Stories of Twenty-Fifteen - Week 10

Here’s this week’s story:

Title: Gratitude Journal
When David was six, he and I both started our own gratitude journals. He was learning how to write his letters and I had read a lot about the advantages of keeping a gratitude journal so we each started one. Even though, he’s since fallen out of practice, I feel that the regular writing exercise and having a daily focus on something good was really valuable for him.

Now that Nathaniel is approaching six himself, I decided it was time for him to get his own journal. As I was buying David his graph paper notebook for math this week, I got Nathaniel a notebook with wide lines. I got him one that was bright green because green is his favorite color.

On Tuesday, he started writing daily gratitudes. So far we have: I am grateful for the swings (at school.) I am grateful for the spiderweb ( a climbing structure at school.) I am grateful for cakepops. I am grateful that I went to the movies with my friends. We missed a day so we decided to just skip it and keep going.

I was worried that Nathaniel would rebel or whine or complain but he hasn’t done any of it. He always starts with picking his item, then writing “i am grateful” and then for each word, we first spell it out loud and see what all the letters of the full word are. Once he can easily repeat all the letters, he writes the word down by himself and then we discuss the next one and on and on.

Even though he’s not falling behind in any way, I want to make sure some of the attention stays on Nathaniel’s progress. We’ve been focusing a lot on David lately because of the Tech Challenge and middle schools, etc. So this project is my way of ensuring Nathaniel gets daily writing practice.

I will also search for some math work for him and I hope to convince him to read on his own more often, too. He can definitely read now and he just needs practice. Around this time, I did the daily reading with David so maybe that’s what we need here, too. Anyhow, one step at a time and, for this week, this journal is a wonderful step forward. Three cheers for Nathaniel!

Stories of Twenty Fifteen is a project for 2015. You can read more about it here.

Stories of Twenty-Fifteen - Week 9

Here’s this week’s story:

Title: The Tech Challenge
Story:On Thursday evening, I get a letter from a friend of David’s mom. “Is David doing the Tech Challenge?” she asks. Instead of going to bed, like I usually would, I decide to google it.

And then the world speeds up.

Next thing I know, I am emailing parents to see if they’d be willing to advise kids. I am reading the rules. I am talking to David. I am registering them and I am in the middle of forty-seven emails and twenty-three phone calls. All in the span of twenty-four hours.

Here we are, a mere two days later and I’ve committed David to spending two late nights and seven extra hours a week on this crazy project. I’ve also committed my own time with the kids once a week. I am reading documentation, trying to wrap my head around what all this means. Buying supplies for the kids to get started. Looking at my calendar and doing the math over and over again on how all this is going to fit into our already overflowing life.

And yet.

And yet we do it. David’s excited, motivated and looking forward to the adventure this is going to be. And isn’t that what life is all about? Working hard to support him in all the adventures he wants to take? Isn’t this what I meant when I picked brave for my work this year? Doing things despite the fear and worry. Stepping up. Showing up. Having faith that my instincts are faithful guides on this journey I’m taking.

So here we go. We stepped up for the challenge. Let’s see what unfolds from here. Let’s see if the boys really come through. Let’s see what we learn. Let’s see how much fun and struggle and learning this will result in. Let’s see what we don’t know yet. Let’s see where this journey takes us.

Bring it on.

Stories of Twenty Fifteen is a project for 2015. You can read more about it here.

Stories of Twenty-Fifteen - Week 8

Here’s this week’s story:

Title: Practicing Basketball
David’s class started their basketball practice and games in November. From November to March, they will have practice and a game each week. As opposed to many other boys in his class, David doesn’t play any basketball (or other similar sports) outside of school. This means that the weekly practice is all he gets.

In hopes of giving him a little more time to practice, Jake took both the boys to the park this week. As the boys practiced, I worked on my computer. Jake was shooting hoops, trying to teach David how to steal the ball from right under the net. I asked them if they could take a little break so I could take a photo of David shooting.

They were willing to accommodate me so David grabbed the ball and gave it a shot. It was the very perfect moment because David threw and it went right into the basket!

I am not a sporty person. I have never played any sports I wasn’t required to. I am way too clumsy and uncoordinated to be good at anything. Even when skiing and skating (the only two sports I can do) I am cautious and therefore not very good. Sports is just not my thing. It’s never been and I don’t think it will ever be at this point.

