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Adult Child-Parent

Fears Of A Clown
by Bob Schwartz

There are certain words spoken by a child that can send a shiver of panic through every parental nerve ending. I've discovered that the words causing the greatest consternation were not "Don't worry, the tattoos can always be removed with a laser" or "Can you believe putting in six eyebrow rings barely hurt?"

Rather, the words which sent me quickly into a panic attack were, "My Gymbo's gone!"

Most children, sometime in their early bedtime careers, take a liking to sleeping with a stuffed animal, cuddly clown, small blanket or even something out of the ordinary like one of my children's predilection for nightly embracing a deck of Rugrats Uno cards. Don't ask.

Our son fell into the clown category, and while putting him to bed one night during a family vacation in Canada, we discovered the terrifying experience of finding that his Gymbo the clown was gone. Vanished. Without even a trace of stuffing left behind or a crayon scribbled note.

After ransacking the room and coming up Gymboless, it was clear that he was most likely the victim of an involuntary dollnapping. We concluded he must have been inadvertently scooped up with the sheets that day by the hotel staff. Poor little Gymbo was lying innocently on the bed one minute and then, suddenly, his world was torn asunder with the disengagement of a fitted sheet.

Apparently, he was abruptly wrapped up in the bed linen and tossed down that dark and seemingly never-ending chute to the basement laundry facility. He went from his sheltered suburban upbringing, to being quickly exposed to the giant underbelly of a hotel building. He was naively left to wonder what he'd done to be cast aside and jettisoned into the dungeon of the sheet and pillow case world he was then forced to call home.

The immediate focus was damage control by one parent and Gymbo retrieval by the other. As our son broke out into hysterics, he made it painfully clear that no Gymbo for him meant no sleep. For everyone. And after a long day of nonstop vacationing movement, no sleep was simply an untenable concept for me.

My wife quickly got connected to the hotel laundry room and explained the dire circumstances. She was advised that they'd not seen him yet, but amazingly, they requested she provide them a description of the victim.

This caused us to immediately wonder just how many stuffed dolls they had lying in that basement. Was there some international black market for stuffed cuddly things going on down there? I grabbed the phone and interjected that we'd be able to pick him out of a lineup, so please just let us know how many cotton clowns they'd seen recently. Or perhaps they'd like us to come down and do a composite watercolor painting for them.

I handed the phone back to my wife who patiently provided the laundry staff the unmistakable physical characteristics of a stuffed blue and yellow clown #151; a missing button on his body-hugging suspenders, frizzy red hair, a frayed right leg, about twelve inches long, a bow tie, and with an unwavering cat that ate the canary smile on his face. I felt very confident they wouldn't confuse him with a mattress pad.

As we anxiously paced back and forth, the phone finally rang. In a thick French Canadian accent, the unemotional voice said, "Vee have located your clown."

The words, spoken so solemnly yet somewhat muffled, forced me to become fearful they would next demand a ransom? Or, worse yet, advise us that after a violent fifty-minute foray in the tumble dryer his arm was hanging by a thread?

My wife and I were so thankful that Gymbo was soon delivered to our door in one piece and wearing that same cockeyed grin, but to me, he had a little shell-shocked look. I could only think of the horrors he must have seen down below, tossed in amongst the giant spinning washer along with stained tablecloths and thrown about in the whirling dryers with a bath towel pressed against his face.

We could only hope that the familiar rhythmic breathing of his sleeping owner in the footed pajamas would soon erase the memories of his emotionally charged excursion into the outside world.

We did learn to avoid any unchaperoned Gymbo excursions in the future by tying one end of a shoelace around his waist and the other end around the bedpost each morning. I know that doesn't necessarily look all that loving, but hey, he never stops smiling. And it does eliminate one potential for bedtime parental panic.

Once was enough #151; for all of us.

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Kid-Friendly Treat:Jewels in Snow
By Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers

Many believe that the gemstone garnet got its name from thepomegranate. The tiny arils of this fruit resemble the garnet'sdeep-red color and shape. This recipe mixes the deep-red arils intocottage cheese creating the look of garnets buried in a blanket ofsnow. Try this simple dish for breakfast. The jewel and snow fillingcan also be spread onto graham crackers or celery sticks for a crunchyafter school snack or meal time side dish.


frac12; cup small curd cottage cheese
2 tsp honey
2 Tbsp pomegranate arils
2 tsp ground pecans (optional)
2 slices whole grain toast

Directions: Combine the cottage cheese, honey and pomegranatearils in a small bowl. Spread the mixture over the toast. Slice thetoast into 4 triangles and sprinkle with ground pecans. Serve withapple or peach slices.

