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Icon...I teach 8th grade English. It is sad how many of my students come from broken homes. I can see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices they know they aren't first in their parent's eyes. More >>

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IconIts been exactly 8 months and 11 days since I quit my job to be at home with my son! I've emailed you twice in the past. First about "Kissing My Baby's Face Off" and second when I informed you I FINALLY quit that stressful job and yanked my then 9 month old son out of daycare to stay home with him! More >>

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IconI want to take issue from an attitude I hear from friends and some of the callers on your show. Why do people feel that parenting is a thankless job? I get an awful lot of thanks and praise from my children. My teenage daughter tells me multiple times a week that she is grateful for the big and small things I do for her and that she is so glad that her dad and I are HER parents. More >>

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In Praise Of B.S. -It's Not All Bad For 'Ya
By Cliff Ennico

As a longtime fan of comedianGeorge Carlin, I was recently delighted to find in my local video storea DVD of an HBO special performance Carlin gave in Los Angeles only afew months before his death in June 2008.
The special, entitled "It's Bad for 'Ya", was the usual blend ofCarlin's spot-on social and political satire.

My only problem with his routine came in the title skit - a long rantagainst certain ritual and other symbolic behaviors we perform ineveryday life (for example, placing your hand on a Bible or othersacred text when swearing an oath). After describing each ritualand showing how meaningless it is, Carlin added the tag line "it'sB.S., and it's bad for 'ya." At one memorable point in hismonologue, Carlin wonders out loud "how many millions of dead soldiersin military cemeteries around the Globe marched off to war because theyfelt they were fighting for something that was nothing more than B.S.?"

A veteran of the social and political upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s,Carlin believed, as did many of his generation (listen closely to thelyrics of John Lennon's song "Imagine"), that a world without B.S. is aworld of perfect beauty, peace and freedom, in which there is nothingto kill or die for, and we can finally achieve "a brotherhood of man".

With all respect for an artist who can no longer defend himself, and(full disclosure) as a member of that generation myself, I would saythat I agree with Carlin . . . but only halfway.

It's hard to argue that most ritual behavior is B.S., in the sense thatit has no extrinsic meaning. Quite a few social rituals that usedto have real meaning no longer do - in the 1500s, shaking someone'shand in greeting was a way of saying you had no intention to draw yoursword on that person.

But that is just the point: ritual behavior is not meant to havereal meaning. It is symbolic, a shorthand way of communicatingsomething that cannot be put in words or is too complex for the humanmind to grasp in full. Putting your hand on a sacred text whenswearing an oath is a way for society to signal that "what you areabout to say is extremely important, just as important as the words inthis text you're holding, and we as a society intend to hold youaccountable for every word."

Ritual behavior lies at the heart of every human organization, be it afamily, a company (we commonly speak of "corporate culture"), a tribe,a religion, a political party, or a nation. Participating inritual is a way for people to say "yes, we are all different as humanbeings, but we are willing to sacrifice some of our individuality, ourpersonality, our disagreements and our uniqueness to be members of acertain community that identifies itself by these rituals."

The rituals themselves are B.S., and easily ridiculed. But - andhere is where I part company with Carlin - not all B.S. is bad for'ya.

Would you really want to live in a world without B.S.? A world inwhich each individual is truly unique, different and perfect inhimself, without any shorthand or symbols to show his fellow humanitywith others? Frankly, I think it would be boring as Hell - inmuch the same way that guys with shaved heads and goatees (er, excuseme, "soul patches") look exactly the same.

Whenever you make any sort of general statement about something, it isB.S. because it is too simplistic. Whenever you tell a story toillustrate a moral, it is B.S. because it is fiction. Wheneveryou create a theory or model to explain to someone how something in theworld works, it is B.S. because every rule has exceptions, and theworld is too complicated for any theory to explain perfectly. Whenever you accept something as an article of faith, you use B.S. todeal with questions that cannot be answered by rational or scientificanalysis (for example, what happens to us after we die, why bad thingshappen to good people). According to some 20th century Europeanphilosophers, even language itself is B.S. because words are meresymbols that cannot communicate the "thing in itself" - we love poetrybecause by listening closely to the words we hear, and sometimes feel,an image of what is being spoken about.

