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I Brake for Moms
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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December 27  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
A few months ago I did something that scared the crap out of me: I joined a gym.

Luckily, my eighth grade PE teacher isn't there, yelling at me with her megaphone to run the mile. Instead, my gym in Lynnwood is friendly, bright and easy to navigate. It only costs $30 a month which seems like a bargain. Plus, it has a pool, which I've never been brave enough to enter, but I like knowing it is there.

The only thing that bothers me is the artwork. All around the...

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December 20  |  By Jenny Bardsley Special to The Herald
Have you heard the saying "Don't judge your inside by somebody else's outside?" It means that just because the person next to you seems like he is happy, that does not necessarily mean he is. Appearances can be deceiving. On the inside, he might feel as stressed out as you are.

I think of that bit of wisdom every time I look at Christmas cards.

Now don't get me wrong, I adore Christmas cards. They make the whole season brighter. But sometimes they...

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December 13  |  By Jennifer Bardsley
The malls are packed with eager shoppers searching for the perfect holiday gift. I am one of them, trudging my way through Alderwood mall. Back at the parking lot I made a crucial decision: coat or no coat? I opted for the latter and now I face the freezing consequences as I venture outside to hit REI, Williams-Sonoma and the American Girl store.

The Christmas displays are pretty but I'm torn between the happiness I feel purchasing gifts for my loved ones, and the nagging...

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December 6  |  By Jenny Bardsley
The only magic this Elf has is getting suckers to buy him I was cornered by a group of 10 6-year-olds in identical blue Girl Scout uniforms.

"Why does your elf have no magic?" they all asked in unison, staring me down.

My own daughter stood off to the side, glaring at me with accusation. It was the last Daisy troop meeting of the year and the girls had discovered my Elf on the Shelf flopped on the kitchen counter looking neglected.

Either you already know all about the Elf on the Shelf, or else...

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November 29  |  
When I was in teacher credentialing school I received barely any instruction about dyslexia. This is tragic because the International Dyslexia Association says that “as many as 15 to 20 percent of the population as a whole ... have some of the symptoms of dyslexia.”My first real experience with dyslexia was with a smart third-grade girl named “Estella.” Estella was supposed to be in fourth grade but the school held her back because she read at the kindergarten level.

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November 22  |  
I want to teach my kids that the holidays are about more than an excuse to pig out. When I think back to past things I have said, I shudder.“Pumpkin pie counts as a vegetable.”“If we were Shakers, we would eat apple pie for breakfast. This is a history lesson.”“Eggnog has protein. Drink up.”“A midnight turkey sandwich is about tradition, not calories.”“It would be rude not to eat those cookies because Grammy worked hard to bake them.”

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November 15  |  
There is a new guy in my life. He is handsome, physically fit, a good listener and totally committed to me. I am of course talking about my poodle, Merlin.His devotion is so steadfast that he even keeps me company when I fold laundry. Merlin stares at me while I brush my teeth. When I come home from the grocery store Merlin is at the window, awaiting my return.

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November 8  |  By Jenny Bardsley
When dinner and the home cook need an upgrade Getting dinner on the table in the middle of school, work and kids' schedules is a complicated task. It is tempting to fall back on simple, repetitive recipes that are easy to prepare and you know your family will eat.

For me that means my tried-and-true schedule: Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Wheatless Wednesdays, Throwback Thursdays, Fish of Fridays, Spaghetti Saturdays and Sunday Chicken Dinners. Can you tell I have been stuck in a cooking rut?

On...

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November 1  |  
Last year on Halloween I woke up, threw on a pair of jeans and an orange sweater, and headed down to breakfast to discover my husband wearing the exact same outfit.“We cannot go out in public like this,” I declared.He looked at me over the brim of his coffee mug. “I don’t have time to change. I’m late for work.”“I’m in a rush too!” I had permission slips to sign, two school drop-offs and a pile of laundry to deal with.

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October 25  |  
Lately I’ve been exploring the notion that almost all of life’s problems can be solved by one simple prescription: “Go for a walk.”Kids are driving you crazy? Go for a walk. Need to lose weight? Go for a walk. Feeling depressed? Go for a walk. Can’t sleep? Go for a walk.

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October 18  |  By Jenny Bardsley
I hate it when people preach about the sacredness of family dinners. My family sits together at the dinner table seven nights a week and it hasn't magically turned any of us into angels.

My daughter has not grown to love butternut squash because she has been exposed to it 16 times like the experts advise. I still carry an extra 3 pounds despite designing meals around organic vegetables and lean protein. Where is the dinner-time Utopia I was promised?

I am sure...

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October 11  |  
Multiple generations have been inspired by 'Boys in the Boat' Sometimes it feels like I spend all day in the car. School drop-offs, pick-ups and errands; thank goodness the price of gas has dropped or I'd be broke. I'll admit there are days when the thought of one more trip to the grocery store makes me want to scream.

But lately driving the mom-mobile hasn't seemed so bad. That's because I'm listening to Daniel James Brown's bestselling book "The Boys in the Boat" on audio CD. Earlier this year the Everett Public...

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October 4  |  
Adopting perfect pup can be a tough magic trick
Before I attempted adopting a poodle I was warned how difficult it might be. “Fill out an application at every rescue organization you can find,” one friend told me. “Be prepared for a home visit,” said another.I shrugged off all of this advice with a how-hard-can-it-be attitude and logged onto Petfinder.com. Surely the perfect dog was waiting for us in a 20-mile radius to be picked up that day.Wrong.

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September 27  |  
At my house once the clock chimes 4 o'clock every minute counts. Snack, homework, outside time, dinner, television and bed — we try hard to stick to a routine, but it's difficult not to let extracurriculars smash our schedule to bits.

How much is too much? I ask myself that question every time I look at our family calendar. How much homework? How much TV? How many chores? How many activities? The answers seem like they should be easy to determine and yet they...

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September 20  |  
There are many reasons to dance for joy at the doctor’s office — a clean biopsy, a positive pregnancy test, or a successful vasectomy all come to mind. But is approval to get a poodle worthy of such jubilation? My kids definitely think so. Our potential for dog ownership weighed heavily on their minds this summer when my son was tested for allergies.

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September 13  |  By Jenny Bardsley Special to The Herald
Sometimes the easiest jobs are the hardest to do. For me, the simple — yet extraordinarily difficult — chore before me is sorting through four moving boxes. They come from a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease who has transitioned into a memory-care facility.

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September 6  |  By Jenny Bardsley Special to The Herald
Learning to speak Instagram
When I was in high school I studied Spanish. Now I’m working my butt off to become fluent in Instagram.

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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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