Which is exactly why I love watching my kids play. I love it when Jake takes them out there and works with them to improve their balance, their skills, and their dexterity. I love watching David try again and again. I love that he’s willing to keep going. I love that he’s getting to experience playing a team sport. I love that he keeps trying relentlessly.

I love sharing the things that I know how to do with my boys. It’s special for me to pass on my own joys and learnings. But, what I love even more is watching them do things I never could. Watching them ride bikes. Watching them sing or play an instrument. Watching them play sports. I haven’t done any of these things. I get to experience them for the first time through them. I get to see how amazing it feels to have your kids be better than you. To be more. To do more.

It’s a magical feeling.

Stories of Twenty Fifteen is a project for 2015. You can read more about it here.

Stories of Twenty-Fifteen - Week 7

Here’s this week’s story:

Title: Solar System Mobile
One of the presents Jake got for Nathaniel this Christmas was a box of Space Exploration projects. It wasn’t until Nathaniel asked him to help do some of the projects that he opened the box and realized how complicated each project was.

But he’d already promised to help.

So the boys got to work. They picked one of the simpler projects: a solar system mobile.

First they got a piece of yarn and put all the labels for each planet through. Then they tied a picture of the planet below each with a thread. Then, they blew up a yellow balloon to represent the sun. It sounds simple in the three sentences but these steps took quite some time. And then we had the challenge of where to put the finished project.

Jake and I took it upstairs very carefully and looked around Nathaniel’s room to find the perfect spot. As it turned out, we got lucky. We hung it right over his desk.

While the project is lovely, what I love most about this little story was watching the two boys work together. I love seeing how they are both so focused in the photo above. I love how Nathaniel’s not deterred by the difficulty of the task. I love how he wasn’t bored or didn’t get distracted and walk away. And, of course, I love what it taught him about science.

(I learned something, too. I had no idea how different the sizes of each of the planets were. And how much bigger Jupiter is than the others. )

I really enjoy watching the two boys play together and I love playing with them myself, but there’s something special, for me, in watching their dad play with them. Maybe it’s because it’s a father-son moment or maybe it’s because I love them both so much. Either way, these are special moments for me and I cherish every single one of them.

I love you so much, Nathaniel and Jake.

Stories of Twenty Fifteen is a project for 2015. You can read more about it here.

Stories of Twenty-Fifteen - Week 6

Here’s this week’s story:

Title: Traveling to Zurich
When I joined the Transit Team, Holly said it would probably be a good idea for me to visit Zurich sooner than later. I knew she was right, but I was reluctant to and worried about leaving the kids for a week. As it works out, because the flight there takes such a long time, it’s not really feasible to leave for less than a week.

So a week it was.

I booked my flight but immediately started dreading it. Even up until the very last moment, I was not looking forward to it. But, alas, the day came and it was time for me to get on the plane.

The boys drove me to the airport and gave me big hugs goodbye. The plane ride was long, but uneventful. And, before I knew it, I was in Zurich. I found the train to the office relatively easily and the awesome Google Transit directions got me right to my hotel. I took a quick shower and headed off to work.

Even though the first day was a bit awkward and disorganized, the next three days were extremely helpful and very busy. I spent all my days in meetings, coming up with lists of things to do, and connecting with all the engineers.

I spent my nights getting organized, winding down, reading, and resting.

The first three days, I woke up no later than 3am. I was very jet lagged but I still managed to get through the days without a problem. Later in the week, we even went out at night for some socializing.

All in all it was a fantastically worthwhile trip. I felt a lot more connected to the team and good about my job. And the boys? They did wonderfully. We chatted a bit each day and, while I missed them, I was too busy to really worry about anything.

As with most things, the idea of this trip was much worse in my head than how it all worked out in reality. Note to future self: Stop worrying, things always work out.

Stories of Twenty-Fifteen - Week 5

Here’s this week’s story:

Title: Learning to Play the Guitar
David, I know I’ve written about the guitar before. I’ve made a layout about it even but I also know that it still makes me so very happy to think of it and I want to write more because I am not sure whether you will keep this up or not, but I still want to remember these awesome days.

