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I Brake for Moms
August 30  |  
My first trip to Wild Waves involved nausea, near hypothermia — and a whole lot of fun.

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August 23  |  By Jenny Bardsley Special to The Herald
Every time a recreational vehicle passes me on the highway I dream about purchasing a motor home. Unfortunately, my husband doesn’t share my vision.“Do you imagine yourself parking this imaginary RV?” he asks me.“Don’t be ridiculous,” I say, shuddering as I recall all of my near-misses parking the car in our garage. “You’d drive and I’d be the navigator. Or at least, I’d plug in the Garmin. Let’s not get hung up on details.”

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August 16  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
Many years ago when I was a new mom and my days were filled with co-op preschool and deep discussions with my little guy about bulldozers, there were posters in downtown Edmonds featuring prominent residents reading books. I don't remember who was in this literacy campaign, but I do recall thinking: "Since I'm a stay-at-home mom, nobody cares about what I read."

Maybe you have felt this way too — unnoticed. Every time you turn on the television...

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August 9  |  
Last night I told my husband, “The next time I suggest our family go out to dinner, splash cold water on my face and steal $60 from my wallet. That would probably be more fun.”We were driving home from the Black Angus.

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August 2  |  
I spent 14 months breastfeeding each of my babies and was rewarded by countless hours of listening to their happy slurping noises. None of that would have been possible without my sister-in-law from Lake Stevens who got me through rough patches, especially during the first five weeks.

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July 26  |  
School is right around the corner, so have fun while the sun shines Do you ever look back through life and judge your summers as good, bad or forgettable? Perhaps you spent a summer traveling, or welcoming a newborn baby into your family. Possibly a loved one died, or you suffered a horrendous break-up. Or maybe you don't remember a particular summer at all because nothing interesting happened.

We only get 18 summers with our kids before they grow up and leave. Subtract the summers when you're wiping their butts and then take away the...

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July 19  |  By Jenny Bardsley Special to The Herald
It was a hot summer evening on Puget Sound. I sat with a group of adults overlooking the water's edge and watched Mount Rainer fade into pink and purple. The lights of distant airplanes flickered high above the Seattle skyline. Indianola was hot — but comfortable, the perfect place for friends to gather. In an hour or two there would be s'mores, but right then there was only the lazy smell of sunscreen.

It had been a long day of swimming and kayaking. The tide had...

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July 12  |  
Today I feel like ranting.This whole week I’ve felt like ranting. I curse the plaques and tangles in the brain — and who knows what else — that cause Alzheimer’s disease. I cry one minute, and put on my brave face the next. I go for a walk. I drink a glass of wine. I contemplate driving to See’s Candy and eating an entire pound of chocolates.Most of all I sit and endure. After many years of watching someone I love enter dementia, now I witness their abilities deteriorate further.

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July 5  |  
I hope you have already eaten breakfast because this story might gross you out.

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June 28  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
Using a little magic to put my house in order The workers at Goodwill know me by sight because I'm an almost daily donator. I've been following advice in a book by Marie Kondo called "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing" that has sold over 2 million copies worldwide.

Kondo's basic premise is this: If a possession does not bring you joy then it does not belong in your home. She does not believe in organizing anything until you have first gone through your...

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June 21  |  By Jenny Bardsley Special to The Herald
We've learned a lot from our TV dads over the years — which one best describes you? Fatherhood has changed a lot over the past few decades, especially when you turn on the television. But we've learned a lot from our television dads. Which TV father best represents you?

Charles Ingalls (without the prairie)

Forget the throw-away lifestyle the rest of the world lives, you teach your kids to build from scratch and fix things when they break. You might not have extra money to spoil your kids rotten, but you sing to them on a...

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June 14  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
The end is in sight. Soon I'll be done packing school lunches.

Last September I had really good intentions. If you opened my cabinets you would see neatly stacked rows of reusable containers. I kept a marker right next to the napkins so I could write uplifting messages. "Mom loves you! Have a great day!" I even bought a sandwich shaper so I could cut bread into a beehive and a cute little bumblebee. Every night I packed organic fruit, crudités and...

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June 7  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
Many resources go into putting dinner on the table.

I don't know about you, but I never go on a government website unless I need to make camping reservations or put my mail on hold. However, one government site worth exploring is the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion Cost of Food page. It breaks down what average people spend on groceries by following thrifty, low cost, moderate cost, or liberal plans.

In March of 2015 for example, the data says...

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May 31  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
I am extremely ashamed to admit this, but when I was 19 years old I used to steal toilet paper. I worked two separate jobs, seven days a week, and took 20 units in college. It was the year of El Niño and I didn't have a car. I either had to grocery shop by bus, which was expensive, or bike to my apartment with grocery bags hanging off my handlebars, assaulted by rain.

I still remember totaling up my food costs at the end of winter quarter and realizing I spent $326...

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May 24  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
As a former teacher, I'd like to say something on behalf of teachers: If you have an issue with your child at school please take it to the appropriate individuals on campus or, in private, to your friends, not online where people in the teacher's community might see.

Teachers dedicate their lives to helping kids and don't deserve to have their professional reputations become the fodder for people typing anonymous comments on cell phones.

Personally, I go even...

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May 17  |  
Last fall my son turned into a calorie torcher. Every time I looked at him he was running in place, doing jumping jacks, or engaged in "hyper-mode," his own full body workout invention. He was on a mission to accrue as many activity points as possible on his SQORD Booster.

Herald writer Sharon Salyer wrote a great article about this in November called "Keep kids moving for points and prizes in fitness program." A large group of local organizations...

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May 10  |  By Jenny Bardsley Special to The Herald
Motherhood is a constant test; here's how to keep score Conception is only the beginning. Let's see how deeply motherhood has scarred your soul. Give yourself credit for every description that applies to you …

Bodily Fluids

• You've done a "sniff check" to see if your baby needed a diaper change: 10 points.

• You've survived a poopcapocalypse in a public space: 20 points.

• Your child vomited in the car: 30 points.

• Your child...

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May 3  |  By Jennifer Bardsley.
Foster mom gives pups a new leash on life When I was 9 years old we discovered I was severely allergic to anything with fur. Years of medication and allergy shots have helped, but unfortunately our household pet situation is limited to our beta, Princess Rip-Jaws.

But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy a good dog story, and my friend, Karen Knight, provides me with plenty.

Karen personifies what it means to be a modern stay-at-home parent. I don't know when she has time to sleep, let alone grocery shop.

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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 ConsumersReports.org 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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