Sunday, December 15, 2013

Merry Christmas!

If we had to pick a theme for 2013, it would be travel. As in years past, we spent our spring break in an RV, this year visiting Joshua Tree National Park, Death Valley, and Las Vegas. In hindsight, we would’ve loved to have spent more time in Death Valley – though we had a great time seeing a Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas for Robby’s birthday, Death Valley is a park that requires quite a bit more time than we were able to give it. We can’t wait to go back!

In May, my parents stayed at our house with the kids while Robin and I traveled to New Orleans for JazzFest. This has long been on our ‘bucket list’, and it did not disappoint. In addition to seeing some incredible live music, we were fortunate to enjoy some equally great local food and drink with our friends Rob & Laura while we stayed in the heart of the French Quarter.

As school let out, we took a road trip (no RV!) to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park for Father’s Day. Robin found a fantastic family lodge nestled between both parks, and we took full advantage by visiting both. As much as we adore Yosemite, the grandeur of the sequoia redwoods is among our favorite memories of this year!

July was quite special: Robin’s parents, Bob & Elaine, celebrated 50 years together. We celebrated as a family in Hawaii, where we rented a house and the kids got great cousin time. Visiting Pearl Harbor on July 4th was particularly memorable, and if you need a Mai Tai recipe, I did a lot of research and am happy to share notes.

Becca had her first all-day Girl Scout camp this summer, and Robby joined his brother for his first overnight Scout camp near Lassen National Park.

And they were far from done: July was also the month that the kids went on a cruise! Without their parents. My parents took all five of their grandchildren on a Disney cruise to the Caribbean. The kids had their first snorkeling experience in Hanauma Bay over the 4th, and not 3 weeks later were snorkeling in the Caribbean! I want to be my kids when I grow up.

While the kids were sailing the seas with my parents, Robin and I knocked around northern California: we spent some time in San Francisco, did a day trip up the coast, and visited a bunch of wineries in Napa. We’re fortunate that the kids enjoy the trips we make to visit wineries, but we have to admit that going alone has a lot going for it!

In August, Becca started 3rd grade, Ricky entered 8th grade and Robby started 6th grade. That’s right: both boys are now in junior high school. We don’t know how that happened either. Becca loves doing math problems in her spare time, when she’s not making Rainbow Loom bracelets or menus for her cafe (which looks a lot like our kitchen). Robby enjoys geography and history, and sings every chance he can. Ricky is thriving in school this year but is most excited by his computer applications class. And all three are known to sneak books at every opportunity, which we pretend to be frustrated by but not-so-secretly love.

A friend of mine got married in Boston in October, so our final trip of the year was a family trip to New England. We introduced the kids to foliage, the coast of Maine, L.L. Bean, Dunkin Donuts, the Old North Bridge, and Sturbridge Village. We all agreed we’d be back soon.

In addition to school, Becca seeks out new opportunities at every turn: basketball, gymnastics, softball, swimming, Girl Scouts, and piano – she can’t get enough. And Robby has taken up tennis, remains active in Boy Scouts, and learned to program robots for a First Lego League robotics team this year. Ricky continues with tennis, joined his sister on piano, is advancing in Boy Scouts, and was the master builder on the FLL robotics team.

I remain with Google Ventures, where I couldn’t be happier. I coached the boys’ robotics team, and am proud to say we did not finish in last place in our first competition! Robin continues as legislative lead for the San Ramon Valley Council of PTAs and is the leader for Becca’s Girl Scout troop.

As blessed as we’ve been to see so much in 2013, it’s the time with friends and family that stand out as the highlights for us. We hope to see more of you in 2014!