To All the Animals Who Adventured with Us

We were in the parking lot of the Logan Pass visitor center in Glacier National Park on Going to the Sun Road, the most beautiful scenic drive in America according to everyone who ranks these things. It was 6:30am, and we weren’t the only visitors there. And I don’t just mean the 30 or so other humans who had woken up at 5am or some God-awful dark and peaceful hour to drive and secure a parking…

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Green: Stories from a Life Lived without Me

Driving down the lane They will feel the pain Putting up a shot My game is on fire, hot I chant the above—on a whim, mind you…improv style—and when I am done and thoroughly impressed with myself, Wally Ben rolls his eyes. “Good mom,” the sixth grade boy says. “Very good…,” he trails off as he clears his cereal bowl and heads downstairs to pack up. He is not as impressed as I am but very nicely…

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Everything’s Coming Up Roses and Thorns

I was chitter chattering with my kids before school and reacted to something my son Wally said. Vivvi, my nine year old, proceeded to roast me in the most elegant fashion. The girl doesn’t need wit or poetry to take me down to a humble level—just the tools in her toolbox she has been perfecting since birth: expression and imitation. Photo by Jennifer Heim Photography At first when she started…

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Come With Me on a Little Walk in Bryce Canyon

Our trip had been fun, but started with a few disappointments. Our flight the first day was delayed, which meant we landed in Vegas at 2AM—excellent for a bachelorette party, but not so great with an 11 and 9 year old. Our planned time at the pool the next morning was delayed a few hours because another family who braved Sin City with children had let said children leave a deposit in the…

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Watching the Wolves

I am sitting upstairs, looking out the window, and in the distance I can see WallyBen playing catch with his friend. Every time they catch the ball, I feel myself closer and closer to tears. I should back up. Over the course of the last year, Husband Wally and I spent a lot of time discussing one question: If you could fast forward right now to the end of COVID times, would you? His answer was…

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A Sledding Adventure to Remember

When we were in elementary school, my parents introduced my brother, sister and me to what would become one of my forever favorite movies—Princess Bride. I love it, and why wouldn’t you? It has everything a good story has to offer. From the book, “Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True Love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest Ladies. Snakes. Spiders... Pain. Death.…

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A Very Merry Ott Lip Sync 2020

We've dubsmashed our way through Christmas yet again, for the 6th or 7th time—depending on if you count the initial full song lip sync, where we had baby backup vocals and let toddler WallyV play with a razor. It's getting to the point where the kids have become the creative directors. They suggest clips, they pick which ones they want to be in, and they come up with art direction that we all can…

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That Time I Became a Playwright…

In August, the theater my daughter is in made the tough decision to go fully virtual for the rest of the year. While we understood, we were hugely bummed. She’s been in their holiday show the past two years, and it has become a part of our lives already. We knew a virtual show was possible—Vivvi participated in one over the summer where she got a monologue about a girl in quarantine who decides…

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The Lion of Palms: That Time We Made a Life-Sized Lion out of Sand

It was hot at the beach that week. Hot and windy. And we were enjoying every moment of it—lugging a wagonload of stuff to the perfect spot we’d staked out early in the morning, digging holes that we hoped would hold the heavy umbrellas in place for some respite from the heat, and slathering on gobs of sandy sunscreen over our burns from the previous days. It was just like any other summer…

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Dear Enemies, Game for Sale

Dear Enemies, Game for sale. Scratch that. Game for free!!!!! Item: The board game Hedbanz Sidenote: You can remember the "cute" spelling of the game's name because it is exactly how you would spell it if I told you a headband was a torture device. Description: Wear a card on your forehead. Ask Yes or No questions and cry until you guess what the card says. Notes: • This game is really fun! Your…

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