In many ways, B.S. is the lubricant that makes learning, communication,understanding and all other aspects of human society possible. B.S. is what gets us emotionally and psychologically through life,gives us our sense of personal identity, and what gives us hope thatmaybe there is something in the Universe that is bigger than we are andof which we are a part.

Cynicism can be a good thing, if taken in moderation. But someonewho spends too much time removing B.S. from his life, and pointing outto others why B.S. isn't real, sooner or later ends up not believing inanything. George Carlin had a successful career, achieving wealthand fame making millions laugh at the B.S. in their lives, but Isometimes wonder if he died happy. He didn't look happy in thatHBO special. Of course, he probably knew he had only a few monthsto live.

People should be free to choose which B.S. they believe in, of course -B.S. should never be forced on anyone. People should also beeducated enough not to confuse B.S. with reality. But give upB.S. altogether? If anything, the more we learn about the cold,hostile, unforgiving world around us, the more B.S. we need to keepfrom going crazy. And yes, some B.S. is worth fighting and dyingfor.

As you engage in your holiday rituals, customs and traditions, whateverthey may be, try not to think too hard about them. Studysomething too closely, and you kill the beauty, the magic and themystery.

Cliff Ennico ( a syndicated columnist, author and former host of the PBS televisionseries "Money Hunt." This column is no substitute for legal, tax orfinancial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualifiedprofessional licensed in your state. To find out more about CliffEnnico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit ourWeb page at COPYRIGHT2009 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM. Permissiongranted foruse

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IconFor some brides a sudden burst of tearful protest from an infant is just a reminder of the familial love surrounding them on their special day. For others and their guests, even soft cooing from a baby is distracting and annoying. Your wedding guests want to hear the vows you and your new partner in life will recite on your wedding day, so what to do? More >>

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Luck Won't Make YourMarriage a Success:
Four Benefits of Pre-Marital Counseling

By Sharon M. Rivkin, M.A., M.F.T.

We seem to prepare foreverything in our life - jobs, exams, etc. Why then don't weprepare for a successful marriage? Maybe it's because of thefairy tales that have brainwashed us into thinking that we'll all livehappily ever after? In reality, it doesn't work that way, as you mayhave noticed by now. 50 percent of marriages end in divorce#133;andonly half of those that endure are truly happy in the long run.

According to Patricia and Gregory Kuhlman of Marriage Success Training,"research shows that there is a window of opportunity during the yearbefore the wedding and the six months or so after when couples get theoptimum benefit from marriage preparation. Later, under stress,negative habits and relationship patterns may become established and bemuch harder to resolve. If you just wing it and count on yourluck and romantic attachment to make your marriage a success, your oddsare only one in four."

How do you beat the odds and give your marriage a better chance ofsurvival? Through pre-marital counseling and education. According to research, pre-marital counseling can reduce the risk ofdivorce by up to 30% and lead to a happier and healthiermarriage. And the healthiest marriages are those where the couplecan negotiate their differences. Why wait until you're marriedand have your first marital fight to see if you can negotiate? Why not prepare ahead of time with tools and skills?

Most couples naively think they don't need preparation. Maybe theyhaven't experienced relationship hardships and don't believe there willever be problems. And if problems do pop up, they believe theywill magically turn out okay. Remember the fantasy? Marriagesdon't work that way. They take a lot of hard work, thought, andskill. Love alone will not guarantee a successful marriage. Instead, discuss and resolve important issues before the big date tohave a better chance for a healthy marriage, such as:
  1. What are your expectationsfor a good marriage?
  2. How compatible are you onday-to-day issues?
  3. What personality-type areeach of you and what are your families of origin like?
  4. What are your communicationskills? Are you an introvert or extrovert?
  5. Do you have tools forconflict management? Can you negotiate? What do you do whenconflict arises?
  6. Do you have similar sexdrives? What type of sex do you prefer?
  7. Do you share long-term goalsand similar values?
Then, get pre-marital counselingto learn the following tools:
  1. Fair fighting. How to taketime outs, call a truce, stop the shaming and blaming, and developingground rules for fighting.
  2. Keep your partner frombecoming your enemy. When arguments build up, you cease giving yourpartner the benefit of the doubt. Therefore, resolve conflictsimmediately so you can continue to love your partner and see them in apositive light.
  3. Stay current. Addressarguments as soon as they come up. Don't sweep issues under therug. They won't go away. Resentment and anger build momentumwhenever an issue isn't dealt with and resolved.
Don't count on luck to beat thedivorce odds#133;and drop the fantasy. By discussing important issues andlearning skills through pre-marital counseling, you'll be forming asolid foundation for a successful marriage.

