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Archive for Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Keep Halloween safe by following a few precautions

October 30, 2002

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Dear Readers: Tomorrow is Halloween. While trick-or-treating is usually lots of fun for kids, it can also be dangerous.

Please dress your children in flame-resistant clothing that they won't trip over. If they are going out after dark, make sure they wear bright colors or reflector tape so they are clearly visible. A lot of costumes come with plastic masks that can obscure your child's vision, so consider using make-up instead.

Younger children should have an adult with them at all times. Older children should travel in groups of three or more. Instruct your children NEVER to enter a person's home.

Warn your children not to eat any treats until they get home and you can inspect them. Make sure candy wrappers have not been opened. Slice fruit in pieces.

We want you and your children to have a safe, fun holiday.

Dear Annie: My wife of 20 years has put our family though hell for the past 12 months. "Elaine" is paranoid and unbalanced, and twice she has tried to kill herself. I take my marriage vows seriously in sickness and in health and am determined to stand by her.

Last December, Elaine shocked me when she asked for a divorce, but she did not follow through. I have slowly come to the painful realization that there is nothing more I can do for Elaine. She hates me and blames me for everything wrong in her life. She thinks I stalk her, have plans to kill her and that I abuse her. None of this is true. She has not spoken to me in nine months.

I believe Elaine is talking to our kids and blowing all my faults out of proportion in an attempt to get them on her side. They know their mother is ill, but I cannot stand to see them hurt and lied to. I have decided it might be best if I leave her and take the children with me.

I need someone to tell me I'm doing the right thing, and more importantly, that my kids will be OK. They are wonderful, intelligent children, and this is killing me. I still love Elaine, but her refusal to discuss our problems, even with a mediator, leaves me little choice.

Am I wrong to feel that the situation is hopeless, or can counseling work miracles? Where can I find help? Desperate for Help

Dear Desperate: It is commendable that you have stayed by your wife's side in spite of her illness and the toll it is taking on you. Please don't retreat without giving it one last try. Make an appointment with a family therapist, and take your children with you. Also contact the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill helpline at 1-800-950-6264 (www.NAMI.org) for information and a referral to your local affiliate. There is help out there. You are not alone.

Dear Annie: I belong to a group of ladies that meets twice a week at the senior center. One of the women has terrible body odor, and no one knows how to bring it up without offending her. Can you suggest a polite way to inform her, or is there no gentle way to handle this? Sign me Holding My Breath in Connecticut

Dear Holding: Unfortunately, there is no pleasant method of telling someone she doesn't smell good. One of you should take the lady aside privately and say, "Doris, I'm sure you have no idea that you have a slight body odor. You might need to change your deodorant or soap. I know you would want someone to tell you." She will be embarrassed, but if you treat her normally afterward, she'll get over it.

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