Good Life

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Caring for the Christmas cactus

As the Christmas season rolls around again, I fondly remember the large Christmas cactus that my mother had, and I always enjoyed its beauty especially around Christmas when it was in full bloom. This houseplant has been a favorite since Grandma or Great Grandma’s day. It’s not unusual for a single plant to be passed down from generation to generation because they’re long-lived and rather easy plants to grow. I always wondered how my mother got the Christmas cactus to come into full bloom during the holiday season. To me as a small boy, it was another miracle of Christmas, just like how did Santa get down our chimney when the fire was blazing without getting burned.

Family

Ask Mr. Dad: There's a limit to limits

Dear Mr. Dad: Anytime the topic of discipline comes up, everyone talks about how important it is to set limits. I agree, but it's a lot easier to talk about it than to actually do it, especially when the kids (mine are 4 and 8) push back and challenge everything. How do you suggest we go from talking to doing?

Family

Ex-etiquette: How do I get him to see he favors his kids?

Q: My guy tells me he loves my kids, but I don't see it. He openly favors his own children to the point that this year he's buying his kids way better presents than he's buying mine. My kids won't know it because we don't have his kids for Christmas this year, but it's the principle of the thing. How do I get him to see he favors his kids? What's good ex-etiquette?

Family

Living with Children: Disappointed parents, need not be

Q: Our 18-year-old son made only slightly better than average grades in high school and finished in the top half of his graduating class. He could have done better, but has a history of underachievement which we explain as boredom. He managed to get into a second-tier state college but has decided after one semester (and as one might expect, mediocre grades) that he doesn't want to go back. In fact, he's telling us that he doesn't want to go to college at all. Instead, he wants to become a diesel mechanic. Needless to say, we're very disappointed, but also conflicted. His father is in favor of this new plan, but I'm inclined to tell him that we'll pay for college only and that he is going to have to figure out how to pay for anything else. What are your thoughts on this?

Family

Ana Veciana-Suarez: 'Tis the season to sing yourself happy

For me, nothing feels more festive, more Christmasy than the carols that blare from my car radio. At a time when the holiday has become sickingly commercial, when the reason for the season is about catching a good deal on Amazon, Yuletide songs remain the sincerest expression of good cheer and goodwill.

Family

Chris Erskine: Make it a December to remember

Took a life-expectancy survey on the internet the other day, entered my family history, lifestyle habits, current age, and the website predicted I would live to 83. Which means I have some 23 Christmases left. That's the good news. Or the bad news.

Good Life

Milwaukee: More than just beer here

"Arrived in Milwaukee. Found beer," my social media post said. Because honestly, beer is about the only thing I knew about the city. And make no mistake, beer is big there. You can tour any one of more than a dozen breweries, see the mansion that Pabst built, the ballpark that Miller built. But to say Milwaukee is all about beer is to sell it short.

Good Life

Quebec City in winter: A glorious wonderland

The castle-like chateau dominates the landscape, snow-covered and majestic. The St. Lawrence River undulates under frozen ice caps, back and forth, forward and backward. The charming shops line snowy streets with hints of brick and cobblestone poking through. Quebec City in winter weaves a spectacular spell of sheer magic.

Family

App review: Messenger Kids, Facebook-created app has fun features, collects kids' data

Parents need to know that Messenger Kids is a kids' messaging app created by Facebook targeting kids under 13. After downloading, a parent (or anyone with an existing Facebook account) must log in with their Facebook credentials, and that person can then approve all contacts in the Messenger Kids app. Parents can also add contacts to their kid's account via the grown-up version of Messenger. Within a message, kids can send kid-appropriate gifs, stickers, emojis, and live filters, and they can also access all of the photos and videos on the device. Kids can also have live video chats with their approved contacts. Since kids can't delete messages, parents can monitor what their kids send through the app. Though there are no ads or purchases, the privacy policy states that all content (message content and app usage details) is stored and that information is used to develop new products. Read the app's privacy policy to find out more about the types of information collected and shared.

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