"What's the big deal? All I said was. . ." Sound familiar? Argument/Affairs Expert and TherapistSharon Rivkin helps couples fix their relationships by understandingwhy they fight. Sharon says, "If you don't get rid of the ghosts thathaunt your arguments, you'll never stop fighting!" Read her new book,Breaking the Argument Cycle: How to Stop Fighting Without Therapy, tolearn the tools of therapy to break the cycle of destructive fighting.Sharon makes regular radio appearances nationwide and has been featuredin O: The Oprah Magazine, Reader'sDigest,, Martha Stewart Living Radio, and For more information,visit foruse

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Facebook Safety: Wakingup with a Social Media Hangover
By John Sileo

Facebook safety has a directcorrelation to your business's bottom line. Facebook, and social mediasites in general, are in an awkward stage between infancy and adulthood- mature in some ways, helpless in others. On the darker side of siteslike Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, scammers and identity thieves aredrooling at the sight of this unchecked data playground. In contrast,most social networkers are myopically intoxicated with all thefriendships they are creating and renewing.

There is no denying that Facebook and other social media sites have avery luring appeal. You can sit in the comfort of your own homeand suddenly have a thriving social life. You can look up oldfriends, make new ones, build business relationships and create aprofile for yourself that highlights only your talents and adventureswhile conveniently leaving out all your flaws and troubles. It iseasy to see why Facebook has acquired over 200 million users worldwidein just over five years. Which is why Facebook safety is still soimmature: Facebook's interface and functionality has grown faster thansecurity can keep up.

Unfortunately, most people dive head first into this world of socialconnectedness without thinking through the ramifications of all thepersonal information that is now traveling at warp speed throughcyberspace. It's like being served a delicious new drink at aparty, one that you can't possibly resist because it is so fun andtempting and EVERYONE is having one. The downside? Nobody isthinking about the information hangover that comes fromover-indulgence: what you put on theInternet STAYS on the internet, forever. And sometimes it showsup on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, in the hands of aprospective employer or your boss's inbox. All of the personalinformation that is being posted on profiles -- names, birthdates,kids' names, photographs, pet's names (and other password reminders),addresses, opinions on your company, your friends and your enemies, allof it serves as a one-stop shop for identity thieves. It's allright there in one neat little package and all a scammer has to do toaccess it is become your 'friend .

Recently my friend, who was an avid Facebook user, gave it up. Hehad acquired 2,000 friends and he just couldn't manage itanymore. Of course, I'm thinking, "Two thousand friends?" How do you come to personally know two thousand people over the courseof 40 years on earth? The answer is easy: he didn't knowthem all. People accept "friend" invitations all the time frompeople they don't actually know. Who doesn't like people seekingout their friendship? But consider this: there is an increasinglikelihood that the "friends" you don't know might also be con artistswho are simply trying to access your information. Every time you allowa stranger into your profile, picture yourself with a morning-afterhangover. Follow the Five Facebook Safety Tips and save yourselfthe trouble.

5 Facebook Safety Tips

1.If they're not your friend, don'tpretend. Don't accept friend requests unless you absolutely knowwho they are and that you would associate with them in person, justlike real friends.

2. Post only what you want made public.Be cautious about the personal information that you post on any socialmedia site, as there is every chance in the world that it willpropagate. It may be fun to think that an old flame can contactyou, but now scammers and thieves are clambering to access thatpersonal information as well.

3. Manage your privacy settings. Sixty percent of social networkers are unaware of their default privacysettings (how Facebook sets them for you). The simple task of settingthem to your standards can reduce your risk of identity theftdramatically. Take a few minutes and lock down your profiles byvisiting the privacy tab of your account settings. Understand what partof your profile is visible to friends and non-friends alike.

4. Keep Google Out. Unless you want allof your personal information indexed by Google and other searchengines, restrict your profile so that it is not visible to thesedata-mining experts.

