Stories of Twenty-Fifteen – Week 29

Here’s this week’s story:

Title: Three Days in Coloma
David, I knew this day was coming all year but I just kept avoiding it because Coloma was going to be the first time you were away from home. And I wasn’t ready for that. But, like it or not, the day came. And we had to say goodbye.

You left with the rest of your class, teachers, and a few parent chaperones. For the next three days, I didn’t get to hear your wonderful voice. I got a few emails from your teachers and I had to be okay with just having that.

In the first few photos they sent, we couldn’t see you and that made us even more worried. But the three days passed quickly and you were back in my arms before I knew it. And the best part was that you had a total blast! You came back with wonderful memories, awe-inspiring stories, and a fantastic adventure.

I know this is the beginning of many more trips you will take on your own and while I, of course, wish you could be with me all the time, I am so happy to see you grow up and venture out into the world on your own to create your own memories, your own experiences, and to watch you grow.

David, I am so incredibly proud of you and grateful for you every single day.

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

Stories of Twenty-Fifteen – Week 28

Here’s this week’s story:

Title: Happy Birthday Nathaniel
In the middle of the craziness of the Benefit and the Tech Challenge, this little boy turned six years old. Six.


How did we already get here? He was so very little just yesterday and now he’s so close to being a big boy. He can do everything by himself. He no longer has a blankie, no longer sucks his thumb and no longer falls asleep as easily as he used to. He can now read and do some amazing math. He has the best memory of anyone I know and he’s constantly paying attention to every single thing.

But none of those things are what make you special, Nathaniel. What makes you an amazing human being is that you exude joy. People are drawn to you and to your incredible energy. You make everyone feel happier. I get emails from every parent telling me how amazing you are and how happy you make them feel. And, my sweet son, they are so right. You are just the sweetest, kindest, most lovable person in the world. I have no idea how I got this lucky.

Even though your birthday ended up falling before two of the biggest events of our year, you never complained. You took it all in stride (as you do always.) You woke up to your usual huge balloon and cupcake with candles. You opened your first present and loved the Lego watch so much that you wore it to school all day. You loved having Daddy come read your favorite story to the class. You told every single person about how it’s your birthday. And then, after school you bounced with joy some more as you had more cakes and more presents. You never complained about not getting a party or a bigger event this time around. My sweet son, I promise we will make it all up to you next year.

Nathaniel, I don’t know how it worked out that I blinked and you’re now six. But I know that I will blink again and you’ll be fifteen so I am going to make the most of these moments we have together. I am going to hug you all the time and I am going to soak in the sunshine that you carry with you everywhere you go. I love you with all my heart.

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

Stories of Twenty-Fifteen – Week 27

Here’s this week’s story:

Title: A Curious Curious Night Benefit
After months and months and months of work, tonight was finally the night of the PBS benefit. I had no idea how amazingly it would all come together. I kept praying and praying that everything would go well and I am so grateful to say that it did. It was a magical evening full of beautiful conversation and community. We had the largest attendance ever in the history of the school and ended up raising 44% more funds than we had hoped to.

I still have no idea what compelled me to take this particular journey but I am so very glad I did. It taught me so much. It helped me make so many new friends and connections. It tightened my bond to the school. It helped me see all the work that goes into these events. And more than anything else, it helped me be a little bit braver every single day. Here’s to continuing to honor my word throughout the rest of 2015.

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

Stories of Twenty-Fifteen – Week 26

Here’s this week’s story:

Title: The Tech Challenge
After more than three months of work, the day finally arrived. The boys got completely ready, working both on their structure and the journal up until the last week. We all woke up early on Saturday morning and David and I drove down to the Tech Museum together. The other boys slowly trickled in and then it was time for us to say good-bye so the boys could continue their journey alone.

What felt like hours later, they were on the stage, telling everyone about their creation. (David did all the talking!) and then it was time to test their structure. I think all of us held our breath collectively while this amazing structure withstood three separate earthquakes and not one toothpick fell off.

All in all, it was a huge success. A wonderful project where the kids learned a tremendous amount about building, working together, documenting their process, and creating something that was 100% theirs.

David, I know this project had some tough, tough days for you, but you stuck by it. You showed up again and again and created something I could never, ever have done. You saw it all the way to the end, and you learned so very much along the way, I cannot tell you how incredibly proud of you I am. Thank you for inspiring me every single day and reminding me exactly why I wanted to move to America so you could have access to incredible opportunities just like this one. I love you madly.

