Where else can you close down the road, bring out all the grills, have a cool drink and let the kids play in the street without worry? And when you need a bathroom, you've got your own right up the driveway. No port-a-potties for you!

Where else can you close down the road, bring out all the grills, have a cool drink and let the kids play in the street without worry? And when you need a bathroom, you've got your own right up the driveway. No port-a-potties for you!

After being cooped up in cooler weather, it's time to get outdoors and get to know your neighbors. Ditch your stress for a lazy day filled with watermelon, laughter and soaking up the warm summer rays.

Yes, block parties are a summertime staple and this month we have a story about how to make yours the best one in the neighborhood. We've got budget-friendly food ideas, fun ways for kids to play and great games for adults and children to enjoy.

Speaking of parties, attending a child's birthday party always makes me want to be young again.

Don't you wish we could act like kids as adults? Screaming with delight over each present while the guests yell, "That's from me! That's from me!" Ripping open the gift to reveal what's inside right away so we can start playing with it immediately! And the birthday cake - the best part.

As moms and dads, we have the worry of planning Junior's perfect party. But don't fear, parents, our Birthday Party Guide is here to save the day. Find the best place to have your princess's shindig, know the right people to hire for kiddie entertainment, and shop the best stores for sensational supplies. This is a section for you to keep all year long - heck, pass it on to your friends, too.

To celebrate the Fourth, talk to your kids about civic responsibility and community involvement. You'll get some pointers in our article that explains what it means to be a good citizen.

If your little one has a penchant for pacifiers, check out ways to break the habit. Plus learn about kids' vitamin supplements - are they worth the expense?

Last, but certainly not the least of today's worries, losing a job. What should you do after hearing the dreaded words, "We need to let you go"? We offer seven steps to success in our article that touches on topics such as filing for unemployment, budgeting and non-traditional ways to network. It gives back the control you need to succeed.

Phfew! There's a lot going on in this July issue of Columbus Parent Magazine. We hope you enjoy it. And if you do, send me a note. I'd love to hear from you. Better yet, send birthday cake.