Right now, you’re learning so many songs thanks to your awesome teacher and you love them all so much because they are all songs you’re interested in. You started with Eleanor Rigby which was so hard for you and now not only can you play it but you can sing along as you play. You can also play a few really hard songs. You asked her to give you the notes for Paul McCartney’s Christmas song and for the Avicii song that I like because you know I like it. You’re learning On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons because you love them so much and I know you’d love to play all their songs.

The other day, I was upstairs with Daddy and you were downstairs practicing and singing with Nathaniel. Daddy was so surprised that it was you playing because he hasn’t heard you as often as I have and he had no idea how incredibly awesome you are at it.

I know I always bug you to practice more but it’s only because I can see how much better it’s making you and how each time you play, I can see your eyes shining a bit brighter and I can see you being proud of yourself.

David, I have no idea how it is that I got to have this kid who’s kind, smart, loves reading and physics, and crafting with me, and music. How is it possible that you’re so good at so many things? You, my son, never ever cease to amaze me. Your tenacity, your ability to absorb new information, your willingness to learn, your excitement and joy. It’s all contagious my sweet boy.

I don’t know if you will end up sticking with guitar. Part of me hopes you will and that you continue to fill our house with wonderful music every day. But even if you stop, my love, I want you to know that you were awesome and it was just a pleasure to get to listen to your playing and your singing for as long as we got to. I want to thank you for filling our lives up with such wonderful joy.

Stories of Twenty Fifteen is a project for 2015. You can read more about it here.

Stories of Twenty-Fifteen - Week 4

Here’s this week’s story:

Title: Saying Goodbye to Chrome
I started out in the Chrome team around 2008. It’s hard to nail down the exact date because I worked for Sundar for a while before that and there was no official transfer date. One day I was on the Mac team and also supporting Gears and next thing I know I was the PM for Mac, Linux and ChromeFrame.

I remember joining Sundar’s org and hearing about Chrome day and night and feeling like it was Sundar’s special baby. I used it and I didn’t think there was anything special about it. I remember wondering why he thought it was all that magical and why he thought it was going to be so important.

And he was so right.

As it turned out, Chrome is awesome. I mean the single best product I’ve worked on so far in my life. I’ve loved the product, the team, the management, the users, the work, all of it. Of course, there were many things I didn’t like. Many things I didn’t understand and likely never would, but still, I’ve loved Chrome for such a long time, now. It’s been something I’m incredibly proud to be a part of. Something I’ve felt a strong sense of belonging with and something that’s felt so very familiar.

And yet. The last few years have also had a lot of tough moments. I’ve had times where I felt I was no longer learning, I was no longer inspired by my own work, I was feeling frustrated and trapped. And I don’t want to feel any of those things. I was scared to move. I knew how special Chrome was and I knew there was a high chance I’d regret moving. But the things I wanted to change weren’t really going to for a long time. So since they were here to stay, I had to figure another way out.

So I made the tough decision to finally say goodbye. It mostly fell on my lap. It started with an email from Caesar, went to Ryan and then randomly ended up on Holly’s lap. And I churned and churned and followed an instinct that I am still not sure of but it felt brave. (Let’s see if it still does a year from now or if it will feel stupid.)

It was time to move on but I know I will miss it dearly and I am so thankful to Chrome.

Stories of Twenty Fifteen is a project for 2015. You can read more about it here.

Stories of Twenty-Fifteen - Week 3

Here’s this week’s story:

Title: Breast Stroke Ribbon
I remember the first time we ever took you swimming, David. You were five years old and I was worried that we’d waited so long that you would be completely scared of water and never want to go in. All of my friends had taken their kids swimming for years but we’d listened to our pediatrician who said to wait till you were five.

So we did. But even though I listened to him, I was still worried that somehow I’d messed up and you’d be permanently scarred from my mistake.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. You went to your class, saw the pool and jumped right in. You played with the teacher and all of his toys. You had no problem going under the water. You had the time of your life.

I can’t tell you how relieved I was watching you have so much fun. Once we started, we never stopped having you take lessons. Even though, you’ve only had a 30minute lesson shared across four people, once a week, you still slowly managed to progress through each of the strokes.

You started with freestyle and then moved on to backstroke, which I think is still your favorite. And then you began learning breast stroke. At first, it felt so weird that you said you’d never be able to figure it out. It was so different from the other two. You didn’t kick in the same way. It seemed tough to coordinate your legs and hands at the same time. Since Daddy was the one who took you swimming each week, I never really got to see your progress; just the words you said when you came home each week. And you’re not known for being the most optimistic one in the family.

