Renee Moilanen

Renee Moilanen

Recent articles

  • Recreational golf

    A 7-year-old discovers golf — and a link to a grandpa he’s never known

    When I was in kindergarten, my dad brought home a set of golf clubs no longer than this open newspaper to indoctrinate me into his beloved sport.The clubs were, in a sense, a graduation. I was already spending my weekends tagging along at the golf course, fetching wayward balls, chasing ducks off the green, illegally driving the golf cart from one hole to the next. But I was an observer, only watching while my father set up, readjusted, set up, readjusted, set up, readjusted,...

  • Parenting

    Death of a dime-store guppy doesn’t quite rise to teachable moment

    The call came when I was at work.My husband said, “Grant needs to talk to you,” and put my 7-year-old boy on the line. I’m sorry to tell you this, my son said, but the yellow fish is dead.Thank goodness, I thought. For days now, the yellow guppy had been languishing in his tank, belly up near the gravel, his gills heaving.On five different occasions, I’d told my son, “Sorry, buddy, this is it, he’s really gone now.” But...

  • Parenting

    Lost: One plain gold wedding band that can’t be replaced

    On my left ring finger is the pale impression of where my wedding band used to sit.It’s been weeks since I lost it, but I can still see the indentation where gold pressed into flesh every day for more than a dozen years, never leaving my finger except for rare moments. When mixing up a meatloaf, for example. Or working out with weights.And that’s how I lost the ring. I took it off before the workout, slipped it into the pocket of my gym bag and locked everything...

  • Parenting

    Out of the wilderness and back to creature comforts — but with guilt

    When you’re living in the wilderness, you begin to appreciate the most basic resources. Water. Electricity. Refrigeration.All of which were in scarce supply when my family recently ditched civilization for a three-week RV trip, measuring everything gallon by gallon, minute by minute, whatever we could store in our 100-square-foot camper van.Our showers consisted of a douse with a hand-held nozzle — splash ourselves with water, turn it off, soap up, then quickly...

  • Extended family

    How to keep that family connection from 3,000 miles away

    I rarely get homesick, not for Florida’s hot summers, sticky rainstorms or cockroaches, not for the terror of driving on Miami’s lawless streets.For a long while, I didn’t even miss my family, which all stayed behind while my husband and I made the move to California. Despite the lure of Florida real estate prices and $4 glasses of wine, we never entertained moving back.But that all changed last year when I found out that one of my cousins was having a...

  • Parenting

    3 weeks in the wilderness with a broken-down RV? Wish me luck

    Clearly, my husband hates me.Only that can explain the beat-up RV sitting in my driveway, a constant reminder of the three-week camping trip on which we are about to embark.When he told me he was driving down to San Diego to buy it, I kept my mouth shut, not wanting to squash the dreams of a man who still believes that one day we’ll travel the world aimlessly, with only backpacks and passports in hand, and, oh, I suppose, our two young children, who will eat only chicken...

  • Parenting

    Boys will be boys, which means broken bones, bruises and gashes

    I’ve managed to make it 40 years without a broken bone or a single stitch. My scars are limited to the remnants of suspicious moles removed by the dermatologist. And I can’t recall an injury that warranted more than a Band-Aid or swab of Neosporin.My boys, on the other hand, are latticed with scars, their skins patchworks of crusty scabs and inexplicable bruises. At the ages of 2 and 7, they’ve already sustained more injuries than I’ve had in my entire...

  • Parenting

    How chess helped a first-grader learn patience and strategy

    Every Tuesday, the lunch tables at my son’s school are packed with kids, their shoulders hunched over game boards, deep in thought. There are no video monitors. Not an electronic cable to be found. Instead, the kids are engrossed in — of all things — chess.I was skeptical when my son first asked if he could participate in the after-school classes, which are offered by an organization called Academic Chess. The kid has zero strategy during a game of Go Fish. How...