John

Posted by Ellen

John must have been about eight years old when he came across the special offer in a seed catalog: hey kids, add a penny of your own money to your parents' seed order, and you'll get a super fantastic packet of seeds just for you to plant.

If I remember correctly, we taped the penny to the order form, and I got my seeds and he got his. Both our gardens did pretty well that summer, thanks to the good advice of our neighbor on Fifth Avenue in Tuscaloosa, Mr. Crawford. John's turnip, shown here, must have been exactly the super fantastic return he'd been hoping for on his investment–and yup, he's still a gardener today, thirty years later.

At harvest time, he posed for a Polaroid snapshot in the kitchen with his brothers, Joe and Ted. Joe appears to be checking out a previously shot Polaroid, probably watching the colors emerge magically from the paper. Ted appears to be annoyed. Jealous maybe, of his brother's turnip?

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Snow fell on Alabama the other day, and bitter cold settled in. Same thing happened there back in about 1989, when Forest Lake in Tuscaloosa froze up thick enough to run around and slide on, and our three eldest posed for a picture on the ice.

From the bottom: Ted, John, Joe. Note the complete absence of gloves or mittens, and the general inadequacy of winter apparel. In his hat and jacket, Ted appeared to have a chance of staying warm, but the other two just had to tough it out. There is no evidence in this picture of the socks-on-the-hands and/or plastic-bags-in-the-shoes that we recall improvising for wintry moments in Alabama; nonetheless, they all somehow survived.

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On Saturday, May 17, Hank got his diploma from the University of Montana College of Forestry. Shown here celebrating with him are his brothers Allen and John and his sister-in-law Bonnie.

That very same day, Hank's cousin Andy Koehler also completed his college studies. Andy's degree, from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, is in music.

Posted by Ellen

Big brother is thirty-six and counting. He's got the young'un trained.

Posted by Ellen

. . . that Bart Simpson doll? We have no idea. But the baby in the middle? He turns 21 today.

That would be our youngest baby, Hankystein, shown here with his biggest brother John. All grown up now, a serious, stand-up guy, already taking his hard turn at fixing the world. He says he'll celebrate his 21st tonight by watching a documentary about climate change. Maybe that's really what he'll do. The kids today.

Hank's a serious guy, and you can count on him, but he takes a way goofy tack when things are looking a little too sincere. For example, below, he's nearing the finish line of a 50-km trail run–that's 50 kilometers, as in more than 30 miles, up and over a mountain, a Rocky Mountain. He was running amongst the rocks for eight hours. And there near the end, he sees a photographer, and it appears that he digs deep and summons the energy to . . . well, to jump in the air and mug for the camera.

On this occasion, Hank, we offer advice from a couple of your great-grandmothers, who never quite got to know you but who still pull a lot of strings across generational and other divides. From your great-grandmother Harriet, after whom you are named, we share a warning not to run too much, lest you come down with toe cancer. And from your great-grandma Buddy, we share an all-purpose birthday wish: Wear it in good health.

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Bright and early today, the kids go back to school in Philadelphia, all except for the kindergarteners, who get a few extra days of freedom before beginning thirteen years or seventeen years or even more of sitting at desks and trying to pay attention.

Of course, the kindergarteners don't know to appreciate their last days of freedom. They'll learn.

In 1983, our oldest child started kindergarten in Decatur, Georgia. Here he is with his class, sitting so nicely in the lower lefthand corner, smiling and looking at the camera, hands clasped in his lap. You better believe we were proud. Still are.

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Before last weekend's wedding, Bonnie the bride rehearsed with her attendants: her sister Caroline and longtime friend Katie. After the wedding, John the groom goofed around with his attendants: his brothers Ted, Joe, Allen, and Hank.

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Stein boys doing their brotherly whatever on the street last summer in Seattle. From the bottom: brothers number 4, 1, and 5.

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Two years ago, son John sent me this picture; he and his girlfriend Bonnie had posed with the pigs. But they were young then; today, John turns thirty-three. He and Bonnie are still together, though I fear that something has happened by now to most if not all of those little piggies.

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All five Stein boys touched down in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a few days ago and claimed the beachhead for the Crimson Tide. That's not very hard to do in Tuscaloosa.

The occasion was the premier social event of the year, on New Year's Day, the wedding of Neely Sims and Damon Ray.