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The last couple of years have been a challenge, to say the least, and it looks like life will stay that way for a while. Rather than wallow in self-pity, which is very easy to do under our current circumstances, I am putting in a little extra energy to keep things in my orbit balanced.

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Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, a common misconception is that kids aren't affected much by COVID-19, and if they were to get sick, their symptoms would be mild. However, the pandemic is affecting children in many ways, physically and mentally.

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The next time we have a family game night I'm going to phone in sick. They're simply too exhausting. Everyone wants to play me. Grandkids jump up and down and yell, "I want to play Grandma! I'm next to play Grandma!"

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The world was abuzz in late December of 2019 and early January 2020 with the news of human-to-human spread of COVID-19. It would not be named COVID-19 until Feb. 11, 2020, by the World Health Organization.

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DEAR MAYO CLINIC: With COVID-19 continuing to be a concern, should I stock up on at-home COVID-19 tests so I don't have to wait in long lines to get tested elsewhere? What kind of tests are sold over the counter, and what should I know before purchasing them?

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If you need to test for COVID-19, Mayo Clinic health experts remind you not to go to the emergency department for testing. Emergency departments are for patients with life-threatening health care needs.

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Q: My 3-year-old is fearful of trying anything new, including things other kids his age love to do such as swinging on a swing, sliding down a slide and splashing in a pool. I feel like I should begin talking to him about what to do in case of a fire in our house and "stranger danger,” but h…

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DEAR JOAN — Seven years ago, I lost both of my cats within weeks of each other. I took it very hard. They had been my constant companions for a number of years, and I just didn't think I could open my heart again.

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My mother-in-law is going home to Europe after an extended stay, and I am going to really miss her. Since we’ve been living in COVID-world, life has been much less social, and having this very nice person around — even when we don’t speak the same language — just made life more pleasant.

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SANTA MONICA -- Nearly 30 years after purchasing a modest two-bedroom, one-bathroom house in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Santa Monica, California, Michael Solomon and Naomi Lieberman turned their attention to their backyard, where they hoped to add a guesthouse that would accommodate the…

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DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I have two children, ages 12 and 15. They are both good students, participate in athletics and enjoy spending time with friends. While both kids are back to in-person school after the COVID-19 pandemic, my oldest child seems to have less interest in activities. How do I kno…