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Dear Abby

Cousin’s tag-along kids push list limits

Dear Abby,

I am being married later this year, and I’m planning my guest list. My cousin, “Emily,” has five young children who I’m making an exception to invite. She lives across the country, so she’s starting to book her plane reservations.

Emily just announced that she’s being remarried, and her fiance has three children he shares joint custody of. Am I obligated to invite three children I have never met? This is causing a lot of grief between me and my fiance, because Emily assumes that they are all welcome. Please advise.

– D.C. in New York City

Dear D.C.,

Call Cousin Emily. Explain that your guest list is limited and that her five children – to whom you are related – are the exceptions. No other children have been invited to the wedding, and you would prefer to get to know her fiance’s children under less stressful circumstances.

Emily’s wrong to assume she can include anyone whose name wasn’t on her wedding invitation. The children can stay with their mother or grandparents during the time their father will be away.

Dear Abby,

My husband prefers leftovers to sandwiches for his work lunch. He generally takes them in reusable plastic bowls that claim to be dishwasher and microwave safe.

After a short time, these bowls become terribly stained. Not only are they unsightly, but sometimes they harbor odors. Even though they have been thoroughly washed, they seem unclean. We have noticed this happens more often with tomato-based food like spaghetti or barbecue.

I have tried soaking the bowls overnight in dishwashing detergent and even using a small amount of bleach, but the stains remain. Is there a way to remove the stains and odors, or must I continue to buy new bowls and throw the stained ones out?

– Bowled Over
in Alabama

Dear Bowled Over,

According to “Haley’s Hints,” by Graham and Rosemary Haley (New American Library), if you soak the bowls and lids in cold water for 5 minutes or more before putting the leftovers into them, you can prevent the staining from happening. And the odors can be removed by placing crumpled newspaper inside them and putting the tops on before storing them. (This is also an effective way to deodorize shoes.)

Dear Abby,

My daughter just got remarried to a man who has a 10-year-old son. I don’t know the boy at all. What is the appropriate name he should call me? My daughter already has two boys from her first marriage and they, of course, call me Grandma. I don’t feel comfortable having her new stepson call me Grandma. Any suggestions?

– Nameless in New York

Dear Nameless,

Is your heart really so closed that you would tell that boy he isn’t welcome in it? I urge you to be more accepting of this child, or you may get a name that isn’t fit for a family newspaper – and not only will the boy be using it, but also his father.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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