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Girls' Night Logged On

None of Heal's sisters -- from Donna, the eldest at 44, to Sharon, the baby at 35 -- would even dare call herself a "gamer." They play, that's it, end of discussion. Kind of like the way they played with dolls on the back yard of their childhood home on Sycamore Street, just outside Chicago. They're regulars in what they call the "club," shorthand for ClubPogo.com, the gaming site that LHJ.com and BHG.com are consciously trying to catch up with. The $29.95-per-year subscription site has 800,000 members, more than 75 percent of them women. It's the sibling of Pogo.com, the "stickiest" site on the Internet -- the average Pogo.com user spent 621 minutes on that site in March, according to the Reston-based marketing research company ComScore. Pogo.com is free, but ClubPogo.com has more games.

Logging on to the "club" has been a way for the Ewing sisters to stay in contact on a regular basis.

Ditto, on the Ladies Home Journal site: Deceptively simple and simply addictive. (Ladies Home Journal Online)

They all work. They all have kids. They're all in different cities. Donna Marto, a mother of three, lives in San Diego; Susan Vargas, also a mother of three, lives in Palatine, Ill.; Sharon McCarthy, mom to 3-year-old Logan, lives in Racine, Wis. Karen Heal, the 36-year-old mother of two, signs on from Cortez, Colo.

Karen says they all usually log on to ClubPogo.com on Sunday afternoons, spending "hours and hours" chatting online while playing games, either by themselves or against each other. The sisters are card game fanatics. Donna is usually playing canasta. Karen is usually playing Jungle Gin. Sharon is usually playing some type of solitaire. On some weeknights, Susan in Palatine catches up with Sharon in Racine by playing canasta. On some mornings, Donna in San Diego plays a bit of Jungle Gin with Karen in Cortez. It's tough balancing the kids and the work and the sister time.

So it's a way for the women to keep track of one another.

"Karen gets home at about 8:30 p.m., turns on the computer, log on to ClubPogo. I'd already be there, we'd say a quick hello, she'd send me a message about her kids, I'd send her a message about Logan," says Sharon , who's studying criminal justice and works as a delivery driver.

They'd argue.

"She dates too much," Karen says of Sharon. "I'd message her while we're playing, asking her, what did you do last night? Then I'd think, forget it, I don't want to hear what you did last night."

Last night, like most nights, they were on ClubPogo.com.

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