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14 Romantic Time-Outs for Parents

Here are fourteen spontaneous time-outs, specially designed to help you pay the small attentions that are so integral to lasting intimacy.

Day One:
Spend 15 minutes kissing. Many married couples report that the simple act of kissing is the first part of intimacy to disappear. Today, recapture the power of the smooch.

Day Two:
Today, declare a personal moratorium on criticism. Pay attention to the number of negative thoughts you have about the actions of your spouse. How critical are you? How does being critical make you feel? Even when we don't give voice to our criticism, it drains our energy and keeps us focused on negative thoughts.

Day Three:
Call, email, or write your mother-in-law (or send a simple bouquet of flowers). Let her know how grateful you are for her child.

Day Four:
Spoon.

Day Five:
Reflect on your first date with your mate, writing down as many details as you can remember. Now make plans to recreate it.

Day Six:
Spend tonight in your guest room. Pretend that you and your spouse are on a romantic vacation in a distant port.

Day Seven:
What's your spouse's favorite cookie? Bake a batch.

Day Eight:
Tape-record a love message--sexy or sentimental--on a cassette tape. Put it in your spouse's car with a Post-it note that says "Play Me."

Day Nine:
Declare today a Forgiveness Day. Are you holding a grudge, however deep, about something your mate has done or said? Get to the bottom of it today. Then work on letting it go.

Day Ten:
Assess your listening skills with your spouse. Just for today, slow down and try not to interrupt.

Day Eleven:
Write a note and stash it where you know your spouse will find it some time throughout the day. This can be as simple as a lipstick kiss on a folded napkin or as elaborate as an original poem. (For a special touch, fold a Hershey's kiss inside.)

Day Twelve:
Leave a sexy voice message on your mate's voicemail.

Day Thirteen:
List all the reasons you love your mate. For 15 minutes, just let your pen move. Don't stop to think too hard about the task. Just write. Then present your list.

Day Fourteen:
Ask the kids to write down a few of the things they love about your parenting partner. Encourage them to be as specific as possible. Write them down on slips of paper, put them in an envelope and place it on your spouse's dashboard for a heartwarming surprise.

Now spend some time creating your own 15-minute romantic gifts for one another.

Susie Cortright is the founder of momscape.com and Momscape's Scrapbooking Playground - http://www.momscape.com/scrapbooking- devoted to helping visitors record and preserve their cherished memories. Susie also trains and supports new scrapbooking instructors with a new and rapidly-growing direct sales scrapbooking company. Find out how to join her team here: http://www.momscape.com/scrapbooking/busine ss.htm and get a steady stream of new ideas with her scrapbooking club: http://www.momscape.com/scrapbooking/scrap bookclub

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A 7-month-old female giraffe at an Indiana zoo briefly escaped her enclosure on Monday.
The smell was overwhelming as Madagascar police and wildlife officials pulled up to a two-story home in Toliara.
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