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 Neither of my parents had siblings, so our “traditional” family unit was pretty darn tiny. Or was it?
The township of Sparta, N.J., with a population of barely 6,000, was where my brother, Dave, and I grew up. It was a time when it seemed that everyone was your parent or knew your parents. The whole “It takes a village to raise a child” idea was our town personified. Everybody knew your business and was in your business. And, as a child, you had better mind your business.
It was actually a lot of fun. We were “adopted” by my mother’s best friend, my Aunt Jimmie, whose family seemed to stretch on forever. We would come to their Fourth of July and holiday parties, where a mass of 50-plus people young and old would gather to feast, laugh and become even more tightly woven. It was dazzling. Children, teens and young adults all played, fought and caused a general ruckus together. No one was excluded.
Growing up in a small town also meant making friends that stayed around. I have friends from as far back as kindergarten who are as close as my brother and I. These people share my cares and woes and will support me as well as celebrate with me. One good thing about today’s social technology is it makes it easy to keep up with those people.
Now that my own children are finding their way in the world, my other “family” bonds are becoming even stronger. My physically-in-the-home family has shrunk. I’m minus two lovely young adults, three cats, a dog and some fish. Now I’m spending my time with a loving husband, Jim, and a silly blue bird named Morgan.
Family is really anyone who is important to you, whether it’s made up of blood relatives or people you have chosen to share life’s adventure with you. You can be just two people and a pet or a cast of many. And, you may have several different families that revolve around your work, play or religious inclination.
I often refer to our “Acorn family.” So, as a gift from one family to our larger family, please enjoy this issue of Beyond the Acorn. We hope you have a wonderful summer. And, as always, I will delight in your comments and suggestions.

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Lisa Rule, Publisher
lisabeyond@theacorn.com

 Family. The word
describes the people you call on when there’s no one else to call. They’re the ones you hang out with when the party is over, the people whom you feel bonded to in a way that’s strong and dependable. They may be yours by blood or by choice, but either way they are fundamentally your people.
In this issue of Beyond we look at Family from several different vantage points. We get a glimpse of the first family of Camarillo, those who rode the tide of development through the rancho period into the baby stages of cityhood.
We also look at the roots and the wings that parents strive to provide to their children, especially in that crucial time when the chicks are preparing to leave the nest and head to college. And if you think there’s an easy answer to that one, think again.
We meet grandparents who have redefined family, pulling in the ranks to raise their grandson after his mother’s untimely death. We also meet a family whose legacy is music—it must be in their genes. Both grandmother and granddaughter have found their voices on the stage.
On the lighter side, if you are looking for fun things to do this summer, we’ve gathered more local, family-friendly activities than you could ever partake of in one season. We hope you’ll have a great time trying to make your way through the list. But if you’re itching to venture farther from home, check out our feature on RV travel. A road trip’s a great way to spend time together while having an adventure.
We also tried something new in this issue of Beyond: We asked our readers to send in photos of their pets. The response was fabulous and we received many more pictures than we could publish, so please visit www.beyondtheacorn.com to see the rest of your “pet family” photos.
Talk about redefining the concept. How many of us describe our pets as family? Guilty as charged. That’s a photo of me with my new “kids.” Just when things were starting to get quiet at home with two sons off to college, we adopted these Australian cattle dogs. We found Callie and Jack through L.I.F.E. Animal Rescue (great organization, by the way), and now I’m hopelessly in love with them, even when they are barking to wake the dead or chewing through my favorite sandals. That’s family—you love ’em no matter what.
I hope you enjoy this issue of Beyond. We certainly had fun putting it together for you, our “family” of readers.
Until next time,

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Leslie Gregory Haukoos, Editor-in-Chief
beyond@theacorn.com