Note: Pomegranate arils are a choking hazard for children under 3 yearsold, so this recipe is best suited to children over this age.

Makes 2 servings.

About the authors: Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers aresisters, the mothers of five children and founders of Fresh Baby ( They are the creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit andGood Clean Fun Placemats, available at many fine specialty stores andnational chains including Target and Whole Foods Markets. Permissiongranted for use on

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Purchasing andPreparing Lamb:
The Basics You Need To Know
Provided by theAmerican Lamb Board

The family is coming over for a festive spring dinner but you don'twant to serve yet another casserole#133;How about Lamb? It seems soelegant, but it really is easy, especially if you are armed with thebasics.

What To Look For When Purchasing Lamb:

Lamb is widely available in grocery stores and gourmet food retailersacross the country. When shopping, look for American Lamb as ittypically yields more meat on the bone than imported lamb. Also, mostAmerican lamb is fed mixed grains and grasses giving the meat a milderflavor than its European counterparts. When shopping for a cut, lookfor meat that has a soft pink to red coloring with white marbling.

How to Store/Freeze Lamb:

Fresh lamb should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer immediatelyafter purchasing. Refrigerate fresh lamb at 40 degrees Fahrenheit orbelow. Ground lamb or stew meat should be used within 2 days. Lambchops and roasts should be used within 3 to 5 days. If you plan tofreeze lamb for long periods of time, be sure to wrap the originalpackaging with airtight freezer wrap or place in an airtight freezerbag to prevent freezer burn. To maintain optimum quality, frozen lambshould be used within 3 to 4 months.

How to Thaw Frozen Lamb:
  • In the refrigerator - oncefrozen lamb has thawed in the refrigerator, lamb roasts and chopsshould be used within 3 to 5 days and ground lamb or stew meat shouldbe used within 1 to 2 days.
  • In cold water - leave frozenlamb in its packaging, making sure it is air tight. If not, transfer itto a leak-proof bag. Keep the lamb submerged in cold water, changingthe water every 30 minutes to continue thawing. Cook lamb immediatelyafter thawing. It should not be re-frozen unless cooked first.
  • In the microwave - As withthe cold water method, when frozen lamb is thawed in the microwave, itmust be cooked immediately. It should not be re-frozen unless cookedfirst.
  • For those that don't have alot of experience cooking with lamb, determining when it is done is thebiggest challenge. An overcooked rack of lamb is an expensive mistakeand carving into an undercooked roast can be an embarrassment at adinner party. Don't rely on guesswork - a good meat thermometer willprovide reliable results. DO NOT cut into a roast or chop to checkdoneness. Use an instant read thermometer to give you a quick, accuratereading.
  • Lamb, like any cut of meat,always benefits from rest before serving - the rest allows the meat'sjuices to settle. Give thin cuts like chops five minutes before servingand allow 20 minutes before carving roasts. Keep in mind, as the meatrests, its internal temperature typically rises 5 to 10 degrees. Removelamb from cooking heat when the thermometer reads 5 to 10 degrees lessthan your desired temperature.
  • To ensure lamb remains safethroughout cooking, the USDA makes recommendations for safe cookingtemperatures.
For recipes and approximatecooking times for use in meal planning, visit Permission granted for use on

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Five Ways to FeelEmpowered During Challenging Times
By Anne Mattos-Leedom

Times are tough. Everyone isstruggling one way or another. Perhaps you are being beaten down by theeconomy. You may be watching everything you have built over the yearsslip away. Or you could be one of the millions today who live inconstant fear as you hang on by just a small thread every day.

There is a trickle affect this challenging economy brings to our lives.Relationships with our partners become more stressed as money becomestight and depression and stress fill the air. We can't provide the besteducation and other opportunities for our children and we may be facinga retirement in which we will still be working long after we had hopedto slow down.