5. Don't respond to Friends in Distress.If you receive a post requesting money to help a friend out, do thesmart thing and call them in person. Friend in Distress schemes arewhen a thief takes over someone else's account and then makes a pleafor financial help to all of yourfriends (who think that the post is coming from you).

Following these 5 Facebook Safety tips is a great way to prevent aninformation-sharing hangover.

About the author: John Sileobecame America's leading Identity Theft Speaker amp;Expert after he lost his business and more than $300,000 toidentity theft and data breach. His clients include the Department ofDefense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To further bulletproof yourself and yourbusiness, visit John's blog at To book John atyour next event, visit Permissiongranted foruse

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The Key to SuccessfulRelationships:
Put Yourself First
By Winn Claybaugh
Author of Be Nice (Or Else!)

Before you can have successful relationships with others, you mustmaster your relationship with yourself. Here's a radical challenge:Make it a goal to fall back in love with yourself. When I say that to aroomful of people in my seminars, I usually hear lots of nervousgiggles. Even the thought of 'falling in love with me seems extreme,and many people reject the idea. But before you can offer others thegifts of happiness, joy, purpose, and fulfillment, you have to own themyourself.

I once had the honor of knowing a wonderful woman named Noel DeCaprio.A successful spa owner, Noel was heralded as a mentor and leader withinher industry. She'd been featured and interviewed in magazines and ontelevision for her wisdom, and many people looked to her for coaching,business ideas, and her 'you can do it approach.

Noel experienced a 14-year battle with breast cancer, which eventuallytook her life in December 1998. Six months before her passing, Iinterviewed Noel for an audiotape to raise money for breast cancerresearch. In that interview, she said that after her double mastectomyand months of chemotherapy, she looked in the mirror and hated herself.Noel was wise enough to know she had to find a way to fall back in lovewith herself, and she did it by making bathing a ritual. Every day,she'd spend hours in the ritual of bathing. She focused on the bathsalts, candles, oils, creams, and aromas. She spent time visitinglittle boutiques that sold such items, having them gift wrapped eventhough she was buying them for herself. She put so much time intosomething she'd never had time for before#151;something that seemed soselfish and narcissistic#151;that eventually she realized she was back inlove with herself. And when that happened, Noel told her family,friends, and staff, 'Tell everyone I have cancer! I'm out of thecloset, and I want everyone to know so I can help as many people as Ican.

How Noel went on to raise money and awareness for cancer wasunbelievable. But let me ask you: Could she have accomplished so much,and benefited so many people, had she not fallen back in love withherself?

Once you solidify your relationship with yourself, you're ready to moveon to your relationships with others. People often think relationshipsmean that 'one and only person in their life, but every person youcontact is a relationship that requires your commitment. If you drivein traffic, you have a relationship with everyone on the freeway. Ifyou drive down the freeway screaming, 'Get out of my way! it's goingto be very difficult for you to walk into work and say, 'Hi, happy toserve you. If you verbally abuse waiters, waitresses, or bank tellers,it's going to be very difficult for you to have a successful, intimaterelationship with a spouse or partner.

Remember that every relationship offers you the opportunity to grow andlearn. If you assume that everyone is doing their best#151;just as youare#151;and choose to give people a break, you'll find yourself developingthe warm, wonderful, nice relationships you desire.

Winn Claybaugh is the author of Be Nice (Or Else!) and 'one of thebest motivational speakers in the country, according to CNN's LarryKing. A business owner for over 25 years with over 8,000 people in hisorganization, Winn is the co-owner of hair care giant Paul Mitchell'sschool division. Winn has helped thousands of businesses build theirbrands and create successful working cultures. His clients includeSouthwest Airlines, the Irvine Company, Vidal Sassoon, EntertainmentTonight, Mattel, For Rentmagazine, Structure/Limited/Express, and others. Winn is a frequentguest on national radio and a regular contributor to onlinepublications. Visit to sign up for his free monthly Be Nice (Or Else!) newsletter.. Permission granted for use on

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Eating Colorfully
By Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers

It's essential to eat a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables every day and it can be a lot of fun too! Colorful fruits and vegetables provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals your body needs to maintain good health and energy levels. Each color range provides your body with different nutrients, so it is important to eat a rainbow of color! Here are five major colors and example foods:

Blue/Purple: Blueberries, Purple grapes, Plums, Purple cabbage, Eggplant and Purple peppers

Green: Avocados, Green apples, Honeydew, Kiwifruit, Artichokes, Asparagus, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cucumbers, Leeks and Peas

White: Bananas, Brown pears, White peaches, Cauliflower, Garlic, Ginger, Jicama, Mushrooms, Parsnips, Potatoes and White Corn

Yellow/Orange: Apricots, Cantaloupe, Oranges, Papayas, Pineapples, , Butternut squash, Carrots, Yellow summer squash and Sweet potatoes.

