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I Brake for Moms
April 26  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
Family vacations are best left to the imagination.

Have you ever returned from a family vacation and asked yourself, "What the heck just happened?"

That first night home after putting your children to bed in their own room you cry with gratitude for the comfort of your mattress and the bliss of uninterrupted sleep. Nobody kicks you! Nobody squirrels down in the covers! You wake up refreshed and return gleefully to work on Monday. Your daily routine...

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April 19  |  
School stress is some of the worst stress there is, especially when you are a parent worrying about your child. Academic issues, friend drama, scuffles at recess, college acceptance letters; there are multiple strains of torment, but only one balm — getting “the good teacher.”

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April 12  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
Right now I'm as agitated as Arya without Needle, Catelyn without justice, Margery without a husband, or Daenerys watching Drogon unleashed. The whole world is primed for the season five debut of "Game of Thrones" tonight on HBO, but my husband and I cut cable to save coppers. For us it will be an epic wait for the DVDs.

I understand that George R.R. Martin's universe is not for everyone. "Too much violence," you say. "Too much sex,"...

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April 5  |  By Jenny Bardsley
"Children should be seen and not heard."

That's a saying we are all familiar with, even though most people would agree it doesn't apply anymore. But if we look back in our cultural past, it's hard to pinpoint the exact moment in time when this stopped being accepted as truth.

Our transformed behavioral expectations for children are especially obvious if you look inside Protestant churches. Today is Easter Sunday. Where are the children? Are they...

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March 29  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
I just added it up and realized my family has spent $1,200 on car seats and boosters over the past 10 years. When I spied the total, I felt the sudden impulse to throw myself across my purse.

Are we ridiculous spendthrifts? Actually, we're the family with the 14-year-old sedan in our driveway. The fact is, kid expenses add up fast.

When I was a first time mother, I stalked and researched every last baby purchase. If a pregnant friend...

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March 22  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
Letting down my guard and learning to understand Clash of Clans My 9-year-old has tried to explain Clash of Clans to me at least a dozen times and I've successfully ignored him until now.

Forget the touchy-feely modern parenting stuff, when it comes to video games I don't care. But in a weak moment, I finally paid attention, and when I did I felt guilty. Disinterest is no excuse for ignorance about something your child loves.

After an extensive CofC tutorial that at one point involved me screaming, here's what I've learned.

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March 15  |  By Jenny Bardsley Special to The Herald
The winter bug has bit again. Apparently the Bardsley house is a fun place for germs to chillax until spring. I finally dragged myself to the doctor, positive I had strep throat, only to discover it was some sort of "–itis" requiring antibiotics.

While I waited for the pharmacist next door to fill my order, I roamed our local QFC and made some really bad decisions.

If you had to jot down your top three comfort foods for when you're sick, what...

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March 8  |  By Jenny Bardsley
I'd like to introduce you to another reason to be proud of Washington state.

March 11 is Washington State Gifted Education Day. In Washington, every school district is mandated to offer highly-capable services to identified children because gifted education is part of basic education.

Why is this so important? Picture a bell curve for IQ. An IQ of 100 is at the top of the bell. A typical classroom is tailor-made for kids in the middle. With differentiated...

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March 1  |  By Jenny Bardsley Special to The Herald
Close your eyes and picture your first job interview. What was the worst possible secret that could have been revealed in that moment, ruining your chances for employment? Odds are a photo of you being potty trained, floating around the Internet, wasn't a deal breaker. But today's kids face a different reality. A recruiter could Google their name and discover a picture their mother posted of them as a toddler with a weird rash.

I hear a lot about the need for teenagers to...

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February 22  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
Help your local Girl Scout, even if you order online Have you bought Girl Scout cookies yet? I'm a Daisy troop leader and my girls are super excited. Their uniforms are pressed with badges in place, and they've worked hard to master multiples of four, because with the exception of the gluten-free Toffee-tastic, cookies sell for $4 a box.

This is the first year Girl Scouts have offered online ordering through Digital Cookie and they're taking a lot of flak. A famous blogger named Jenny Lawson, aka "The Bloggess,"...

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February 15  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
Fed up with the squirrel show out my back window There's a 24/7 squirrel orgy going on in my backyard. Every time I look out the window squirrels are copulating on my picnic table. And on the fence. And in the trees. And in the bamboo. It's like a really twisted show on cable.

We're one of the few families on our cul-de-sac who don't own a dog or cat. Our pet fish, Princess Rip-jaws, is pretty fierce, but she's not very good at chasing squirrels away. So all of the squirrels in the neighborhood party at our house. It's...

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February 8  |  By Jenny Bardsley
My husband and I recently celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary, which is a relief because Year 13 was very unlucky — for our wedding presents.

Our pots and pans developed deep grooves, making me wonder if I had inadvertently fed my family nonstick coating. Entertaining was difficult because I accidentally ground up one too many forks in the garbage disposal. Our sheets were threadbare. At least our china was in mint condition — because we hardly ever used...

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February 1  |  By Jenny Bardsley
Some of us aren't football crazy; please don't hold it against us I have a shocking confession to make: I don't like football.

I hesitate to admit that in public, especially on today of all days. But although I am in the extreme minority, I know I am not alone. So for all you people who feel like 12th Man Club rejects, this one's for you.