All of these fears and stresses add up to an ongoing dread that peopleare facing every day, and in many cases it brings a loss of hope aboutthe future that many have never faced before. Coping with thisemotional trauma is the most important priority we all face. When weare depressed and frightened it is hard to be effective in any part ofour lives. Here are five strategies to help you cope and find strengthduring these challenging times.
  1. Surround yourself with positive people.This is getting harder and harder to do, granted, However, there arepeople who, in spite of their circumstances, forge ahead and find waysto approach each day with optimism and excitement. You may have fewerfriends if you follow this strategy, but the ones you have will liftyou up and motivate you daily.
  2. Do something you love everyday. Forme, I couldn't cope without my music. Going for a drive each morningand listening to music fills my soul, reminds me what I care about andgives me the motivation I need to pursue my life every day with focusand enthusiasm.
  3. Stay organized. When things getdifficult it is very easy to lose track of everything. Time, paperwork,schedules, appointments and even people all seem to fall into a blackhole, simply adding to our frustration. Don't let chaos become your newbest friend. Stay clear and keep your life, professionally andpersonally organized. Nothing is more draining than spending hourstrying to find something essential that has been misplaced, orreestablish connections that have been damaged due to living our livesin havoc.
  4. Get Up and Move. While exercise isideal and essential at all times, during emotional stress it is moreimportant than ever to move our bodies. Research is clear that movingyour body releases chemicals that make it easier to cope with stress.Work with your circumstances, not against them. A simple walk or a gameof Wii can work wonders to keep your mood up.
  5. Give Yourself a Break. It really isok that things are not going as you had planned in life. Your financesand circumstances may have changed drastically, but if you can find theopportunities in the darkness, you may discover a new life you willlove even more. Relationships do change, but they can change for thebetter. Most challenges bring wonderful new choices. If you allowyourself to let go of what has happened and give yourself permission tolook for a new and different life, you may find that everything IShappening for a reason. You will see that it all really will be ok inthe long run.
We can't control the journey butwe can always control how we experience the journey.

Anne Mattos-Leedom is theFounder of, a premier online placement agency forexperts and authors. She is also the publisher of,a national parenting website for raising kids who care. She lives inNorthern California.Permissiongranted foruse

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The "Golden Years" Needa Brass Ring:
Why a Sense of Purpose is Crucial for Retirement

By Mary Lloyd
Author of SuperchargedRetirement: Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote,and Do What You Love

When you're working full-time,"retirement" is the brass ring you strive for. But whatkeeps you going once you retire?

Doing nothing. The popularfantasy is that you won't wantto keep going--that doing whatever you want all day every day will beperfect. But satisfaction with doing nothing typically lastsabout a year. And then?

For many retirees, it's the start of a long, frustrating time oflife. You've reached the Promised Land, and you don't like theprogram. Now what?

Doing anything. Manyresort to filling up their calendars--joining clubs and volunteeringfor everything that comes along. Maybe it beats meeting the guysat McDonald's for coffee every day, but you still feel empty. Pretty soon you quit because it's not working. Then you volunteersomewhere else, and the cycle repeats. And the emptinesscontinues.

Doing something authentic. Boththe "extended vacation" model of retirement and the "jam the calendar"model lack a sense of purpose. Knowing what's important and whatyou want to do about it is a huge piece of creating a satisfyingretired life.

Why PURPOSE? To reallythrive, you need to act on more than your own needs. You believe in what you need to dorather than just "having to get it done." Purpose keeps youexcited about life and that has a lot of pluses.
  • Purpose helps you physically. In one study, nuns who reached advanced age never exhibited symptoms ofAlzheimer's even though the physiological characteristics were evidentwhen their brains were studied after they died. The nuns were involvedin something more important than themselves even at age 100. Theyhad a reason to continue to function effectively. So they did.

  • Purpose helps you emotionally. Doing work you believe in confirms you're competent andrelevant--reinforcement that's hard to find in a leisure-centeredretirement.

  • Purpose helps you mentally. Doing purpose-defined work keeps your mind functioning moreeffectively. You learn new concepts and try new things to makethings happen. You seek and implement solutions. Acting onwhat's important to you keeps your world expanding and your learningcurve going up.

  • Purpose helps you socially. Being involved in something bigger than walking the dog connects you toa larger social sphere. You build relationships with people with thesame interest. You make contacts to learn more. That kindof involvement means you're less likely to be depressed. You'realso less likely to dwell on everyday aches and pains.
A sense of purpose if the very first thing anyone planningretirement needs to come up with--even before the money part. (Itmakes your financial planning easier because what you want to dodetermines how much money you'll need.) Purpose helps youthrive. It saves you money by helping your stay healthy. It's crucial.

Only you can find your purpose in retirement. Starting before you retire can make that alot easier.