So I had no idea how close you were to actually getting your ribbon. And of course, it ended up coinciding with a day where we were in a rush and had to leave early. You were devastated not to get to pick it up after having done so much work. But, after the party we were committed to, we went back to the swim school and not only did you get your ribbon but you got to have your picture taken, too.

I love seeing that huge smile on your face, my son, I am so proud of you!

Stories of Twenty Fifteen is a project for 2015. You can read more about it here.

Stories of Twenty-Fifteen - Week 2

Here’s this week’s story:

Title: River Bear Sitter
In Nathaniel’s Kindergarten class, each of the students gets to have a job for two weeks. Nathaniel’s first job was Electrician. He said it meant that he had to turn the lights on and off throughout the day. He wasn’t crazy about being the Electrician.

For his second job, he got to be the River Bear Sitter. This meant that he was responsible for River Bear for two whole weeks. He could choose to take River Bear home each night and bring him back to school. Or not.

For the first week, he didn’t bring River Bear home at all. I had no idea what his plans were but he told me that he wasn’t required to bring him home and I didn’t push him.

But then on the second week, we were off for Thanksgiving so River Bear got to come home with us all day long for a whole week. Along with River Bear, we also got a little picture book which we were apparently supposed to fill (not that Nathaniel told me anything) with photos of him with River Bear.

So throughout this week, our goal is to get as many fun shots with River Bear as possible. Even though Nathaniel doesn’t seem to have a grand plan, he did insist that I take a photo of him and the bear in front of the Christmas tree. And he also said that we had to make sure to take a photo of him at our Thanksgiving dinner ( which was quite funny to me because no one, except Jake, is all that into Thanksgiving in this family. ) It seems he has a few plans for the bear after all.

I have found this whole process quite interesting. I had thought he would be super-into hanging out with River Bear and getting his photo taken as much as possible. But he seems to be quite laissez-faire about the whole thing. Which, I suppose, is a much easier way to go through life. Maybe he’s trying to teach me a lesson…

We shall see how the rest of the week unfolds, but for now, I’m enjoying all the photos he’s asking me to take and the relaxed attitude he seems to have towards the whole experience.

Stories of Twenty Fifteen is a project for 2015. You can read more about it here.

2015 Projects – Stories of Twenty-Fifteen – Intro and Week 1

I’ve done The Savor Project for the last few years and I’ve changed it up slightly each year to see if I can make it work for me. And year after year, I felt like I didn’t like the system I ended up with. It felt more burdensome than fun. Also, I feel like it always disintegrated to a photo project. A lot of photos from the year but not enough stories.

So for 2015, I decided to do something different. Instead of going for breadth, I am going to go for depth. I will be picking a photo and a story from each week and telling the longer stories.

I am using a 6×12 format. I designed these using the templates Ali Edwards had created for the 31 Stories class a few years ago. Hers was a 12×12 with two 6x12s next to each other but I want to just do a 6×12. I bought 6×12 page protectors and created templates and that’s all I need to get going.

Here’s the first story for this year. It’s actually from the end of last year, I always try out my ideas first so my first few pages are always from the previous year.

Title: The Sticker Book
This weekend, I was working with Daddy on a coding project for work. The two of you had already used up your computer time so you had to think of some way to spend your afternoon. Nathaniel had the idea of making a sticker book and David, you said, you’d show him now to make one.

After David made the book, the two of you went through my drawer in the garage and picked a stack of stickers for your project. For the next hour, you both worked silently and diligently on your sticker book.

When it was done, you showed me all of its pages. Each page had a category. You had one for money, cheer words, stars, science cheer words, animals, and one fo plants and flowers. I loved seeing how organized you two were and how systematically you went through the whole process.

But, of course, the best part was watching how excited you two were about all the stickers, about your project, and how proud you were to show me the results. Even though you get along well, for the most part, it isn’t very often that you two work together on a project.

I cherish those rare occasions when you work together and you’re not arguing but you’re collaborating and really enjoying spending time together. As you grow up, you will see that there’s nothing as magical as watching people you love, love each other. And there’s nothing as wonderful as seeing your kids get along, enjoy each others’ company, and be happy playing together.

