Living

Family

Ask Mr. Dad: Turning chaos to order; or at least to less chaos

Dear Mr. Dad: My 13-year-old son is, to put it nicely, a disorganized pack rat and his room looks like a cyclone went through it. But that's not what worries me. The bigger problem is that he doesn't keep track of his school assignments and due dates. Consequently, he either waits 'til the last second to get things done, turns them in late, or doesn't do them at all. He's a smart kid, and despite all of this, he manages to get pretty good grades. But he's starting high school next year and I don't think there's any way he'll be able to maintain this level of chaos in his life and still do well enough to get into a good college. How can I get him more organized?

Family

Chris Erskine: Silly things that soothe

Tell me, what's the statute of limitations on Christmas pajamas? How many months can you wear the pair your daughter gave you because they mean a little extra? Silly and flannel, dopey little Santa faces everywhere. Warm as chowder.

Family

Ex-etiquette: Leave photos in kids' rooms or start packing

Q: I have been dating my guy for about a year. He has been divorced for two years and has two kids, ages 8 and 11, that he has half the time. A month ago he asked me to move in, and I was over the moon. Here's my problem: The kids have pictures of their mom in their rooms. It bugs me. It's my house now. Why do I have to look at pictures of my guy's ex? I've asked him to take them out of their rooms, but he has refused. What's good ex-etiquette?

Family

The importance of teaching kids to be kind to pets

The Kuerner brothers, John, 4, and Will, 6, had fun last summer gathering branches and leaves for bird nests, touching real bird feathers and gathering nuts and berries for wildlife - all as part of a Backyard Buddies program at PAWS in Seattle.

Living

Countdown to college: So you think your kid is a superstar �

What parent or child doesn't dream of that photograph on "Signing Day," when that big athletic scholarship for their child is real. After all those practices and games in the freezing cold and the blazing heat, after all that carpooling, the snack assignments and the cheering as well as the consolation, your kid deserves a scholarship, right? Well we can all dream, but reality tells us a different story.

Family

Babies by the book

My wife, Elaina, loves babies. She loves to have them, to hold them, to nurse, and to stroll them. She knows everything there is to know about kids, it seems to me, including the best brands of strollers, baby wraps and baby and kid fashion, as well as a number of other topics about which I remain blissfully ignorant.

Home & Garden

Yardsmart: How to pick the perfect wildflowers for your garden

Whenever you disturb a lot of ground, there's an opportunity to sow wildflowers for beauty and erosion control. Flowers such as the red European corn poppy made the battlefields bloom bright red after the World War I armistice to germinate in a single massive display. The ground, pocked with excavated trenches, bomb craters and vehicle tracks allowed so much dormant seed to sprout that it became a symbol of veteran sacrifice. When your yard or property is torn up for any reason, that's the ideal time to sow not just for a spring flower show, but to help stabilize the soil against erosion by rain and runoff.

Travel

Travel deal: Romance in the Costa Rican rainforest

The deal: Escape the cold and reconnect with a couples' "Rainforest Bliss" package from Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa. Enjoy adventure, relaxation and fine dining together on the property that sits at the base of the Arenal Volcano and its natural hot springs.

Videos

Video catches vandal wrapping bacon on door handle of Davis mosque to offend Muslims

Six windowpanes were smashed and strips of uncooked bacon were placed on an exterior door handle just after 3:45 a.m., Davis police said. Police are calling it a hate crime because pork Muslims are prohibited from eating pork products. The security camera video also showed her slicing the seat of a bicycle and cutting the tires several bikes.
Video courtesy of CAIR
Video catches vandal wrapping bacon on door handle of Davis mosque to offend Muslims 2:21

Video catches vandal wrapping bacon on door handle of Davis mosque to offend Muslims

Tour Folsom Button Up Boutique with owner Robin Bernardoni 3:04

Tour Folsom Button Up Boutique with owner Robin Bernardoni

What's inside Petaluma Seed Bank 1:06

What's inside Petaluma Seed Bank

No ark? Animals menaced by flooding find a warm place to ride out the storms 1:15

No ark? Animals menaced by flooding find a warm place to ride out the storms