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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Dear Annie 11/23

Dear Annie: We all know plastics are polluting our oceans. I don’t have numbers, but the proportion of balloons amid us is frightening. In my family, we released balloons to send love to a child lost too young. Although we did it before plastic statistics were the norm, it still makes me cringe. Please ask your readers to celebrate a life or occasion with natural resources. Maybe your readers can even write to you with some suggestions. – No More Balloons

Dear Balloons: Thank you for your letter. While balloons are celebratory, you are correct that they can pose a risk to wildlife and the environment. The most responsible thing to do is to find a natural resource for celebrations instead, such as flowers, candles or even planting a tree. If you do use balloons, make sure they are deflated and cut up and put into the trash so they don’t end up in oceans or waterways or consumed by wildlife. Like you, I’m curious if readers have additional suggestions or comments.

Dear Annie: I am a 23-year-old single mom of three children. I just had a newborn son last month, and my daughters are in preschool and kindergarten. I live with my mom, my 18-year-old sister and my 15-year-old brother. I do everything for my kids.

Is it wrong for me to ask for help getting them ready or washing bottles or even watching the baby every now and then?

I have mental health problems, and my whole family knows this, yet I get up every two hours with the baby and still have to get up at 5 a.m. to get everyone ready for school.

The purpose of my moving in with my mom was to help me out because my husband died. Annie, am I being entitled, or is it OK to ask for help? – Young Mommy

Dear Mommy: No, you are not being entitled, and YES, you should ask for help. You have trauma from losing your husband and have three children younger than 5. Of course you need help. In fact, if your mom and siblings won’t help you out, they are being entitled. “It takes a village to raise a child” is an African proverb that means it takes a community effort for children to grow up in a safe and healthy environment, and that definitely applies here.

You also mentioned that you have mental health problems. Ask for more help – from your mom and siblings but also from your church or community. You could also seek support through government programs including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Best of luck to you and your family.

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