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DEAR READERS: Today's Sound Off is about people who don't read to their children or encourage their children to read:

DEAR HELOISE: Study after study has found that parents should read aloud to their children from the time they're born through elementary school. Having taught school for over 22 years, I've noticed that children who were read aloud to at home developed better verbal skills, better writing skills and a larger vocabulary.

Unfortunately, many parents today don't read to their children. I've heard adults say they don't have time to read to their children, but they need to turn off the TV and make time. Your children are the only thing you'll leave behind of any real and lasting importance, so start reading aloud to them, and make them read aloud to you to improve their communication skills.

-- Mary Beth M.,

Amherst, N.H.

DEAR HELOISE: Although it is traditional for a woman to take a husband's name, my fiance and I have come to an agreement on a last name: He never liked his last name, so he wants to take my last name after we are married. His mother keeps telling me that it's not legal, but in fact, a woman taking a husband's last name is nothing more than tradition, and a marriage is legal no matter what surname you use.

-- Ashley N.,

Bloomfield, N.J.

DEAR READER: Ashley, you also can hyphenate your last names, or combine the two surnames into a new last name, but no matter what you do, your marriage's legal status is not in danger if your husband wants to take your last name.

DEAR HELOISE: To avoid rubbery gelatin, especially on the bottom, add one capful of vinegar to the mixture after you boil the water. You won't taste it, and it keeps the gelatin from forming that rubbery substance on the bottom.

-- Karen H., Kinston, N.C.

DEAR HELOISE: I like to serve cocktails before a dinner party, but I limit the "happy hour" to only 45 to 60 minutes before dinner. This way, people can mingle and chat, but not overindulge in alcohol before they eat. A long cocktail hour on an empty stomach usually makes people sleepy, sick or inebriated.

-- Laura W.,

Holyoke, Mass.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

ActiveStyle on 02/19/2018

Print Headline: Helpful Hints

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