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DFW Moms

My daughter's room is a mess.

Toddlers can be demanding and unrelenting. And if you have one, you know they're also kind of strange. Doorknob licking and barking like a dog are commonplace. But these freaky behaviors do pass. "The vast majority of strange toddler behaviors are short-lived phases," says Heather Wittenberg, PsyD, psychologist and author of "Let's Get This Potty Started! The BabyShrink's Guide to Potty Training Your Toddler."

Summer break is a great time to introduce children to planning and preparing meals. While children as young as 3 can help scrub potatoes or tear lettuce, once children reach school age, they can take a more active role in meal preparation. Learning to follow a recipe is a life skill that all children need and is applicable to many aspects of life even out of the kitchen. If you are hesitant to set your Junior Chefs loose with the stove or oven, these "no cooking required" recipes might be just the thing for starters.

Popular culture would have us believe finding love in the summer is as easy as finding sand on a beach. Countless movies, novels and TV shows perpetuate the notion that when school's out, the temperature is up and clothes are scarce, romantic encounters with attractive, thoughtful, chiseled strangers happen all the time.

Despite all the rosy news one hears these days about sinking unemployment numbers and a rising economy, plenty of people are still having financial issues. As a result, a lot of families are taking their vacations a little closer to home. This week, we review a few cool items that will make any family road/camping trip a success.

Frederick Brown wakes up at 7 a.m. - eager, alert and ready to go.

Dear Mr. Dad: My 12-year-old daughter recently had a slumber party with two friends from school. One of them left her phone. I texted my daughter so she could tell her friend, and two seconds later got this back: DO NOT READ ANYTHING ON THAT PHONE!!!!! Clearly she was trying to hide something, so I immediately opened the phone and started reading the texts - especially between this girl and my daughter. With all the abbreviations, I could hardly understand what they were talking about. But based on my daughter's response, I'm worried. Should I be? And was I wrong to read those texts?

I've been dating a woman with a little girl for over a year now. She split with her ex right after she accidentally became pregnant. The baby was only 6-7 months old when we began dating. The two of them live with me in my house, and marriage has been discussed in depth.

Forbes released their first-ever list of the 185 richest families in America. I couldn't help but wonder who the 186th family was and how they took the news about not making the cut.

My grandmother was a master gardener. She grew dahlias and chrysanthemums, sweet peas and hydrangeas, tomatoes and corn, green beans and squash, sustenance for body and soul.

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