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I Brake for Moms
April 20  |  By Jenny Bardsley
Today I’d like to inscribe a name on your heart so that it can live forever: Hana Williams.

Hana was the teenage girl from the Sedro-Woolley area who in 2011 died facedown in mud, of malnutrition, hypothermia and stomach ailments.

Hana spent her last days on Earth beaten, deprived of food, and forced to urinate and shower outside.

Her parents, Larry and Carri Williams, were found guilty in Hana’s death. They also owned a book called...

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April 16  |  By Jenny Bardsley
How to make hot wax rocks Are you interested in a fun project for a rainy day? Try turning rocks and old crayons into masterpieces.

Heat rocks in the oven at 325 degrees for 15 minutes (smooth rocks work best). The rocks will be hot to the touch, but not dangerously so. Use hot pads just in case, to protect your kitchen table.

Then color with old crayons. The wax will melt on contact, producing a beautiful paint-like effect.

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April 13  |  By Jenny Bardsley
A couple of months ago, a miracle happened. Our pet betta, Princess Rip-Jaws, lay at the bottom of her fish bowl, upside down and seemingly dead. Both of my kids were crying their eyes out. Funeral plans were discussed. There seemed to be only two ways this situation could go: down the toilet or buried in the back yard.

For 10 minutes, Princess Rip-Jaws was out cold. She lay at the bottom of her bowl while my son and daughter learned about death. There were a lot of tears...

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April 6  |  By Jenny Bardsley
My hands are calcifying into plastic claws around overpriced coffee. My face is turning yellow. But I still feel awesome — awesome opossum, like I’m dipped in chocolate frostin’. I’m part of a team and we’re living our dream.

OK, I may have watched "The Lego Movie" one too many times and listened to the title song on repeat for 48 hours straight, but it doesn’t matter. The awesomeness has rubbed off.

Will Ferrell...

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April 2  |  By Jenny Bardsley
Sizing up sugars with science My son's third grade class recently had a Science Fair. It looked like so much fun I decided moms should get to do a science experiment, too. So I headed to Fred Myer and bought two brand new hummingbird feeders. I also purchased Pure Cane C&H sugar, as well as the store brand.

It didn't explicitly say so on the package, but I assumed the uber-cheap store brand was GMO sugar from beets.

I mixed up the...

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March 30  |  By Jennifer Bardsley Herald Columnist
The next time you’re at an organizational meeting for (fill in the blank) PTA, Little League, Boy Scouts, soccer, Vacation Bible School, swim team, etc., I have a suggestion. Pass out name tags and ask your attendees to write down all of their other volunteer commitments, right next to their names. I bet it will be enlightening.

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March 23  |  By Jenny Bardsley
If you are a telemarketer, you have my sincere sympathy.

It must be a big challenge cold-calling people, especially when they are enjoying dinner.

I believe that any legal job that brings home a paycheck has merit. But it doesn’t mean I like the perpetual interruptions.

What happened to the "do not call" list? Has that expired? I signed up a long time ago but still get at least five random calls a day.

When somebody...

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March 19  |  By Jenny Bardsley
Time to pony up, parents I’m Generation X, which means I’m old. I guess that’s why I never heard of Bronies until the documentary "Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony" popped up on my Netflix screen.

For the uninitiated, Bronies are tween, teen and adult males who LOVE the television series "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic" created by Lauren Faust, (NOT the previous shows from the 1980s.)


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March 16  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
My daughter’s red piggy bank is constipated with quarters and mocking me. Here’s why.

Last year when she turned 4, we celebrated by inviting a small group of preschoolers to Glazed and Amazed, the popular paint-your-own pottery studio in Edmonds.

In addition to painting piggy banks, we also played the traditional party game "Telephone" where I had to explain to the children what a dial tone, operator and phone line were.


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March 9  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
Have you ever read one of those books about marriage that advises you and your spouse to go on a date every week?

That always sounds good in theory — until you're faced with the prospect of paying for a babysitter. Go grab that extra $50 laying around and then scrounge up more money for a restaurant. Oh, wait…

Maybe instead of date night you could have fake-date night. You and your spouse can sit on the couch and watch TV. All you have to do is...

