Ex-etiquette: My husband's ex wants to borrow my dress

Q: I have been trying to cultivate a more casual relationship with my husband's ex. We share the kids's time in 7-day blocks – a week with us and a week with her and I figured a more casual interaction would help the cause. But, yesterday she asked to borrow my favorite dress for an event we'll both attend. She knows I won't be wearing it – I just wore it to an occasion, so she wants to. I don't want to be THAT good of friends, but I'm afraid if I say no because it might upset my bonusdaughter. She's so happy her mom and I get along. What's good ex-etiquette?


Five questions for fashion icon Iris Apfel

As an interior designer, Iris Apfel had a client list that included Greta Garbo, Marjorie Merriweather Post, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Estee Lauder. But that is not what she is known for. Apfel is famous for being fabulous, or to be more accurate, dressing fabulously.


Living with Children: What to do if your 17-year-old is flunking out

Q: Our 17-year-old son is flunking his junior year in high school. Flunking is not a possibility; it is a definite, a done deal. He has passed the point where he could turn this around. He's very intelligent and made reasonably good grades until his sophomore year. He's not depressed in the least, he doesn't do drugs or drink, has lots of friends (all of whom are going to be seniors next year), and his teachers all like him despite his poor performance. He participates in class discussion but does not complete assignments and doesn't study for tests. The school said they could promote him if we agree to have him classified as a "special needs" child (as in ADHD) who needs accommodations, but we refused. So, he doesn't have enough credits to be a senior and will have to repeat most of his junior classes. We are at wits end. He wants to go to summer school where he can make up some if not most of the classes he flunked, but we have plans for the summer and aren't about to make the whole family sacrifice because of his irresponsibility. He responds by threatening to drop out of school and go into the Army. We hope you have some ideas we haven't thought about or already tried.


Ask Mr. Dad: What adolescents need from their fathers

Dear Mr. Dad. I'm the dad of 12-year old boy-girl twins. I've already noticed that my relationship with them has changed, but I want to make sure I'm doing everything I can to stay involved as they enter the teen years. What do they need most from me and how can I gently steer them in the right direction?


Un-bore your chores

Mary Poppins got Jane and Michael to pitch in by making work fun. You can too! Just channel your own mommy magic with these ideas.

Home & Garden

Yardsmart: 3 common mulching problems

There is no single panacea to the ravages of drought. The most popular practice for water conservation that protects existing gardens is to mulch. It's adding a layer of organic material around each plant to reduce surface soil evaporation rates. That layer also shades the soil so it and the roots remain cool on the hottest days. Mulches also prevent pernicious grasses and weeds from sprouting where they compete with our landscape plants for irrigation. In times of too little rain, mulching is one of the few measures we have to reduce its effect on our expensive plants.

Meet the Sacramento service dogs who spent the day training in Disneyland

This group of service dogs spent the day in Disneyland last month as a part of their training with Canine Companions for Independence. The dogs are based in Sacramento for their training.
Emily Zentner