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

Stories of Twenty-Fifteen – Week 25

Here’s this week’s story:

Title: Pismo Beach
The day I got back from New York City, the boys started their Spring Vacation. Even though I’d already taken too many trips away from home, I knew they’d like to spend some time relaxing and enjoying California sunshine.

I wanted to go somewhere far enough to have Southern California weather but still within a reasonable drive. So we decided to go to Pismo Beach. (Well, I called hotels in Cayucos, Morro Bay, Carmel, but all of them were booked except for Pismo.)

It was a little over three hours to drive down there and we left first thing on Sunday morning, so we got there about midday. Our room wasn’t ready yet so we decided to drive to San Luis Obispo and have some lunch instead. We went to the famous Firestone Grill and had some hotdogs and burgers. Walked around a bit and then went back to the hotel to check in.

Our hotel was right over the beach and we could watch the sun set from our patio. We spent the next four days playing on the beach, swimming in the pool, sitting in the hot tub, making sand castles, flying kites, eating candy and reading. The boys also played video games, football and other sports with Daddy.

On Tuesday, it rained, so we decided to go see a movie. At home was playing and we’d been looking forward to seeing it. It turned out to be a wonderful movie. We also spent some time at the bookstore and managed to avoid all the rain. We spent a lot of time walking around and enjoying each other’s company.

I came back home to a lot of work and felt very very tired on Thursday. But, even though the weather was colder than I’d hoped and my back hurt a lot more than I’d like, it was still really wonderful to get away for a few days. I managed to read a few books, get a lot of sleep, and soak in the sunshine.

Nothing like spending some family time together. Nothing like spending time away from our typical routine. Nothing like laughing together. Discovering new things, like the blood worms we found on the sand. Nothing like enjoying my incredible family.

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

Stories of Twenty-Fifteen – Week 24

Here’s this week’s story:

Title: Six Hours in New York City
While I was in Zurich, Marcus told me that he was visiting New York City in just a few weeks and it might be nice if I joined them as well. I hadn’t planned on traveling so soon after I got back from Switzerland but I also didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see the engineers since they were coming all the way to the United States.

Marcus and I went back and forth several times on which days might be the best for me to be there. After several discussions, it became clear that Friday was going to be the ideal day when I could have meetings with the people I needed to see.

I considered getting there on Thursday and spending the night in the city but I really didn’t want to fly all day, get there late in the afternoon, and then get up and go to work the next day. I figured instead of wasting an entire day on the plane, I could take the red eye on Thursday night, go right to work after the plane lands, sit through all my meetings and then take the evening flight back to San Francisco.

This way, I’d only be away from the kids one night and one day. I’d still make it to all my meetings, and even get to spend extra time with Marcus on the way back to Newark. I knew traveling 12 hours to be there for nine seemed a bit crazy but it felt like the best option, to me. I was worried that I wouldn’t get to sleep on the plane and would have an awful day, but I decided to take the risk anyway.

As it turned out, everything went just fine. I didn’t get to sleep on the plane but I got in to work early, took a shower and had breakfast before I met up with Marcus. I was awake and present for all the meetings, I had lunch with one of the engineers I hadn’t spent enough time with up until then, I met a lot of people in the New York office, and I got to chat with Marcus for a long time on the way to our planes.

All in all, it was a very worthwhile trip and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had made it in my mind. I goy home at11pm on Friday so I went right to bed and had no problem recovering from the slightly insane schedule the day before.

Lesson learned: it’s ok to do crazy things every now and then.

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

Stories of Twenty-Fifteen – Week 23

Here’s this week’s story:

Title: Pinkeye
When I got back from Zurich, the boys were very happy to see me but they also looked like they’d had a wonderful time with Daddy. They’d played games, eaten cookies and ice cream, spent a lot of time running around at school and playing with their friends. I felt grateful that they have such a wonderful Dad.

The next day, however, I noticed Nathaniel kept scratching his eye. At first I thought he was having an allergic reaction to being outside. He was sneezing and had a runny nose so it didn’t seem impossible that he was allergic to something. And maybe the jet lag got in the way of my thinking clearly because I didn’t think too much of it.

That night he was even more agitated but because I’d already fallen asleep, I didn’t know about it until the next morning. By the time he woke up, both his eyes were completely red and swollen. It didn’t even take me a second to diagnose him.

He had pinkeye.

So off to the emergency room we went. It was Sunday morning, of course, as these things only seem to happen on Sundays to us. We were lucky enough to get an appointment at the Medical Center so we didn’t have to go to Stanford’s Emergency Room which is always a long wait and makes me really sad.

