Big Kid

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    My goal has always been raising kids who can take care of themselves (and, eventually, me). Kids don’t start learning to be independent when they’re teenagers; they start long before they actually have to get along on their own.

    There are simple things that you can do to help your kids be more independent. And hey, anything your kids can do for themselves, that’s one less thing you have to do!

    Make them ask for things themselves. It can be so tempting in a restaurant or store to speak for your child, especially if she’s shy. But making your children ask for things themselves is a great way to build their confidence. If they want more napkins, they can ask for more napkins.

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    My oldest son will be 9 years old next month, and I do not suffer from that common motherly state of disbelief that my precious little newborn could possibly be such a big kid. Sure, I get nostalgic over his baby photos and all, but the reality is that it feels pretty much exactly like it's been 9 years. The part I can't wrap my head around is my own age: if I add 9 to my age when I gave birth to him, it would seem that I am officially 40 and change now. What?

    There's no point in wasting too much energy fighting the aging process, since the alternative is, well, DEATH, but that doesn't mean I don't have a few complaints. For instance, here's my list of the most annoying things about being a 40+ mom.

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    Every once in a blue moon, my husband volunteers to watch our 4-year-old daughter so I can go meet friends and otherwise have a life. While I'm always grateful when he grants me these few hours of freedom, some small part of me wonders: What do those two do when I'm not there?

    While I can't imagine my husband would ever tell me the truth, I decided to poll a bunch of other dads on what they do with their kids when mom's not around, just to get an idea. Their answers are equally hilarious and horrific -- they'll make you wonder whether you should ever leave him alone with your kids ever again.

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    When I was a little girl, I loved going for walks with my father. I remember feeling so secure as he took my teeny, tiny hand in his big calloused palm, looking both ways as we zipped across the streets. I remember his interesting perspectives and made-up stories about the people and animals we passed along the way. I remember feeling so happy, special, and loved.

    And I’ll always remember the lesson I learned when I picked up a penny.

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    Every morning when I leave my house to head off to work, I stare wistfully at the backyard out my kitchen door. The lilies are coming out now, and the pink flowers and lush green lawn look picture perfect (well, until August, when everything gets this brown-ish tint). I'd love nothing more than to set out a lounge chair and read in the cool morning air, but ... work. 

    At night, when I come home, my daughter regales me with stories about what she did at camp. She made a bowl in glass fusing! She learned how to use a pinhole camera! She won the fencing match! It's awesome to hear her so excited. But, truth, I get a slight bit wistful, too. I loved going to camp. If there were an adult day camp in my area, I'd take a week off work and go. 

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    It's evening, the lights are low, and you're feeling frisky. You look across the table to your husband and notice he's looking especially hot tonight. He didn't have time to shave this morning, and he's wearing that shirt you bought him for Father's Day, the one that actually fits him. Is he feeling the same way you are? Your eyes meet and you're just about to suggest something naughty when -- OH YEAH, THE KIDS! 

    No matter what your kids' ages, they definitely do not want to hear about what you have in mind. That's why countless couples have come up with their own secret code words for talking about sex in front of the kids.

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    A 32-year-old mom named Victoria M. Torres was arrested in Springfield, Massachusetts earlier this week after assaulting a 22-year-old student. The reason? The girl was snapping pics near a water park for a "photography class project," and Torres confronted her, "demanding in a threatening manner" that she delete any pictures containing images of her children, according to law enforcement. Apparently, the photographer was beaten by Torres, who also tried to take the woman's camera and equipment. Yow.

    While any mom would be unnerved by the idea that a stranger had taken photos of her children, it definitely seems as though this mom took her concern way too far.

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    Of all the bugs that accost us during summer, ticks strike fear in the heart of most moms. Every black dot on our kid's skin is cause for alarm. Every dot that turns out to be a freckle, a sigh of relief. Not only do these tiny bugs bury their heads under our skin, they carry a plethora of tick-borne illnesses including the very serious Lyme disease, which can drag on for years with symptoms ranging from joint pain to fatigue to neurological disorders, learning disabilities, even death.

    Here's what to do if you find a tick embedded in your child's skin.

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    Kids who wander into a patch of poison ivy can pay dearly for this mistake ... only if you're a parent keen to ease your child's suffering, never fear -- there's plenty you can do. Follow these guidelines to get the details on how to treat poison ivy on kids, from how to I.D. the rash to ways to alleviate the itch.

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    Not everyone's path to true love is smooth and drama-free. Actually, some would argue that all great love stories have their twists and turns, but occasionally two people find each other in a very unconventional way -- like when they're both married to other people. Whoops.

    That's what famously happened to LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian. The now-married couple met in 2008 -- when she was married to dancer Dean Sheremet, and he was married to model Brandi Glanville. They began a much-publicized affair, and to complicate matters even further, Eddie and Brandi had two young sons together. Recently, LeAnn (who constantly dotes on her stepsons, much to Brandi's chagrin) and Eddie opened up to Mario Lopez about their decision to share the dirty details of their affair to 11-year-old Mason and 7-year-old Josh.

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