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March 5  |  By Jenny Bardsley
Field tripping to the capitol Last Friday I joined families from Edmonds School District for a special day in Olympia, where we toured the capitol and met with legislators. Our number one goal was to ask our senators and representatives to fully fund basic education.

I had never visited the capitol before and was truly blown away by its architectural beauty. The tour began in a reception room that was wall-to-wall marble. Later on we visited the House, the Senate and the governor's conference room.

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March 2  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
Last winter I learned to ski at the Summit at Snoqualmie. This year, my husband took me further up the road to Meany Lodge, near Stampede Pass.

Meany Ski Hut was built in 1928 by the Everett and Tacoma Mountaineers, with generous funding from Edmond S. Meany.

Meany was a history and forestry professor at the University of Washington and president of the Mountaineers for 27 years. A Renaissance man in his own time, Meany was the former editor and publisher of...

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February 24  |  
Afterschooling saves money, increases quality time with child For those of you wondering about my family's kindergarten dilemma, here's what we decided to do.

Next year my daughter will attend free, half-day kindergarten, but I will work with her extensively in the afternoon (the technical term for this is Afterschooling). This will not only save $3,600, but also provide my daughter...

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February 23  |  By Jenny Bardsley
It’s not even spring yet, but it’s already time for Little League registration. This year, I’ve decided to be the mom with a plan instead of the girl without a clue.

Last year was my first experience with Little League, and I had a perpetual deer-in-the-headlights look. My own sports background consists of two years picking daisies and doing cartwheels while "playing" soccer. So I had no idea that signing my second-grader up for baseball was...

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February 16  |  By Jenny Bardsley
By the time this column is printed, my husband and I will have made a big decision.

Should we choose half-day or full-day kindergarten for our daughter next year? The kindergarten roundup has begun, and I’m still deliberating.

I used to teach kindergarten, so you’d think this decision would be easy for me. I should have some special insight that allows me to see the ideal answer. But I don’t.

I taught kindergarten in California,...

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February 12  |  By Jenny Bardsley Herald Writer
My new eco-friendly slow cooker Last week my Crock-Pot almost caught my hair on fire. I woke up early in the morning, chopped up a nice beef stew and plugged it in to cook. I didn't notice that the cord was frayed until sparks shot out past my hair, the wall sizzled and the fuse blew.

I stood there a few moments panicking, frantically feeling my hair and checking the counter to make sure nothing was on fire. (Oh, and there might have been some loud shrieking.)

I was very rattled. I use my...

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February 9  |  By Jenny Bardsley
Every once in a while, a kids outfit from Costco goes viral. You see it everywhere you go. Grandmas buy duplicates by accident because the garment is so darn cute and such a good deal.

Two years ago, it was the T-shirt tutu dress. You’d probably recognize it if you saw it because you probably looked at it 100 times. It was business on the top and ballerina fabulous on the bottom. I only wish I looked that good in sparkles.

Right now, the trend is pink...

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February 5  |  By Jenny Bardsley Herald Writer
Vote for schools: Kids are counting on us Have you mailed your ballot yet? With all of the Seahawks excitement, it can be easy to forget to vote. Ballots are due February 11. Drive from Snohomish to Gold Bar, and you'll see signs and posters up, encouraging everyone to vote for schools.

I've also been greatly encouraged by all of the people writing letters to the Herald in support of the levies and bonds. I love seeing the editorial page filled with so many citizens who care about education.

...

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February 2  |  By Jenny Bardsley
There have been some major events in the Bardsley house. After months of work, my 4-year-old finished reading three full sets of "Bob Books," the phonics series they sell at Costco.

We went out to lunch at the American Girl Bistro to celebrate. Afterward, we headed to swimming lessons at the Mountlake Terrace pool where finally (oh, finally!) she graduated from Tadpole to Seahorse.

As I sat on the bleachers watching my daughter dunk her head and speed...

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January 26  |  By Jenny Bardsley
Every time I open the freezer, a rack of ribs taunts me.

Normally, I'm your typical omnivore: Blazing Onion Burgers, Silvana Meats, a nice plank of salmon from Arnies Restaurant — yum, yum!

Right now, however, I'm finishing a 21-day vegan challenge called the Daniel Fast. Dinner for me is beans a la Bourguignon and salad.

