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chalkboardThere was a chalkboard at the top of the stairs from the basement. After we shucked off our work boots, hung up our farm coats and tramped up the stairs to open the door, there it was. Our father used it to post logic problems or puzzles for us to think about and attempt to solve.

At breakfast, at least once a week or more, he queried us on new vocabulary words often from the Reader's Digest "Word Power" section, asking us if we knew what they meant. "Use them," he said, "and they will be yours."

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Read more: The Chalkboard at the Top of the Stairs

Bright Blue Shoes-2"I can spend my back-to-school money however I want?" questioned our soon-to-be in 8th grade son.

"As long as you spend it on school clothes and supplies," I replied. "That's what it's for, but you can choose how to divvy it up. Remember, though, when it's gone, that's all you're getting from us."

"No problem," he assured me confidently, "I know what I want."

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Read more: Bright Blue Shoes and Character Ed

dirty dishes in sinkIt was a sweltering 90°+ in our west facing kitchen. Dinner was finished and a sink piled high with dirty dishes awaited my sister and me. The fan blasted hot air against our sweat-dripping backs and the prospect of slipping our hands into warm soapy water was less than appealing. We pleaded with our mother to allow us to ditch the dishes until dark, in favor of a quick swim or a game of badminton now, outside where it was cooler. However, she insisted the dishes be finished first and we knew it was pointless to argue. We reluctantly turned to the sink and worked our way through the pots, pans and dinnerware, and only then went outside to play.

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Read more: Washing Dishes and School Success

How Children Succeed BookI know from personal experience that being a parent is not an easy job. There were many mornings when, after I had delivered our offspring to the front door of the school where their father was the principal, I marched into his office and exclaimed, "I've had it. I'm hanging up my motherhood badge. I cannot endure the morning madness another day. You will have to take over."

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Read more: Parenting for Success

unhappy couple2You don't get married to solve problems. Sure, solving problems is part of marriage and if you do it as a team you're going to be happier, but this is not the reason you got together in the first place. You most likely got together because you talked like friends, you had fun together and you wanted to be exclusively sexual with each other. The problem with many marriages is that after a while you stop talking like friends (i.e., you only do "problem talk"), you stop having fun together (i.e., you fall into the same old ruts and routines), and your sexual relationship becomes more and more mundane.

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Read more: You Don't Always Need to Talk about It

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