Saturday, December 20, 2014

2014 Letter

Greetings Everyone -

I hope that everyone has had a great and fulfilling year.

As with every passing year, this one seems busier than the last. As the kids continue to grow and develop their interests there are more things that require our time and energy.  More and more of the individual personalities of our three kids are starting take shape and in many cases diverge from one another.  We are lucky that more often than not they are able to co-exist with one another in relative harmony.  Not every day is smooth, but we really can consider ourselves lucky on this front.

Anytime you write a retrospective letter like this it seems a near impossible task to avoid the standard cliches that seem to permeate everyone’s description of their lives.  With that said I can say we’ve had a pretty adventurous year.

In April, Christy and Ainsley took a trip to the East coast visiting Washington D.C. for a couple of days followed up by a whirlwind trip to New York City with Christy’s life long friend Janice and her daughter, Libby.  The trip included a visit to the U.S. Mint, the National Mall, a bike trip through Central Park and, of course, a sampling of New York pizza.  Upon arriving home Ainsley quickly proclaimed her intention to live in New York when she gets older, which means 18-19 years old to her. Her description of what she envisions this to look like is funny to listen to since, from what I can tell, aren’t based on any sense of reality.  But I don’t really recall having dreams of my ideal living destination when I was 13, so maybe her continued focus on these thoughts and dreams over the next few years will make it easier for her to realize.

She continues to volunteer at our local library which she enjoys quite a bit.  Sometimes I think it is hard for us to remember how old she is and let some of our protective tendencies subside.  When she comes home and tells us how she used the giant paper cutter we both shudder and cannot believe that she has all of her digits remaining.  Yet, admittedly, she’s a big, responsible kid capable of a lot more that we probably give her credit for. Something the aides at the library see in her more easily that we do. She is taking high school prep classes at ORLA this year and is doing really well.  She’s getting the chance to write a lot of argumentative essays which I’ve enjoyed witnessing - she’s got some skills and it won’t be long before I’ll be able to transfer this letter over to her.  She’s also continued to take piano lessons and earlier this year she participated in her first competition.  She didn’t win but she showed an amazing sense of confidence and ability to perform in a tense situation.  For me, the way she handled the prep and actual event impressed me more than her tickling of the ivories.  To have that skill at 13 is beautiful, I hope she never loses it and I also hope one day to have it myself.

Jade is also taking classes at ORLA this year, including a Latin America class, a cooking course and karate.  She seems to really be excelling at cooking.  Just the other night I was helping prep dinner and she offered to help; asking if I needed the pot on the stove stirred or whisked and then went on to explain the difference by way of example.  Being the novice I just deferred to her expertise. She’s continued with ballet this year which included a performance at the Washington Center for Performing Arts in spring.  She absolutely nailed it.  Just about anytime you watch a child production of anything there are always those kids who spend most of the time either 1.5 beats behind everyone else because the can’t quite remember everything and are looking at those around them for cues, or are just standing there awestruck.  Not Jade, she was in total command the whole time, confidently executing the whole routine, with the biggest smile on her face.  She was the one being watched.  The pure joy she felt just flowed from her, it was wonderful to watch. She moved up to the next level of classes this fall and is already annoyed that some of the girls aren’t taking it seriously enough.

Finn is also taking Latin America, P.E. and karate, which happen to be back-to-back, and yet he still comes home full of energy.  The good news he hasn’t learned enough in Karate to kick my butt yet, but I suspect my days of dominance are limited nonetheless.  He is also taking a class in cribbage and chess.  He was already pretty good at chess, but adding in some more skills isn’t good for either Christy or I.  Years ago I learned to play cribbage so I had a passing familiarity with it, but re-learning with him has been fun and it is just one more thing that he can enjoy beating his parents at, which I believe may be his greatest joy of all.  He’s developed a pretty strong interest in comics this year and I think he’s at this point checked out all of the comic collections from the library, some more than once.  We do have a little comic book store downtown that I’m guessing we’ll become regular patrons of soon enough.