Mary Lloyd is a consultant and speaker and author of SuperchargedRetirement: Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote, and Do What YouLove. Her focus is on using on the potential of those over50. For more, please visit her website She can be reached at
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IconDad, do you ever get scared? I remember asking my father that question one evening before bedtime.  My world was scary even without the constant news of inflation and the threat of nuclear war with the now-dead Soviet Union.  I had an upcoming test for which I hadn't studied and there was a Neanderthal who made my life hell in the school hallway.  More >>

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IconSummer is fast approaching and school is coming to an end. Soon it will be time to load the family in the car and head down the road on a vacation you hope will be more than fun for all. More >>

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IconYears ago, I called you, saying I was debating moving about 5 hours drive away from my elderly mother... You reminded me that I had an obligation to continue visiting my mother and helping her out with various chores, regardless of my individual preferences. More >>

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IconBoundaries separating you from family occur automatically when you're independent, formed either by the physical distance or the amount of contact you orchestrate. When you live together again with family, boundaries can blur rapidly. More >>

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IconCan a Mother Be Her Daughter's Best Friend? By Linda Perlman Gordon and Susan Morris Shaffer There is an old Chinese proverb that states "One Generation plants the trees; another gets the shade," and this is how it should be with mothers and daughters. The intimate nature of the relationship between a mother and daughter is sometimes confusing. If close, the relationship can simulate friendship through the familiar characteristics of empathy, listening, loyalty, and caring.  However, the mother/daughter relationship has unique characteristics that distinguish it from a best friendship. These characteristics include a mother's role as primary emotional caretaker, a lack of reciprocity, and a hierarchy of responsibility. This hierarchy, combined with unconditional love, precludes mothers and daughters from being best friends.  Because the essential ingredient for friendship is equality and there is always an imbalance when one person in the twosome is the parent of the other, mothers and daughters naturally can't be best friends. Marina, 27 years old says, "I love spending time with my mom, but I wouldn't consider her my best friend. She's MY MOM.  Best friends don't pay for the dress you covet in a trendy clothing store that you wouldn't pay for yourself. Best friends don't pay for your wedding. Best friends don't remind you how they carried you in their body and gave you life, and sometime gas!  Best friends don't tell you how wise they are and trump your opinion because they have been alive at least 20 years longer than you. I love my mom, and I want her to remain a mom." This doesn't mean that the mother/daughter relationship can't be very close and satisfying. While some adult relationships are still troubled, many find them to be extremely rewarding. So many moms spoke to us about how happy they are to be finished with the "eye rolling" and look from their adolescent daughters, a look that says, "You must come from a different evolutionary chain than me."  Daughters also adopted the famous Mark Twain quote about aging, with some slight alterations, and their feelings about their mothers. Mark Twain said, "When I was a boy (girl) of 14, my father (mother) was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man (woman) around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man (woman) had learned in seven years."  This generation of mothers and adult daughters has a lot in common which increases the likelihood of shared companionship. Mothers and daughters have always shared the common experience of being homemakers, responsible for maintaining and passing on family values, traditions, and rituals. Today contemporary mothers and daughters also share the experience of the workforce, technology and lack of a generation gap, which may bring them even closer together. Best friends may or may not continue to be best friends, but for better or worse, the mother and daughter relationship is permanent, even if for some unfortunate reason they aren't' speaking. The mother and child relationship is, therefore, more intimate and more intense than any other. As long as that hierarchy exists, it's not an equal relationship.  Daughters should not feel responsible for their mother's emotional well-being. Not that they don't care deeply about their mothers, it's just that they shouldn't be burdened with their mother's well being. As one mother said to her daughter, "I would gladly dive under a bus for you and there is no way that I'm diving under a bus for my friends." Her daughter responded, "And I'd gladly let you dive under the bus to save me!" The mother/daughter relationship is so much more comprehensive than a best friendship. It's a relationship that is not replaceable by any other. This unique bond doesn't mean that when daughters mature they can't assume more responsibilities and give back to their mothers, but it's never equal and it's not supposed to be. Mothers never stop being mothers, which includes frequently wanting to protect their daughters and often feeling responsible for their happiness. Mother always "trumps" friend.  Linda Perlman Gordon  and  Susan Morris Shaffer  are the authors of  Too Close for Comfort: Questioning the Intimacy of Today's New Mother-Daughter Relationship . While exploring the complexity of the mother-daughter relationship, the book demonstrates that mothers and their adult daughters have formed a greater friendship than past generations. .For helpful tips and practical advice on staying connected to your children visit .  Permission granted for use on More >>

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