The two of you never cease to remind me how lucky I am. Today was just another example of little moments of magic that surround my everyday life. I am so thankful for you, I am so thankful for our lives together. I am so thankful to get to live these little moments with you.

I love you so very, very much.

Here’s to a year of storytelling!

Thank you for Filling our life with Music

This is a January layout for My Mind’s Eye:

Journaling reads:
Dear David,

When I was a little girl, I asked my mom if I could learn to play the piano. She said no. I am not sure why since she rarely said no to things, but she did to this one. Almost thirty years later, I still wish she’d let me take lessons. Over the years, I’ve tried to learn an instrument. In NY, I took saxophone lessons and tried to learn how to read music.

But I never succeeded.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve given up on the music and taken up other ways to enjoy my time. I also promised myself that if either of my kids ever asked for musical instrument lessons, I’d make a point to say yes.

A few years ago, I asked you if you’d like to learn guitar and you said yes but then decided, at the last minute, that you didn’t want to after all. I was disappointed but I didn’t say anything. Last year, after you sang at the school talent show, I asked you again. This time you said, yes.

I emailed your music teacher who had been unavailable last time we asked her and she said she was happy to do it this time. So we bought you a guitar, some picks, and a stand.

And the lessons began.

Sometimes it’s a challenge to get you to practice and when I ask you to do it, you sulk a bunch. And you whine when you remember that your teacher is about to come over. But when you actually start playing the guitar, most of that vanishes. You have already learned several songs by heart and I can see you working your way through several more.

One of my favorite things to do is to watch you play. To hear the beautiful sounds you can make with the instrument. The way you get excited about learning to play a new song that you love to sing. The way you’re always so in the momentum of it all when your teacher leaves that you always ask if you can keep practicing. The way your face lights up when you get a chord right.

My love, this hobby might end up going nowhere or you might keep it up and become a wonderful guitar player. Either way, I am enjoying it for as long as I can. Thank you for filling our house with music and for making the little girl in me so very happy. I am so proud of you and I love you with all my heart.

2015 - Here I come

This is a December layout for My Mind’s Eye:

Journaling reads:
As the year comes to a close, I’ve been thinking about my life and the upcoming year and what I want for myself in 2015. For the last few weeks, I’ve been wanting to plan my projects for the next year and revisit my core desires to see if they are still the same or whether new ones speak to me, now.

Last week, I finally curled up with the book and started answering the questions. I already knew my word for 2015 would be brave which is also going to be one of my Core Desired Feelings for the year. But then I looked through all my journaling and tried to pick out other words that jumped at me.

Serene has been with me for all of 2014 but I know that I am not willing to let that one go. Serenity is really all I seek in the world. As I move to a new job, start getting older and as David starts transitioning out of elementary school, I need to be serene more than ever. I thought briefly about picking equanimity but decided serene is the exact word that speaks to my soul.

The next word that jumped out at me was alive. I want to feel alive. To me, this is even more than engaged. I want to feel fully alive. I want to do things that scare me. I want to have experiences that overwhelm me in all the good ways. I want to feel fully awake and alive in my body. I want to be present for all my days. I want to smile wide, embrace all of myself, and suck out all the marrow of my life.

The next two words belong together. The first one of the two was the one that came to me first. Abundance. I want to have a mentality of abundance. I want to feel the opposite of constricted. I want to feel expansive. I want to feel like there’s so much much more of everything I worry about, time, worthiness, friends, money, opportunities, kindness, and success. I want to feel like we each get our own full pie and that I want to share mine with everyone. With the whole world. I want the kindness and ease that comes with the feeling of abundance. The generosity of life and spirit.

And then, I also want the opposite. I want to be open to receive. I want to be open to others. Open to the universe. Open to the possibilities. I want to allow others to help. Allow others to love me. To cherish me. I want to allow myself to feel everyone’s love and awe and kindness and generosity. I don’t want to question these things, I don’t want to feel undeserving or unworthy or not-belonging. I want to feel open to everyone. To everything. Wide open.

So here are my core desires for 2015. Sort of similar to the ones from 2014 but not completely. I want 2015 to be the year I fully stepped into being myself. The year I fell in love with myself, with everyone around me, with life, with the universe. I want 2015 to be the year I let the serenity spread from the inside out. I want it to be the year I feel abundantly alive and open myself up to life. And I think brave is just the right word for this year since all of these things will require much courage.

I am ready. Bring it on.