I first heard about the Daniel Fast in 2013 when Zondervan Publishing sent me a free copy of "The Daniel Cure, the Daniel...

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January 22  |  By Jenny Bardsley
Murder and mystery in historic Seattle This past October I attended the Write on the Sound conference in Edmonds. While there, I had the pleasure of meeting Bernadette Pajer, author of the Professor Bradshaw series, published by Poisoned Pen Press.

I'm not normally a mystery buff, but Pajer's first book, "A Spark of Death," has really captured my attention. It takes place in Seattle at the...

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January 19  |  By Jenny Bardsley
When I was a kid, my favorite store in the world was Toys "R" Us. Then I grew up.

For a parent, the Toys "R" Us experience begins before you get there.

First, you make your kids write thank-you notes to the very generous relatives who graced them with gift cards. You spend five days holding stationery in front of your children until they eventually grab a pen and admit defeat.

Then, and only then, do you drive to the...

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January 15  |  By Jenny Bardsley
Bookboard gets kids addicted to reading For the past couple of weeks my 4-year-old has been experiencing Bookboard, an eBooks service that is like Netflix for books. (I received a free subscription, by the way, in exchange for my honest opinion and review.)

The way Bookboard works is that your child gets an instant, small library of books to read. After reading two or three books, new books get "unlocked" which adds to the collection and provides...

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January 12  |  By Jenny Bardsley
A fantasy, some beds and cold, hard cash will get you into a lot of trouble — especially when you’re contemplating a family trip.

Do you imagine all of you blissfully sleeping in your hotel room and then waking up to a rosy new day?

Dream on!

Unless you are co-sleeping champs, it’s ridiculously difficult to have your whole family sleep in one room. Yet somehow, people in the olden days did this all the time and called it existence.

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January 8  |  By Jenny Bardsley
Give kids an early start on the SATs Have you seen all of the calendar kiosks at the mall? Keep you eye out for the Merriam-Webster's 365 New Words-a-Year 2014 Page-A-Day Calendar. It's a great way to give your children an early start on the SATs.

I use my calendar to sneak new words into ordinary conversation. Here's an example using the beginning words from 2014:

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January 5  |  By Jenny Bardsley
When I was in college, a friend said, "I can't wait until I get married so that it doesn't matter what I look like anymore and I can just let myself go."

I remember thinking at the time that this was a really bad strategy for a happy marriage. Certainly I would never do that to my mysterious future husband. Twenty-year-old me wore short skirts and high-heeled boots. I even (gasp) wore perfume.

Flash forward to the present. My main wardrobe consists of $10...

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December 29  |  By Jenny Bardsley
I have an unexplained fear of orcas. My best guess is my phobia developed in childhood when I saw a clip from the 1977 movie "Orca" on TV.

Now as an adult, I wake up a couple of times a month with scary-orca nightmares. I haven't stepped foot in Cabela's because of the giant whale hanging from the ceiling. Yikes!

But earlier this month I decided to face my fear of orcas because of two teenagers, Keely Clark and Angelica Enkhee. Together with Keely's mom, Dawn,...

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December 22  |  By Jenny Bardsley
These days, it's easier than ever to take a picture, but that doesn't mean we've gotten rid of the negatives.

There comes a point in every holiday when you stare at your kids and think, "I don't care if you're having a good time or not. Just stand there, fake a smile, and let me take the darn picture so it looks like you're having fun."

Say cheese, children, and hold the whine.

Maybe you're sitting at the dining room table. There's the feast in front...

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December 15  |  By Jenny Bardsley
My third-grader explained to me what it takes to read, summarize and write about a book. "First you read it," he said. "Then you regurgitate it, and then you regurgitate it again. So basically, what you end up doing is barfing up barf."

"Good," I told my son. "I'm glad you're learning how to barf up barf now, because that's a needed skill for life."

Learn it. Think about it. Do it. Then do it again in a whole new way.

Processing ideas and applying...

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December 11  |  By Jenny Bardsley
Is an Olympic Ballet Theatre performance of "The Nutcracker" on your calendar this December? If so, you can make your children's experience even more meaningful with a little advanced planning. Go to the library and check out "Tchaikovsky Discovers America" by Classical Kids.

"Tchaikovsky Discovers America" tells the fictional story of real-life composer Pyotr Ilyich...

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