Red: Red apples, Cherries, Cranberries, Pomegranates, Strawberries, Red peppers, Radishes, Radicchio, and Tomatoes.

Make it fun while shopping by having the kids pick out different colored fruits and vegetables. At mealtimes, identify the colors and name the foods. Colorful eating is an easy concept to teach small children and it will go a long way to developing their healthy eating habits.

About the authors: Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children and founders of Fresh Baby, creators or products such as homemade baby food kits, baby food cookbooks, baby food and breast milk storage trays, breastfeeding reminders, and child development diaries ( Visit them online at and subscribe to their Fresh Ideas newsletter to get monthly ideas, tips and activities for developing your family's healthy eating habits! Permission granted for use on

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Teaching Tips on Reading Skills for Kids
By Jodie Lynn,

Getting kids to learn how to enjoy reading can be quite stressful and frustrating for a parent. Here are some tips to utilize that seem to work well for those reluctant readers.
  1. Get your child a library card. As soon as he is old enough, let him get his own card. It is very exciting for kids to have their own card and make their own choices in reading material.

  2. Don't frown on his choice of books or reading material. Let your child make the choice on what to read. It might not be the book you would have picked out. In fact, it might even be a comic book, the back of a cereal box or a bubble gum wrapper. As long as your child picks up something and begins to read, it doesn't really matter.

  3. Let your kids see you reading. Laugh aloud and show them what it is that you are laughing about. Open the book to that specific page or picture and point to the words and read them to your child. Say, "Books can really be funny!"

  4. Set aside time for reading together. In the beginning, it might only be three times a week, then every other day and eventually move forward to each day. It almost always works best if you will take turns reading.

  5. Ask questions about what he just read. Don't do this with every page. Children know exactly what you are trying to do. Indeed, it works much better if you make a statement like, "Wait -- I don't understand why Jordan did not like the large red truck -- do you?"

  6. Encourage reading material on things he likes best. If your child loves Fairy Tales, shoot for that topic to begin. Alternatively, let them choose a wide variety of mixed topics, some of which you might was to roll your eyes -- but just stay calm and smile.

  7. Be Flexible: If you have a reading time scheduled and he just does not want to do it, go with the flow. It's important to show your child that reading is fun and is not a chore, test or quiz. You can always catch up later.

  8. Tape the session. Nothing is funnier as taping a reading session. Parents can get much farther with kids if they will let down their guard every once in a while and act silly. Play back the tape and your child will hear themselves reading and then hear your part where you acted silly. Maybe by changing your voice.

  9. Share personal stories. When reading with your child, point out a similar instance in real life. For example, if a character in the book falls down and drops a glass of milk, you could say, "That happened to me when I was seven." Or, "That's just like the time when you fell down after tripping over the dog...remember."

  10. Read everything aloud. If you will read signs, instructions, even the weather forecast off the TV and etc., aloud, your child will hear words and make a connection. He will see and hear how words are powerful, fun and descriptive while building his vocabulary and enjoyment for reading.
Remember, don't punish your child if they are not catching on to the joy of reading as quickly as you would like for them to -- it'll all work out as long as you stay calm.

copy; 2005 Jodie Lynn

Jodie Lynn is an award-winning internationally syndicated family/health columnist and radio personality. Parent to Parent ( is now going into its tenth year and appears in newspapers, magazines, newsletters and throughout the Internet. Lynn has a regular family segment on radio programs, one of which is syndicated to over 20 stations. She has written two books and contributed to two others, one of which was on Oprah and has appeared on NBC in a three month parenting segment. Her latest best-selling parenting/family book is Mommy CEO, revised edition. Preorder Lynn's new book, "Mom CEO: Avoiding the Distressed Housewife Syndrome and Winning at Motherhood," online or from any bookstore. See for more details. Permission granted for use on

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