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I Brake for Moms
June 26  |  
Word to the wise, if you throw dried lemon balm onto a campfire it smells like an entirely different type of weed — but it won't help first-graders drift off to sleep. I learned this tip when my Brownie troop camped in my back yard.

A few days prior, the girls walked over a path of rose petals and lemon balm as they officially bridged from Daisies to Brownies.

Twenty years ago, I was a Brownie who crossed over a bridge. I still remember Mrs. Weddle...

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June 19  |  
Dads of Snohomish County, there might not be tickets to Rio in your future, but that doesn’t mean you’re not in the greatest sporting event of your life: Fatherhood. The pressure is on to medal in all events. Let’s see how you score.Swimming1. You know what a swim diaper is, and how to use it. (10 points)2. You forge new paths at the public pool that do not involve escorting your 4-year-old daughter through the men’s locker room. (20 points)

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June 12  |  
When I was a little girl growing up in the 1980s, birthday parties were carbon copies of each other. The store-bought invitation arrived in the mail and you knew what to expect. Your mom would drop you off with the present, there would be some classic games like "Pin the Tail on the Donkey," everyone would eat cake and ice cream and then the birthday child would open presents. If you were lucky, there would be a piñata.

Occasionally, birthday parties...

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June 5  |  By Jennifer Bardsley Herald Columnist
24 hours in the life of debut author Jennifer Bardsley 11:38 p.m. It's two weeks before the launch of my Young Adult novel, "Genesis Girl," which comes out June 14 from Month9Books. My husband is sound asleep in bed, and I'm standing at the bathroom sink fiddling with the essential oil diffuser I bought because I was so stressed out.

Sadly, no amount of "Mellow Mix" seems to help, especially since the piece of junk won't work. Instead of gurgling, it sputters, and the cord is tangled...

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May 29  |  Jenny Bardsley
I am not normally the type of woman who plans out her wardrobe to the very last accessory, but this Thursday I know exactly what to wear: the color orange. June 2 is National Gun Violence Awareness Day. I will be joining people all across the country who wear orange to express that we are heartbroken by gun violence in America — and that we want our lawmakers to find solutions.

Orange is the color hunters use to say "Don't shoot me!" It's also the color...

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May 22  |  
It doesn’t matter what parenting book you crack open, there is almost always a chapter on consequences. When your child struggles, the implied advice from experts shouts: “It’s your fault, parents!” They insist that if your child does not learn from consequences, it is because you, the parent, did not select the right consequence, or else you were not consistent about enforcing them.

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May 15  |  
Tomorrow marks the four-year-anniversary of “I Brake for Moms” and I want to express what a pleasure it is to join you each week. Often people ask me how this column came to be, and I thought I’d fill you in on the history.

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May 8  |  
Congratulations, Moms! Your special day is finally here. Now’s your chance to grade it.1) Mother’s Day wouldn’t be complete without breakfast in bed.A: The French toast is delicious, your servers are angels and there are fresh flowers on your tray. (10 points)B: Breakfast is edible — and accompanied by squabbling over who will carry the tray into your room. (5 points)

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May 1  |  
The list of words you can’t say seems to get longer every year, and rightly so. Words have meaning that runs deeper than phonemes. Our values express themselves in the words we choose.Some words that were common in my childhood seem obviously wrong in the light of a new century. The word “retarded” comes to mind. I never said that word when I was little, but I heard it frequently. It is a despicable word, and should not be said.

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April 24  |  
The end of school is in sight, and this means that parents are asking themselves the big question: “Is my child ready for the next grade?” For parents of struggling readers, this question is critical.Teaching kids to read is like throwing wet noodles against the wall. The teacher is the chef, with a big pot of pasta. In her kettle are spaghetti noodles, rigatoni, wagon wheels and macaroni. After she drains the water she tosses the entire pot at the kitchen wall.

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April 17  |  
Every Tuesday the parking lot at the Carol Rowe Memorial Food Bank located at Edmonds United Methodist Church is packed. In 2015, the food bank provided 594,468 meals and helped 59,657 individuals; 130 people volunteer there each week.A few blocks up the street, the Edmonds Elementary School ball fields are becoming crowded too — with Canada geese.

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April 10  |  By Jenny Bardsley
The tired-old story goes like this: Kids beg their mom for a dog. The kids swear up and down that they will take care of the dog. The mom buys the kids a dog. The kids love Mom! Six months later Mom has to incessantly remind the kids to fill the dog's water dish. The mom feels screwed over.

This is not that story.

Saturday morning I wake up and stumble downstairs to make coffee. I look around the kitchen for the water-filter and see it on the floor next to the...

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April 3  |  
Downed tree shakes up family — especially Merlin
Merlin is afraid of our backyard. He was never the bravest poodle to begin with, but now he’s a complete coward. I can’t say that I blame him. Last month our backyard almost killed us.

