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Family Connect

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Who hasn't heard parents complain that the frantic pace of society allows scarce precious time for family bonding?

In her book to be released Monday, D.C. author Rebecca Hagelin, a mother of three (among a myriad of other hats she wears around town), has discovered a way to slow down life - for parents and children - to enjoy genuine family time.

It's just one of “30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family,” the title of Mrs. Hagelin's guidebook, which offers 30 practical steps to “restore peace in your home and reconnect with your children” during a time when popular culture has everybody's heads (and bodies) spinning in different directions and arenas - many of them not so healthy.

The author explains how to fight modern culture and not your child, and even tells readers why it's important to write a letter to your child - something more tangible, obviously, than the flurry of e-mails and text messages families exchange daily.

“My heart's desire was to do more than just write another helpful parenting book; I wanted to challenge parents to embrace a whole new way of thinking about how they spend their time, energy and talents,” says Mrs. Hagelin, the senior communications fellow at the Heritage Foundation, who also wrote “Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family in a Culture That's Gone Stark Raving Mad.”

“If we, as a nation, poured as much time and effort into building our families as we do into building our careers, we could end up solving most of the problems we now face as a society and as individuals. There's an old saying, 'As the family goes, so goes the nation.' If that's true - and I believe it is - then shouldn't we be very deliberate about teaching our kids specific values?” she says.

And given the current atmosphere, not to mention the depressed economy, the author tells this columnist: “It's more important than ever for us to concentrate on building the next generation of adults who understand the importance of personal responsibility and the critical role that the family unit plays in the stability of our nation. And the only real way to do that is to start by strengthening our own families.”

SUITE '007'

Thick bullet-resistant glass protects the sweeping views from the living space, shielding also the luxurious master and guest bedrooms, the plush dining room and even the windows of the exercise room with its elliptical trainers overlooking the hustle and bustle of Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest.

No, we have not stepped inside the White House. Welcome to 21st-century Washington.

Or more precisely what Liliana Baldassari, director of public relations at the famous Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown, suspects is the only hotel suite of its kind in the nation.

She won't tell us which VIPs (hotel policy protects the privacy of its guests) have reserved the lavish Royal Suite since it was unveiled during Barack Obama's Jan .20 inauguration. But in between high-end (the suite runs $12,500 per night) bookings, Ms. Baldassari on Friday allowed Inside the Beltway a tour of the one-of-a-kind fortress, starting in the sparkling stone mosaic foyer with its shimmering crystal chandelier and rich woodwork with inlays of mother of pearl.

The 5,287-square-foot living space - including three bedrooms, sitting areas, stocked kitchen, dining room for 10, library, private study with computer and a wooden-floored 1,000 square-foot landscaped terrace with fire pit - is surrounded by silk velvet draperies. The floors are limestone, enhanced with designed wool-and-silk-blend rugs that actually feel comfortable enough to sleep on.

There's a glass-enclosed fireplace, media center, 60-inch LCD (among other state-of-the-art TV sets) and white marble bathrooms - the largest one featuring a sculptural 90-gallon bathtub (a lighted crystal masterpiece is draped directly overhead) and oversized glass “rain” shower.

VIP guests, either foreign heads-of-state or Hollywood types, also receive personalized butler service, a luxury car and driver, and practically every other imaginable amenity a visitor to Washington could ask for. The Four Seasons even takes care of the unpacking and packing.

And yes, there's a private entrance, so that the guests can come and go unnoticed by the rest of us.


Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, wants to assure everybody that he's not the greedy type:

”Madam speaker, on Wednesday, April 1, 2009, during consideration of the End GREED Act, my vote was recorded as 'no' on final passage of the bill. I intended to vote 'aye.' ”

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