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by Abigail Van Buren

Stepchildren Saw Only Rain on Stepmom's Sunny Vacation

DEAR ABBY: This summer my husband's four children by a previous marriage spent their vacation with us. They are 16, 15, 13 and 11. I have a 13-year-old daughter.

Abby, I spent months planning their holiday so that everything would go well. I did all the shopping, cooking, cleaning and laundry for them during their visit. I bought tickets for all of us to do interesting things while they were here. We had just put in a new pool, and they could swim every day if they wanted to. We hosted two picnics so they could see everyone in the family. There wasn't a day that they didn't have something to do, and they seemed to have a good time. There were a few arguments between the kids, but nothing major.

After they left, my husband called to make sure they had made it home OK. He was told his children had a terrible time; they had nothing positive to say about their vacation. They totally trashed me and my daughter. My husband knew they were lying, but he still took their side.

I am crushed. I worked hard to give his kids a great vacation. I'm so angry with my husband I'm seeing red. What should I do? -- FURIOUS WIFE AND STEPMOTHER

DEAR FURIOUS: First, calm down; then forgive your husband. He's not the villain.

Accept the fact that the chidlren told their mother what they thought she wanted to hear. They lied because they were afraid she'd feel hurt to hear they enjoyed themselves while they were with their father and you. Forgive them; they are caught in the middle and are attempting to protect their mother.

DEAR ABBY: I am now 54 years old and have been a widow for almost 10 years. There's a gentleman in our small town of 7,000 who lost his wife four years ago. He's very eligible, and to my knowledge, has never dated since her death.

I called him about four months ago to ask if he'd be interested in going to dinner with me sometime. He owns a business, and he said he was very busy, but he had thought about calling me.

About a month ago, he had a new grandson, so just to make contact, I sent a congratulatory card, adding if he ever needed any company, I'd enjoy going to a movie with him sometime. I gave him both my home and work numbers. I have still not heard from him.

Abby, I think about him every day. He's a good, hard-working man and seems like a good catch. It took me 10 years to really become interested in dating again, and I'm disappointed that I haven't heard from him.

Should I make any further attempts to let him know I'm interested, or just wait it out? -- POISED TO POUNCE

DEAR POISED: He has your number(s); now it's up to him to pick up the phone and take you up on your offer. You've done as much as you can without boldly chasing him. The good news is that you now know you're ready to consider another man in your life. If he doesn't respond, keep looking. Good luck.

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY: Do more than exist; live. Do more than touch; feel. Do more than look; observe. Do more than read; absorb. Do more than hear; listen. Do more than listen; understand. Do more than think; ponder. Do more than talk; say something. (John H. Rhoades)

Abby shares more of her favorite, easy-to-prepare recipes. To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, More Favorite Recipes, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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