Living

Family

Ask Mr. Dad: Two kids, night and day

Dear Mr. Dad: We have two sons, almost exactly three years apart. The oldest was a dream child in almost every way, but his little brother is pretty much the exact opposite. My husband and I find this surprising, since we tried to do everything with our youngest exactly the same as we did for our oldest. Why are they so different?

Family

Ex-etiquette: Fianc� too friendly with ex-in-laws

Q: I'm having a difficult time accepting the fact that my fiance still "hangs out" at his ex-mother-in-law's house when he picks his daughter up for visitation. I just recently found a video that his ex mother-in-law filmed of my fiance and his daughter playing in her pool together. When I confronted him about it his response was that his daughter didn't want to go out for dinner. She wanted to stay home and go in the pool with him. I feel like I was lied to because I was under the impression they went out to dinner and I was never told otherwise. I also think he's too friendly with his ex. I feel like there needs to be boundaries here. Am I over reacting? Please help! What's good ex-etiquette?

Family

Lori Borgman: On call for potty training

I fielded four calls before I finally found out that my name and number had been posted on a bathroom wall. It's not as bad as it sounds. My contact info, along with my picture, are on a poster on the bathroom wall where one of the grands is potty training.

Family

Living with Children: New teacher could be cure for disruptive behavior

Q: Our son is a rising second-grader at a private school. Last year, his behavior was often disruptive and sometimes even downright defiant - problems his first grade teacher did not have with him. At home, we have no more than typical "boyishness" - nothing approaching serious. Nonetheless, at the school's request we took him to a private counselor they recommended. When that did no good, the school began insisting he had a disorder and wanted him put on medication - something we will not do. Anyway, we want to take preventive steps to head this off before it becomes an issue in the coming school year. Can you give us any advice?

Family

Chris Erskine: Got a teen? Consider a puppy crate

At night, we've started experimenting with keeping our youngest son in a crate. He's 13, and in the early stages of a rough pubescence - is that redundant? Aren't all pubescences rough? Like hurricanes and root canals, aren't they all a little harrowing?

Pets

The last free-ranging library cat in Illinois

Even before you enter the stately limestone library with leaded glass windows and copper-colored trim, you see signs of the local celebrity. Not at eye-level - look lower, and there, hovering in the shadows behind the glass door, are two ice-green eyes, staring up at you with frank curiosity.

Family

6 Apps that will help you keep track of your kid online

As kids become more independent, we want to foster their sense of responsibility and give them room to prove themselves. But it can be difficult to navigate this natural separation, especially when kids are doing who-knows-what on their devices. There are constant questions: Where are they? Who's contacting them? What are they doing online? Since tweens and teens are often tight-lipped about their lives, it can be tricky to get clear answers.

Family

App review: Chameleon Run, super fun and challenging platformer, winning pick for kids

Parents need to know that Chameleon Run is a combination of a platformer, the game show Wipe Out, and the app Color Switch. Players control a little robot-like block figure as it moves along an obstacle course of colored, beam-style platforms, jumping and changing the figure's color to match where it will land. It's not for all kids since the pace is so fast and finishing levels can be really tricky. There are no ads and no in-app purchases, but there's also no parent gate on the More Games tab and kids can use the "face cam" to record themselves playing and presumably share the video, though that feature wasn't working during the review period. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the information collected and shared.

Travel

Into the Wild(woods) of New Jersey

Beach vacations, done right, have a magical way of getting you to eat, drink and do things you'd normally steer clear of on a regular weekday. Take roller coasters. I hadn't been on one in years, ever since a wild ride on the Phantom's Revenge at a Kennywood school picnic left me dizzy for weeks.

Home & Garden

How two dreams became one Seattle dream home

SEATTLE - You work and work, imagine and plan, launch your son into adulthood and then ... It Is Time. Time to build your very own grown-up Dream Home. Pavel Lobanov and Mila Lobanova were there: They had a divine high-up site in View Ridge (which did not earn its name accidentally). They had a highly recommended architect (design principal Rick Mohler of Mohler + Ghillino Architects). And they had a budget for building (though it was tight).

Home & Garden

Ask Angie: Best siding choice for golf course homes

Dear Angie: We live on a golf course and golf balls always hit our house. We need to replace the siding, but it doesn't make sense to do it with the same product that'll get damaged over and over again. Is there a product that won't crack or show damage when hit by a golf ball?

Videos

Trade secrets for growing tomatoes at home

Diane Stuckmeyer's family has a produce business and store between Waterloo and Columbia in Illinois. In this video, she shares tips to help you grow some amazing tomatoes.
Jennifer Hodges The Belleville News-Democrat
Trade secrets for growing tomatoes at home 3:07

Trade secrets for growing tomatoes at home

Pokemon Go player slams car into Baltimore police cruiser 1:19

Pokemon Go player slams car into Baltimore police cruiser

Lightning safety tips 5:23

Lightning safety tips

Make these easy oven roasted tomatoes in oil 0:44

Make these easy oven roasted tomatoes in oil