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Q: My boyfriend of two years and I broke up for a short while, but we have reconciled and I moved back in about two months ago. His ex-wife, who is constantly causing trouble with the kids, continues to ask him out for coffee, for dinner, to join her skiing. It's really maddening and she won't stop! What's good ex-etiquette?

A family meeting is called to rein in expenses using a family budget while also trying to keep the 23-year-old and 28-year-old financially afloat.

Dear Mr. Dad: I'm not a whiz in the kitchen but I learned enough as a kid to make it through college without having to subsist solely on peanut butter sandwiches and Ramen noodles. My wife and I both cook meals but we can't seem to get our son (age 11) remotely interested in cooking. How do we get him interested in learning how to cook for himself?

We have a near obsession with clean, myself included.

The message was brief. I read it twice: "Hey, Mom, can I come see you guys this weekend?"

Q: Your son says your no-Snapchat rule makes him an outcast. Should you cave?

Q: My 18-year-old son and a slightly younger friend recently found some mice and decided to dispose of them. They drowned one and set the other one on fire. When I confronted my son for torturing animals, his response was "They're just mice." Is this typical boy behavior or should I be concerned?

When the children start school. When they get older. When they go off to college. When they leave the house to settle on their own.

CHICAGO - I'm still baffled by the Dow Jones industrial average and I'm not yet confident I could cook a turkey. But I take comfort in the many instructive notes I received upon admitting how little I know after four decades on Earth. ("Celebrating 40th birthday with a 10-year to-do list," March 23. Find it at chicagotribune.com/turning40.)

If you missed National Grilled Cheese Day on April 12, don't fret. April is National Grilled Cheese Month! This staple of childhood lunches can be either as simple or as stellar as the ingredients you choose. Switch up your bread, cheese and other fillings for a whole new take on a classic. Once you've exhausted those options, pull out a press or improvise with a grill pan for paninis or think south of the border with quesadillas. Whatever your pleasure, there's an option for grilled cheese and healthy side dishes for balanced family meals all month long.

"Giuliana & Bill" star Bill Rancic is set to host the Food Network show, "Kitchen Casino," which premiered April 7 at 9 p.m, ET/PT. The new show brings together four talented chefs in a high-stakes game of chance that requires skill, speed and adaptability.

You can really spend a ton on your kid's sports, especially if you have more than one child playing. Here are some ways I've cut the cost:

Are you raising an animal lover? If so, chances are they've already asked for a puppy, kitten, guinea pig, lizard, snake or bird of their own. Bringing home a pet is a big decision and shouldn't be taken lightly - especially if you have young kids in your home. I've put together some tips and advice to help ensure your decision is the right one - whatever that may be.

There are some names that we've become so accustomed to seeing on the covers of People et al., attached to the babes of Tinseltown, that we assume that their popularity has instantly spread beyond the confines of Malibu and Calabasas. But it ain't necessarily so. There are several appellations worn by more than one starbaby that have yet to hit the current Top 1000 list - though this could change with the new rankings coming next month! Some of these names did have some 19th or 20th century success; others have never entered the list at all.

Technology can tell parents how fast their teen is driving or where he is at any given time with ease.

So I'm looking at my day planner, and on April 11, I had penciled in "Last Day." I noticed it last week, but I was thinking that it was the last day of Lent. But that's next Thursday. And then I thought maybe it's the last day to finish my taxes. But that's next week too.

The first-born kids in a family do better in school than their siblings who follow, perhaps in part because they face more intense monitoring and rules, a new study finds. Parents tend to limit TV watching, for example, and monitor homework more with "earlier-born children" than with those that follow, the researchers found.

Give a traditional egg hunt a fun, nature-friendly spin with this idea from blogger Deb Olmstead of imaginechildhood.com. Fill emptied and washed eggshells with birdseed, then hide them in your yard (or a local park that allows bird feeding) for all your wild neighbors. "You can go on an outdoor adventure when you look for hiding places," says Deb.

Having a life of my own while also being a wife and the mom of a tween, who still enjoys spending time with me, gives me a guilt complex sometimes.

Courtney Grady understands the allure of video games.

Next to regular Barbie - that unrealistically proportioned nemesis of "normal" female bodies everywhere - the more compact stature and rounder curves of "Average Barbie," created by Greenfield, Pa., artist and researcher Nickolay Lamm, looked like a healthier version of the female form to many who saw it online.

Spring is finally here, and after a particularly brutal and prolonged winter it is a welcome relief. With spring comes Easter and other spring holidays; it also is the time when children of separated and blended families can feel anxiety, manifesting in "bad" behavior. Using each person's dominant sense, you will be able to have an understanding of when they are not coping and also how to alleviate their anxiety and concerns.

It's Wednesday morning in Old Colorado City, and 10 new moms and their babies have arrived with their yoga mats.

Family vacations are an excellent time to reconnect. As kids blossom into teenagers, they want their independence and tend to spend more time participating in extracurricular activities, hanging out with friends, at sporting events or working. At times your home may feel like a group of people living under the same roof without a lot of interaction. As kids grow older, family time is more difficult to juggle with busier schedules and multiple priorities.

How is it that giving candy and chocolate to kids has become such a major part of so many holiday celebrations? Every one of those holidays has its own, special, traditional sugary treat. In the case of Easter, of course, it's eggs and bunnies. But these days we're hearing from more and more parents of very young children who are looking for two things: reduced-sugar treats for the kiddies, and toys that aren't too big for their little ones to pick up and play with. Here are some of our spring Easter-basket-stuffing faves that satisfy both of those requirements.

Years ago, I had a stunning realization that has served me well in all my seasons since.

Your daughter is a couch potato. Will urging her to get more exercise give her a bad body image?

Dear Mr. Dad: My son is 6, and he's still having temper tantrums. Call me crazy, but I thought they would have petered out long ago. Most of the other parents we know say their kids stopped having tantrums when they were 2 or 3. But my son is giving no indication that he's going to relent anytime soon. What should we do? How long do we have to wait for him to stop?

I did something the other night I've spent 20 years teaching my children not to do.

It was a last-minute deal. I left dirty dishes in the sink, grabbed two flags from the garage and met the husband mid-town. I parked my car at a Chili's (thanks Chili's), hopped in his car and we zipped to the airport.



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