Family Travel Helped Our Kids Make Their Own Memories, Not Simply Step Into Ours


We lived in Germany as a young expat couple and a decade later traveled back to show our daughter and her seven-year-old brother our favorite haunts. I thought it promised to be a sweet walk down memory-lane, where our kids would enjoy stepping squarely into the footprints my husband and I had left years ago.

Instead, they insisted on pulling us in new directions, almost as if they, first-timers in Germany, were the tour-guides. A huge dancing mess of little prints resulted, sprinkled wildly around our larger ones. I should have known the kids would insist on making their own footprints, creating original memories driven by them.

They transformed our time in Germany into a nonstop quest to conquer towers.

Any signage with Schloss (castle), Feste (stronghold), or Burg (fortress) sent our car careening in that direction as if driven by the giggling youth in the backseat. Without exception, we would climb to the upmost height of the ruin, up the cramped, damp, spiral stairs to the lookout tower.

These ruins–unlike American historic sites—lacked the warning signs, the guardrails, the attendants and the guides. There were no disclaimers posted, no emergency phones available if help were needed, no brochure map to navigate the castle ruin’s maze. Kids sprinting from dungeon to teetering tower were solely under the protection of their parents.

Read in full at Houston Family Magazine


From Sampaguita to Bleeding Heart: A Story of Resurrection

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The earth was cracked and troubled in Washington, D.C. If only you’d been listening, you would have decoded the garbled whisperings of Auntie Kay’s rapid decline, a sampaguita wilting, just like your bleeding hearts in summer, hot as morning mouth. Instead, you obsessed over perennials, especially your bleeding hearts. And, you stupidly pinned your success on them. Now their decline signaled a mocking failure.

Formerly a burned out parking lot, your skinny 15×45 patch of manufactured grass served as an urban backyard. Belying appearances, this defiled earth hid scars of the past that now threatened to slice up your hands. Your gardening gloves mostly shielded you from the harmful objects—glass, rusty metal, bullet casings, and ground-up concrete. Undaunted, you imagined Eden could be realized in one growing season under your coaxing, a remarkable, almost impossible, feat for a veteran gardener. Unluckily, you were an amateur. Unluckily, there was a drought that year. Unluckily, it was Auntie Kay’s final summer.

On the surface it was the bleeding hearts that filled you with a pitiful, throat-catching anxiety. Running parallel, deeper, viciously circling in your gut, was the once unflappable Auntie Kay now wasting away in Chicago. Be honest. Pull back the curtain: that was the throat-catching anxiety.

Read in full at Santa Fe Writers Project:

How our Friday night pizza night helps us connect with our growing kids

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Published by The Washington Post, On Parenting:

“Oh, Friday. We’re growing old together, you and I. From each joyful weekly awareness — It’s Friday! — that erupts around our home to the sleepiness that ends the evening, you’ve been there like an old friend. Long ago, you watched as the little kids came along, encouraging us as new parents to establish a family tradition to end the week. We wanted something that invited the kids’ participation, and so it was that you became synonymous with homemade-pizza-and-movie night.”

Read in full on The Washington Post:

“Resurrection” on

“Annuals were too fake for your taste. They had an artificial quality-a burst of flamboyance and then gone forever. Their blossoms were a little too scripted. But their alternative-the perennial-tested all of what was supposed to be substantive and eternal.