The doctor confirmed he had pinkeye and gave him drops for the next eight days. She did, however, say he’d be able to go to school on Monday since he’s have had the drops for 24 hours by then. This was a huge relief because I was scheduled to go to work the next day.

Even though the pinkeye continued for the next few days before the symptoms subsided, the little boy took it all in stride. As he does with almost everything. I am so grateful that he’s always in such good spirits and doesn’t get fazed. I’m also grateful that it was just pinkeye and nothing more serious.

I love you, little boy, hope you get better fast.

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

Stories of Twenty-Fifteen – Week 22

Here’s this week’s story:

Title: Directions Spring Pow Wow
When I went to Switzerland back in December, the team told me about a quarterly powow that would likely happen in January. I told them that I didn’t think I could be back for January but I would make sure to attend the next one.

Well, the next one was in March. As it worked out, it was a relatively uneventful week at home so I didn’t feet horribly guilty leaving the kids. I was still not really looking forward to the long trip, to leaving the kids, and to multi-day-long meetings.

The first day I got there was late in the afternoon. I went into work and chatted with some of the engineers and I was already happy to be there. The second day, however, was extremely long and full of a lot of information. By the time I went to bed, my head was spinning and I was ready to get some rest, especially since I’d woken up at 2am that day, thanks to jet lag.

The next morning, I felt alone and homesick. This always seems to happen on day two. I feel the most disconnected and alone on that day. But by the end of the same day, I was completely happy to have made the trip. I had had a lot of meetings, connected with many of the people I work with but don’t get to see in person. We also went out to dinner as a whole team on Wednesday night which was quite nice.

On Thursday, I was even happier that I’d come. I spent even more time talking to my team members, to other, wider team. Generally by this day, we’ve done all the must-do work and it’s more casual, deeper conversations. The ones that really make me feel a stronger sense of connection and belonging. We then went out to dinner on Thursday night, just our team. It was a wonderful day and night. The perfect way to end the trip. It made me feel grateful to have made the effort.

I know that there will be one of these every quarter and maybe I can’t attend all of them but I wanted to write down this story so that I can remember how wonderful it is to take this time and connect with the team in person. I know it’s no fun leaving my kids, but I also know that being happier at work is strongly correlated to feeling a deep sense of belonging. So it’s worthwhile to take the time to go.

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

Stories of Twenty-Fifteen – Week 21

Here’s this week’s story:

Title: Planting Vegetables
Last year when Jake’s mom was visiting, I asked her if she’s be willing to put some vegetable beds in the backyard. I wasn’t sure if anything can grow in our yard considering how little sun we get and I also didn’t want to ruin any of the grass. But I still loved the idea of the boys spending time nurturing and eating food we grew ourselves.

My mother in law not only rose to the challenge but was thrilled to tackle this project with the boys. So when they came to visit us in March, while Jake and I took our trip to Cayucos, they began their project of creating some planters in the backyard. The boys and she discussed the items at length and ended up with lettuce, peas, radishes, carrots, micro greens, tomatoes pole beans, and bush beans. A nice, wide range of wonderful vegetables.

They bought the beds, the soil, the seeds and spent their weekend putting the whole thing together. And the boys are now tasked with watering the plants every day. They take so much pride in telling me what they chose and how to water everything just the right amount.

I know that for most serious gardeners, this is a tiny step that might not even be worth mentioning, but, for us, this is exactly the right size for a project. We are not usually great at growing things and I love that it’s a small step we can take to try doing something new. It’s manageable by the children so they can fully own the process and take pleasure and pride in the outcome.

Some of the plants have already begun sprouting and it’s so wonderful to watch the kids’ delight in seeing their work come to fruition. It’s so magical to see food growing in our yard. It gives me incredible joy.

Thank you so much, Marilyn, for making my dream come true. For doing it in such a simple, elegant, and kid-centered way. We are all so very lucky to have you and we are so grateful for this lovely new project. It’s the gift that keeps giving again and again. We love you so very much!!

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

Stories of Twenty-Fifteen – Week 20

Here’s this week’s story :

Title: Losing His First Tooth
The boys went to the dentist with their dad last week. It was supposed to be a regular cleaning appointment but as it turned out, Nathaniel needed a follow up so they could pull one of his bottom teeth. Poor little boy.