We football widows, or football orphans, don't understand what the fuss is about. To us, football looks like violence and a lot of commercial breaks.

Fifteen minute quarters go...

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January 25  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
Did you know that when the great American philosopher Henry David Thoreau was living the self-reliant life on Walden Pond his mother, Cynthia Dunbar, did his laundry? I think about her every time I toss a load of my kids' clothes in the dryer. If I don't have a plan, I might fold socks forever.

I'm not ready to entrust my children with detergent yet, but this past year I commissioned my 9-year-old with the task of putting fresh sheets on his bed every week. Teaching him...

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January 18  |  By Jenny Bardsley
Every winter, croup hits my daughter with a force so hard that it knocks out our whole family. If you've dealt with croup, then you immediately understand. It's evil. But if you haven't, let's name my daughter's croup by its creator: Human Parainfluenza Virus (HPIV). Now doesn't that sound nasty?

When my daughter was a baby, croup meant she couldn't breathe. We'd be up all night whisking her into a steamy bathroom or out onto the icy front porch. My husband and I took...

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January 11  |  By Jenny Bardsley
Last week Herald reporter Diana Hefley wrote an article about the former treasurer of the Martha Lake Elementary School PTA allegedly stealing almost $40,000 from the nonprofit's funds. This story caught my attention because I am the treasurer of a school organization. I won't name what specific group, because I try to protect my children's privacy whenever possible, but it's very similar to a PTA.

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January 4  |  By Jennifer Bardsley Special to The Herald
2015 is only four days old and I am already thinking about 2016. That's because I have some happy news to share: "Publishers Marketplace" has announced my two-book deal with Month9Books, the Young Adult speculative fiction imprint of the Georgia McBride Media Group.

My first book comes out in 2016 and is about an 18-year-old girl who has never been on the Internet. Her lack of a virtual footprint makes her so valuable that she is auctioned off to the highest...

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December 28  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
When 2015 dawns bright and shiny, lots of people will begin new exercise regimes. Running, walking, biking, or the gym — there are lots of options out there. Personally, I'm an exercise video junkie. If you open up my media cabinet, "Buns of Steel" might hit you on the head.

Unfortunately for our storage space, I am not joking. We still own a VHS so I can watch old Kathy Smith videos. If you root around hard enough, you'll find Jane Fonda sitting next to...

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December 21  |  By Jenny Bardsley
If Disneyland is "The Happiest Place on Earth" what is Walt Disney World? I've wondered that ever since my family got back from our trip to Orlando. I think "euphoria" and "exhaustion" should both be in the motto.

I feel a bit guilty, but pulling my kids out of school the first week of December to visit Walt Disney World was totally worth it. That's when the crowds are supposed to be the smallest. I grew up going to Disneyland where you...

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December 14  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
Can you hear the stamp of felt feet? There is an army of elves mobilizing in Puget Sound, like they do every year without fail. Christmas House, Holly House, Matthew House, Toys for Tots; volunteers from every city work hard to bring a merry holiday to thousands of children whose families are on hard times.

Administrative elves work all year. They attend meetings, plan calendars and predict needs. Tinkering elves scout garage sales for bikes that can be fixed up and...

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December 7  |  By Jenny Bardsley
Have you ever endured six hours of snuggly hell? It's called flying home for Christmas with an infant.

When you show up at the boarding gate with Junior, airline passengers look at you with disgust — except for the first class people who assume you won't be seated next to them.

There you are with your diaper bag, breast pump, car seat and stroller. Hopefully your luggage doesn't get lost because your only outfit has spit up on it.

Nobody wants...

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November 30  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
In June of 2000 our family room couch first entered our lives. When my husband and I brought it home from Macy's, we were as nervous as any first time couch owners could be. Would the leather always be so soft? Would we be able to protect this furniture from harm?

As couches go, this one was a beaut. It was the type of couch that women want to buy and men want to sleep on. Brown with clean lines and soft padded arms, our couch could be equally comfortable in a formal...

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November 23  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
Maps confound me. There, I said it. I know my way around Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace really well, but anywhere else I'm lost.

If you take me to Eastern Washington I get even more disoriented. Case in point, on my first ever trip to Lake Chelan we took a break for lunch. "We're stopping in Leavenworth?" I asked, surprised. "I had no idea we'd drive through Leavenworth."

My husband, who's a Washington native, couldn't believe I...

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November 16  |  
One of the great joys of driving is listening to the radio. But when you have young kids in the backseat, which station you choose can be tricky because of bad words, scary news stories and off-color DJ humor.KPLU 88.5 is the perfect example. I love NPR and listen to it whenever I can — but not when my 5-year-old is in the car. I don’t want her to hear about atrocities in Iraq or other horrors because she could get nightmares. Jazz is much easier on little ears.

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November 9  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
When is it time to let your children walk to school? Here's a difficult question: How old should a child be before he walks home from school alone? Let's say we're talking about a short distance in a quiet neighborhood. Does that change your answer?

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November 2  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
I'm on the verge of doing something terrifying. I might offer to host Thanksgiving.

Fourth of July is easy. Been there, done that. Easter? No sweat. Christmas is a lot harder, but I'm experienced. Last December I cooked for 20 people.

But Thanksgiving has so many strings attached I get flustered even thinking about it.

First I'd have to hunt for the right bird. I know how to coupon and get a gigantic free turkey. But would a factory farmed bird taste...

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