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Why I Don’t Want Perfect Daughters

A while back, I had a conversation with a beautiful 13-year-old girl in which the name of a popular teenager came up. With starry eyes and her face suddenly aglow, this 13-year-old exclaimed:

“She’s so pretty! She’s so perfect! I want to be her!!!”

I understood her remark, because I once thought this same way. I once considered perfection the holy grail, the ultimate goal a girl should strive for.

But due to my history in chasing perfectionism,

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Dear Girls: Your Body is BEAUTIFUL

There’s a certain reality to being female that no one can deny.

And that reality is, the better you look, the more compliments and attention you receive.

It took me a long to realize how powerfully motivating this is for teen girls in particular, approaching their physical peak. When adults talk about teen girls today, the conversation often revolves around how vain and beauty-obsessed this generation of selfie-takers has become. And while that’s generally true,

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What I Appreciate Most from Parents Raising Boys

A while back, I was at dinner with my friend Jacki when she shared a story about one of her three sons.

Their family was at the high school for a game, and without consulting his parents, their sixth grade son walked from the school to the neighborhood grocery store with three girls. Because it was dark outside, his parents weren’t happy about it.

One thing Jacki’s learned about raising boys, however,

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Why Women Need Their Girlfriends

Years ago, I was at the beach with my family when I noticed a group of ladies nearby who appeared to be in their fifties.

With a quick glance, I knew they were on a girls’ weekend. All the signs were there – coolers & cocktails, beach bags with romance novels, straw hats, umbrellas in the sand – but most telling of all was their laughter. Lots of lots of laughter, the kind that draws attention and curiosity from anyone in earshot.

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When Your Kids are Mean to Each Other

My family and I have had a great summer. We’ve been to the beach, stayed up late laughing and being silly, caught up with friends, and enjoyed extra time together that I try to cherish because I know one day, we’ll be going in different directions.

With the extra time together, however, comes the reminder of how extra-comfortable we get around the people we’re with the most.

We let down our guard. 

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How Can I Make Them Want Me?

Recently I spoke with a young girl who shared with me a time that she’d been left out by friends.

It happened at school and started with a club her friends created. The club had its own rules, and when she overheard some girls in her class talking about it, she asked if she could join.

“Sure,” they replied, and with that she was a member.

Later that day, however, she overhead the mastermind behind the club –

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Life with Lola: A Case for the Family Dog

Once upon a time, there were four little girls who begged for a dog.

Their names were Ella, Sophie, Marie Claire, and Camille.

“No,” said their parents, their voices firm and adamant. “Absolutely not.”

The little girls pushed. They whined. They cried and gave their parents a major guilt trip about being the ONLY FAMILY ON EARTH that didn’t have a dog. But the parents didn’t budge. They were united, and they told the girls that maybe,

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10 Truths Moms Should Know

It’s May, and you know what that means.

Time to recognize and celebrate every unsung hero called Mom.

Most mothers don’t give themselves enough credit. They may admit they’re a good mom, but a great mom? I believe many would choke on the word. Women are too hard on themselves, and nowhere is this more apparent than in motherhood.

Following are 10 truths moms should know. I hope they serve as encouragement, hope, and a well-deserved pat on the back.

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Chasing the Good Life

Several years ago, our family had a huge oak tree fall on our home during a storm.

It wasn’t just any home – it was our forever home. We’d moved in 10 days earlier. At last we had the space to spread out and breathe. We’d waited for this a long time.

The destruction was major, forcing us to move out. I know God doesn’t work this way, but at first it felt like punishment,

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Secret’s Out: I Have a Book Coming!!!

There’s a saying in football that I’ve always liked: “When you get into the end zone, act like you’ve been there before.”

This is excellent advice, and when something good happens, I try to keep it in mind.

But sometimes my enthusiasm gets the best of me. Sometimes it swells and takes on a life of its own. While I’d like to act like I’ve been there before, that’s a challenge for a girl who’s a bad actress and tends to wear her emotions on her sleeve.

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10 Ways to Build Better Friendships

Last fall, I attended an insightful Bible study. The message resonated with me long after I left that afternoon.

The Bible Study was for my 5th grade daughter and her classmates. The leader was Donna Greene, who has ministered to girls for 40 years here in Mountain Brook, Alabama.

Donna’s message that day – how to build bridges, not walls – was perfect for 5th grade girls. Using true stories to illustrate,

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What Next? Helping Kids Cope with Rejection

Life is hard. Disappointments happen. Sometimes we lose when we deserve to win. Sometimes we win when we deserve to lose.

As adults, we’ve had practice coping with letdowns. But for children, the pain is fresh and the wounds particularly deep. They’re not prepared for unexpected blows, nor do they understand how a loss might benefit them long-term. One rejection can feel like the new norm, and with every subsequent defeat they may fear they’ll never break the cycle.

