Category Archives: Family

Warning: Babysitters Come with Some Teen Angst

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Photo: by Meggan DeJesus

Babysitters are to a marriage as elephants are to a circus: both would be pretty lame without them. (And, yes, you might have guessed analogies were not my strength on the SAT.) Shortly after our son was born—very shortly—we recognized our need for a regular sitter. Asking friends was no use, as most mothers only […]

Co-operative living as a family

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Photo: notto86/Flickr When my husband and I decided to move to Madison, Wisconsin, several years ago, I was pregnant with our first child and planned to quit my job to care for our new baby full-time. When I started envisioning my new life, despite having a special new person, it sounded isolating. How could I […]

An Open Letter to My Sons

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Photo: gardnose/stock.xchng To my sons (and young people everywhere who want to change the world): There is no "right" way. Especially right now. I can see it in your eyes: a fire, really a spark right now, burning, waiting for some oxygen to really fuel it. You feel stifled, restrained by the system and structures […]

Driving Donuts

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Photo: Peter Suneson “Mommy, can I drive?” I look up in surprise. Earnest, expectant blue eyes reflect in my rearview mirror. “Uh, no,” I say slowly. I’m about to laugh at the suggestion until I realize his seriousness. How did I produce a child who finds such joy in cars while for me the whole […]

A Squirrelley Tale

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Photo: David Hart Sometimes life’s lessons are learned in the strangest ways. Perhaps it’s necessary. We might not recognize them if they came to us by more conventional means or they might not have the same significance. Lectures come to mind. Blah, blah, blah! An endless stream of words resounding in a tone that neither speaks of their significance nor […]

Old Gorillas Never Die

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Assigned to clean the storeroom during one of my wife’s semiannual organization rampages, I sift through the jumbled piles of stuff with the determined patience of a paleontologist. Broken toys, tattered magazines, dog-eared paperbacks, old stereo speakers. Wow. I’d forgotten I still own three eight-track players. Working my way to a stack of suitcases in […]

Oregon Fail

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I should know better. The man has four mounted elk heads in his garage. He casts his own bullets. He has been known to disappear for weeks at a time and return looking like Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall—at the end of the movie, where he’s indistinguishable from the bear he’s wrestling. But […]

This Is Not Your Father’s Pinewood Derby

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Photo: Loretta Hostettler January 1966. Dad and I sat at the kitchen table for an entire weekend to make my first Pinewood Derby car. We took turns whittling on a huge pine block with my new Cub Scout pocketknife, then sanded, primed, masked, painted, and lacquered until we had a glossy piece of craftsmanship that […]

Of Mice And Kids

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Photo: Oleg Kozlov For months, my kids begged me for a pair of pet mice. In fact, the word "beg" doesn’t do justice to the extremes my girls’ went to in order to convince me to invite mice into our house. They swore they would take care of their new pet. They wrote and bound […]