So today was the day they went back to the dentist and the little boy lost his first tooth. It ended up that it was a really good decision to pull his tooth because its root was so big that the new tooth coming below it would never been able to push it out. He was brave and didn’t make a fuss about any of it (he never does!)

I can’t believe this little boy is already old enough to be losing teeth already. He was supposed to be our baby and now he’s becoming a big boy, too. No more babies in this house.

This little tooth, even though it didn’t fall of it’s own accord, is just the beginning of many milestones he will have on his way to becoming a big boy. I look at this cute face and wish I could hold on to these years just a little bit longer. I wish we could cuddle a bit tighter and laugh and giggle and snuggle together.

One of my focuses this year has been spending more time together. Savoring these precious moments. Letting Nathaniel run around the playground a little longer. Encouraging his silliness. Laughing at his shenanigans. Remembering that these moments will slip away before I know it.

Next thing I know, this little boy will be a teenager. He will be a college boy. He will be married and then a father himself. I deeply hope all these things happen for him. I hope he walks through life’s journey as smoothly and joyfully as possible.

But I also don’t want to rush these days. I want to remember every one of his hugs. Each of his smiles. The way his cuddles feel. His soft hands. His sweet smiles. His shining eyes. His bouncy step.

Most of all, I want to remember his magic. I love you madly, Nathaniel.

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

Stories of Twenty-Fifteen – Week 19

Here’s this week’s story :

Title: Just the Two of us at Cayucos
One of my goals this year was to take more adventures. Be bolder. Take more chances. One of the items on my list was to take a trip with Jake without the kids. This is something we talked about several times but never did and I had decided 2015 would be the year we’d change that.

I emailed my mother-in-law and tried to see if they’d be willing to fly over here for a weekend so Jake and I could go away. She graciously said yes right away. And this was the weekend. They came on Thursday night and spent Friday and Saturday in our house so we could go away.

We had a lot of of conversations about where to go. We started with exciting locations like Paris and South America and then moved to more adventurous places like Alaska to see the Northern Lights. And then we scaled down to Phoenix but finally landed on Central Coast. It might sound lame to start with Paris and end with Cayucos, but it actually gave me so much relief to know we were going to be only a few hours away without a plane flight, somewhere sweet and calming and right by the water.

And it was the perfect place to go.

Our little hotel was literally on top of the beach. We didn’t even have to walk two steps to have our feet in the sand. We slept and woke up to the sounds of the crashing waves and saw a magnificent sunset while hanging out with the birds on the beach.

It really was perfect.

We walked around town, we drove to San Luis Obispo, we went to the Montana de Oro park. We relaxed. We talked. We drove up PCH all the way home and stopped in San Simeon to see the seals and in Big Sur to eat a bite at the lovely Nepenthe. It was all breathtakingly beautiful.

And the kids? They had a blast with their grandparents and didn’t miss us much at all. Here’s to the beginning of many more adventures!

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

Stories of Twenty-Fifteen – Week 18

Here’s this week’s story (sorry for the blurs i didn’t want to put the other kids on the internet without permission):

Title: The Last Basketball Game of the Season
Today was David’s last basketball class for the season. This is his second year playing and he has improved so much over time. Yes, he’s still a long way from some of the superstar players on his team but he’s a lot more comfortable on the court and he’s participating very actively in the games. More importantly, he’s part of this wonderful group of very supportive players.

David’s team won all but four games this season including this very last game. David gave his best this game and so did all the other boys. It was really wonderful to see that both of the fourth grade teachers also made it to the game so they could cheer their students on.

I grew up doing no sports whatsoever so, to me, all of this is very new and I find the whole process foreign. Even though David’s inclination, like me, is to stay home and read and stay away from sports, I wanted to make sure he had experience being part of a team, and playing games that might not come easily to him.

The way basketball is offered in his school is the very best possible introduction to sports, in my opinion. Almost everyone in the class participates so the amount of experience and ability is a wide range. Competition is there but is not core to the experience and all the kids know this and they cheer each other on and encourage each other to be their best selves. When one makes a mistake, all the others are there to comfort him and tell him it’s no big deal and when one does exceptionally well, they pat him in the back and congratulate him heartily. It’s really rewarding to watch how kind they are to each other.

We have one more year of this before it’s time for middle school and who knows what the dynamic will be there, but in the meantime, I am grateful that David is willing to give this a try even though I know it’s not easy for him. I am grateful to the school for offering such a safe environment for the kids. And I am grateful to these kids who go out of their way to encourage each other.

Congratulations, my sweet boy. Here’s to another wonderful year in fifth grade.

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