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Ashes to Ashes

There’s one day a year that I wear my faith on my forehead. Yes, on Ash Wednesday anyone who crosses my path can see that I’m a Christian.

And while I’ve been wearing the ashen cross since I was a child, it wasn’t until college that I truly grasped the meaning behind it. It took a major disappointment for me to learn a lesson that impacts me still today.

I was eighteen at the time,

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Love & Marriage

When my friend Greta got engaged many years ago, a man she knew from work shared a story I’ll always remember.

In essence, he told her the key to marriage is to love your spouse even when you don’t feel like it. Using his own life to explain, he described a period in which he and his wife hit a wall. They were fighting constantly and very disconnected. Their marriage hung by a thread.

Her birthday was coming up,

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The Parenting Choice You’ll Never Regret

“Just give her extra love, Kari. Just give her extra love.”

The words were so simple, yet exactly what I needed to hear. Once again my father came through with flying colors, offering advice to ease my anxiety.

It came during a time when I was worried about my daughter. It wasn’t anything major, just a situation that had popped up.

And though I knew better, I made the mistake of getting on Google.

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Who Am I to Judge?

“I try not to judge other people’s kids because I never know what mine might do.”

My late grandmother used to say this, and I think it’s as relevant today as it was in her time. None of us have room to judge, none of us are supposed to judge, yet we do it anyway. Within parenting circles, the tendency is to judge both other parents and their kids.

In many cases, it starts innocently enough.

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Raising a Kind Daughter

When my daughter Ella was in fourth grade, she got in the car one day after school and announced her plan to run for student council.

At her school each class has a representative, and I was thrilled she planned to put her name in the hat. Even if she didn’t win, it would be a good experience.

She told me almost every girl in her class was running, as well as one or two boys.

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Identity 911

When I got married, I went from being called Kari Kubiszyn to being called Kari Kampakis. Transitioning from one odd name to another was easy. Figuring out who this new person was, however, launched an identity crisis that I didn’t expect.

I was thrilled to finally live in the same city as Harry, but moving to Huntsville from Birmingham meant leaving my friends, my family, and a job I adored. In Birmingham everything clicked for me, but in Huntsville I couldn’t catch a groove,

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Be Happy. Be the Blessing.

People often think of happiness as a reaction. Something happens and our spirits enjoy a boost. But really happiness is proactive. It’s cherishing what we already have and living life with our eyes open, purposefully seeking moments that fill us with joy.

Most of us don’t lead exciting lives. Exciting events happen, but not on a daily basis.

Moments, however, are daily. They’re also abundant. And with each new moment comes a new opportunity to be happy.

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10 Common Mistakes Parents Today Make (Me Included)

When I became a mom, I got lots of advice on how to love my child. But not until a few years ago did someone actually point out that loving a child means wanting what’s best for them long-term.

When my girls were young, long-term didn’t resonate with me. Back then it was about survival, meeting daily needs and keeping my head above water. There are several years that remain a blur, and only when I see old pictures and videos do memories get triggered.

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A Silver Linings Mindset

Every morning when we wake up, we have a choice. We can choose to be grateful for what’s right in our life or grumpy for what’s wrong.

Nobody is born grateful. We learn gratitude by practicing it. This is good news because it means gratitude is within everyone’s reach. In any and all circumstances it works. Even if we’re skeptical or pessimistic by nature, there is hope. Even if we’ve been beaten down by life, there is hope.

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Daddies Be Good to Your Daughters

I saw an old friend recently and asked about his little girl.

He immediately turned to mush.

The transformation advanced like this: His head tilted. He smiled. His body softened as if he’d been microwaved five seconds. In a final gesture, he rapped on his heart…one, two, three times. He never did speak, however.

That’s because he didn’t have to.

I know it sounds sappy, but the relationship between daddies and daughters turns me into putty,

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The AA Way: 10 Lessons We Can All Learn From

I’m not a member of AA, but through the course of random events, I’ve met some amazing women who are.

They are funny. They are insightful. They are a joy to be around and possibly the most non-judgmental people I’ve ever met. The more time I spend with them, the more I realize what an incredible program AA is. Truth be told, I’m jealous of their connection and what they learn in group therapy because what AA boils down to is a healthy,

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If I Die Young

Nobody likes to think about their mortality, but the untimely deaths in 2012 of two Birmingham moms – both younger than me – really made me consider mine.

I never met Laura Black or Elliot Williams in person, but they inspired me. They were the moms/friends/wives/amazing women everyone knew and loved. For months I followed their stories on Facebook, praying as our mutual friends posted updates and bawling my eyes out at my computer. Whenever I started to complain about my life,

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