Both Finn and Jade played baseball and soccer this year.  Baseball was a little funky this year as they had to combine two leagues in order to get enough teams, so a lot of the teams we played were filled with younger, less experienced kids, so that took away from the fun a little bit.  Soccer was interesting to watch.  Jade seemed to take a natural defensive position, hanging back towards the goal and setting up a last line of defense against the other team.  Whereas Finn would float around, seeing anytime that his foot touched the ball as an opportunity to score.

All three kids participated in Olympia Family Theatre's production of Pinocchio: Jade’s main role was Gepetto’s cat, Finn was a few different roles, and Ainsley was the Fox.  Finn and Jade also took part of a one week theater camp that ended in a showcase.  Once again Jade was on top of it, knowing all of the lines, cues and exuded happiness.  Finn was one of the watchers, but he said he had a good time.

In August we spent some time on Lopez Island with Christy’s family.  We had really nice weather and Jim brought along their boat, so the kids all got the chance to drive us around the San Juan Islands.  We explored a few different beaches, did a little line finishing and played frisbee.  The kids also spent a fair amount of time in the swimming pool, which allowed the adults time to sit around and relax.  In September the five of us, along with my parents, went to Maui for a week.  Again we had the good fortune of splendid weather and safe travels.  It was Finn and Jade’s first time on a plane, which is pretty brave of us really, we don’t know how that is going to go so we jump on a six hour flight.  It was like they’ve been doing it for years, handled it just great.  We snorkeled, attended a luau, got Hawaiian shirts, consumed a lot of shaved iced, and of course, spent a lot of time in the pool. Both Island trips were really nice and I cannot wait to do them again next year (hint…).

Christy continues to keep all this chaos in check with ease and elegance.  She’s been doing a lot more chauffeuring this year - she is looking forward to the next location of ORLA this coming spring as it will be within walking distance.  Despite how busy the kids keep her I think there is a small sense, from her perspective, that there is less to do.  The kids are able to get their own snacks and take care of each other a little more.  As a result she’s taken on the project of training Memphis.  She’s take about a dozen classes so far and continues to work with him.  There is some talk about eventually getting him to the point where he can do hospital visitations. He really likes people and loves getting loved up by others so there does seem to be a good fit there, but he’s got some work to do to get there.  I think Christy really likes the challenge.

I am getting ready to celebrate two years at Oracle, which is pretty hard to believe how quickly this time has gone by.  I still have a lot to learn but I’ve also been part of some pretty successful projects that have gained me some visibility.  Now that we are supporting global teams my meeting schedules are more complicated.  So far the craziest day was a meeting at 6AM and another at 8PM on the same day in order to accommodate all of the different time zones.  Luckily days like this are rare.  I’m challenged and have a sense of value, which might be the first time in my employment history.

I had a moment just a couple of weeks ago, when I was putting something away that one of the kids had left behind.  At first I was annoyed but then something clicked for me and I realized that the kids are really just masters of living in moment.  It isn’t that they are incapable of closing the drawer, putting the hair brush away, putting a lid back on the jar or making sure the q-tip (or all five q-tips) actually makes it into the garbage, they are just too consumed with the here and now, the current moment that they don’t think about and worry about all of the possible things that might happen in the future.  They don’t worry about *maybe* spilling the jar contents because the lid is loose, not being able to quickly find the brush the next time you need it or someone hitting their hip on the drawer left open.  That isn’t now, and those things might not happen.  No, they live right now, happy to be staring at their hairdo or enjoying the jelly sandwich.  When this finally occurred to me I became less annoyed and a little envious.  Their doing it right, I’m stuck in the future, the next, the “what ifs”.  Fretting over the state of my Roth IRA has its place, but it isn’t everyday, the worry about all of things that could happen robs me of the present and the inability to enjoy the jelly sandwhich.  I’ve missed moments, I can’t say which ones obviously but I know that I’ve missed them because I wasn’t present.  So with this new awareness I endeavor to learn from my kids and try to be more in the now and encourage everyone to do the same and savor the moment.

Best wishes for 2015, may your new year be full of peace, love and good happiness stuff.

Tony, Christy, Ainsley, Finley, and Jade

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