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March 27  |  
Last night the Easter Bunny hopped all over town and deposited plastic eggs filled with cavity-inducing crap. In some homes, the Easter Bunny used magic to transform planted jelly beans into gardens of lollipops. How bunnies relate to eggs, how eggs relate to candy and how jellybeans relate to lollipops is part of the great mystery of Easter.

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March 20  |  
The most beautiful view in Edmonds is from the women’s restroom on the third floor of the Frances Anderson Center. You can see all the way across the water to the Olympic Peninsula.Not only does the restroom offer breathtaking views of Puget Sound, it’s also cozy-warm. No matter how gray the day is, the radiator creates the perfect temperature. I’ve often wished I could move in, or at least set up a portable desk with my laptop computer.

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March 13  |  
If the world was a more magical place, you could send your children off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to be reared into adulthood without any effort from you. (Wouldn’t that be lovely?) One of the first things that would happen to your kids after they stepped off the Hogwarts Express would be the Sorting Ceremony.

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March 6  |  Jenny Bardsley
Words fail when visiting a dementia patient.

I never fully understood what "living in the moment" meant until I watched my loved one decline from Alzheimer's disease.

"I bought you some cookies at the store," I say as soon as I enter her room in the memory care unit. I hold out my offering, two pieces of shortbread covered in pink sprinkles.

"What are they?" she asks.

"They're cookies." I...

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February 28  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
You know you're sick when the bathroom floor seems like the best place to sleep. That's exactly where I was a couple of weeks ago, with a roll of toilet paper as my pillow. I prayed to the porcelain goddess so hard that my husband brought me a sleeping bag because crawling back to the couch was too difficult.

The stomach bug had bit our kids two days before. My son escaped fifth-grade humiliation by his quick-thinking teacher, who sent him off into the hall with a trash...

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February 21  |  
As a parent, I need more than chocolate and caffeine to keep “adulting.” I also need encouragement. I bet you do too. Raising kids is such hard work, that we need all the love and support we can get. So if this past week left you feeling low, then this column is for you.Are your kids sometimes late to school? Congratulations for getting them out the door.

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February 14  |  
This Valentine’s Day when I stare at my husband my knees go weak. My heart beats hard and I feel a little flutter. Plus, my hands are icy cold. My arms began to shake. My mind races and I began to think crazy things.Did I mention I’m bracing a 20-foot ladder while my husband cleans out the gutters? After 15 years of marriage we really know how to celebrate. Instead of a little black dress and heels, I’m in sweats and a puffer coat.

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February 7  |  
I own a $1,000 piece of junk called a front-loader washing machine. It's supposed to be quiet, energy efficient, water-wise and capable of cleaning 18 towels in one load. No wonder I whipped out my credit card to purchase it five years ago in a fabric-softener-influenced haze.

That was a big mistake.

For starters, there's no difference whatsoever in our utility bill. I thought the cost savings in water and electricity would help the front-loader pay for itself.

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January 31  |  By Jenny Bardsley
#MomsNeedNews isn't a famous hashtag, but it should be. There are so many things to keep track of within a 50-mile radius of our children, that moms need news all the time.

What is happening to our local grocery store? Did the superintendent of schools announce his retirement? Are the red-light cameras fair and is there any way to contest a ticket? Is the new restaurant in town any good? Will the next Little League game be in the rain?

The scary questions, the...

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January 24  |  By Jenny Bardsley
Waiting for book to come out is like 3-year pregnancy
Imagine being pregnant for three years. You have a widget on your phone counting the days to a distant due date. Secretly you fear that day will never arrive. Your friends aren’t used to three-year gestations, but they bolster you with support. When you see the first ultrasound of your child’s face, you relax just a little bit, because you can finally picture the baby resting in your arms.

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January 17  |  By Jenny Bardsley
Somehow between “Leave it To Beaver” and “Modern Family” most of us developed this crazy notion that the American Dream is tied to home ownership. Sure, a white-picket fence might be overkill, but we definitely want a mortgage, our own roof and the blissful delusion that we aren’t throwing money down a rat hole every month.But from where I’m sitting, renting sounds pretty good. Heck, even a rat hole sounds nice and cozy.

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January 10  |  By Jenny Bardsley
How well do your children know you? If they sifted through a stack of biographies with the names blacked out, could they find the one that belonged to you?I could have sworn my kids knew me inside out. After all, I’ve devoted my whole life to the little monsters. Surely they would be able to answer such basic questions as “Where was I born? How old am I?” and “When is my birthday?”

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January 3  |  By Jenny Bardsley
Being embarrassed by your kids is a joy that every parent experiences at an inopportune moment. But being embarrassed by your dog? I did not see that one coming.Our poodle Merlin is full of surprises, and most of them aren’t the type you wrap up as presents.

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