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Dear Amy: I'm a girl in 11th grade. In my freshman year, I made friends with "Ruby." Over time I came to understand that I needed to end the friendship because of Ruby's troubling behavior toward others and with me.

Now, two years later, I have a new friend, "Sammie," who is also friends with Ruby. I only hang out with Sammie when Ruby is not present.

On several occasions when I was talking with Sammie, Ruby joined the conversation. I was cordial, but I tried to limit my contact. Now when I see Ruby in the hall at school, she waves enthusiastically and calls my name excitedly.

I don't want any association with this person's bad actions, including occasionally being violent. I don't want to confront Ruby, but she keeps making attempts, suggesting renewing the friendship. How can I gently distance myself without causing conflict?

Amy says: I think that you should continue along the careful course you've set. Be polite, noncommittal and avoidant.

Ruby might have changed somewhat during the time you've been distant, and while you should stay open to that possibility, you should not hang out with someone who makes you uncomfortable.

If Ruby confronts you about your distance, you might say something like, "I'm just hanging back, like usual." You don't need to answer loaded questions.

You might wonder if Sammie is making the right choice regarding a friendship with this challenging person, but that decision should be up to Sammie.

Where's the adventure gone?

Dear Amy: I am in my mid-30s. My husband and I have two children.

I used to be this very adventurous person. I'd describe myself as almost daring and unconventional. Yesterday my husband and I had a lengthy — and I mean lengthy — conversation about granite countertops.

Our kids are 3 and 5 years old. Our world revolves around them, other families with children their ages, our jobs and our house. I find myself wondering what happened to us and pondering how we can fix it.

Amy says: When you're young, adventure has a way of finding you. When you're older, you have to seek it.

My first suggestion is that you might consider the perspective that raising children at this stage is actually loaded with tiny adventures and some big challenges. You and your husband are scaling small mountains every day.

Second, I think that you two should leave your children, and your home environment, for a weekend. Two whole days. While away, you should rest, relax and make a determination to look at your larger life goals. Reach for the sky and write down your list.

You want more adventure: What are some ways you can get that as individuals, as a couple, and as a family? Focus on ways that you can raise your children to be free, brave and bold souls.

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