Season’s Greetings!

This has been a year of transformation for our family.  All four kids are at the same elementary school – one drop off and by 8:15am the house is quiet.  The kitchen, which used to look like the set of Iron Chef at any given time of day, is now my oasis by 8:30am.  We remodeled our house this summer – adding a bathroom to our guest room, changing our downstairs bathroom into a powder room and the shower into a wine room, adding French doors from the kitchen to the backyard and hardwood floors throughout the house.  The process was difficult, but the results were worth it.

Jeffrey is 10 ½, in 5th grade and signs of the future teenager abound.  Breakfast is accompanied by the electric guitar.  John Mayer, Lenny Kravitz, Santana and various jazz and blues music serenade us at 7am.  I’ll take this over Barney and The Wiggles any day.  John and Jeffrey attended a popular “birds and bees” seminar for boys and dads at Stanford Hospital.  Jeffrey was nervous about attending, but when I told him that I heard they start off by asking the boys how many different words they know for their “private part”, he smiled and rattled off 5 immediately.  I was more worried about John’s potentially excessive participation level.  When Jeffrey is not asking Eva to sing the words to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band as he plays, Jeffrey can be found on the golf course, baseball field or basketball court.

Eva is 8 ½, in 3rd grade and busy with friends, singing, reading and sports.  For Eva, singing and dancing seem just as important to her well being as breathing.  Now she has found a way to express her poetic heart not just in song, but in her writing.  She writes in the same manner as she talks – openly, confidently and without fear.  Let’s hope this stays with her for the rest of her life!  Eva still plays soccer, basketball and softball, but the evolutionary trait to gather and socialize seems more the motivation for participation than the instinctive need to hunt and compete.  The biggest change I see in Eva this year has been a shift in focus from activities and interests to friends and events.  We all know where this tween transformation is leading to – John’s deepest fear: the teenage girl.  For both Eva and Jeffrey, this year has been like a shaken up snow globe with their future selves slowing emerging through the falling snow.  Although it has been fascinating to observe, the realization that they are little no more makes me desperately and constantly shake the snow globe.

Marena and Vivian are 5 ½, in kindergarten and very excited to be at the same school as their siblings.  They are in separate classrooms; and because they do not have each other to rely on, their distinct personalities are emerging.  Vivian is sweet, bubbly and affectionate.  Marena is funny, carefree and fun-loving.  At Back to School Night, each child wrote a card to their parents.  Vivian’s had rainbows, stars, glitter and hearts.  The front of Marena’s card said “Mom, Dad, guess what?”  The inside said “Chicken Butt!!” and a drawing of what I assumed was a chicken.  They are getting used to their separateness, but at times their reliance on each other is significant.  One day, Marena and I dropped Vivian off at an activity that only she was participating in.  On the way home, I heard Marena say “Vivian, did you see… oh… I forgot.”  She forgot that Vivian was not in the car! J  Although it is hard for some people to tell the girls apart, it is hard for any of us to imagine not knowing who is who.  One night Vivian was lying in bed and she turned her face towards me and smiled.  I said “Vivian, you looked just like Marena when you smiled like that!”  She loved that – confirmation that they are separate and unique, but intimately tied to each other.

I have continued to volunteer at the kids’ school and in the community, but have been able to do more for myself – yeehaw!  I took the season off from field hockey so I could work on my golf game.  Jeffrey, Eva, John and I now have a lot of fun playing together.  I started weight training, spinning and running.  I have not been able to run more than a mile without knee pain since high school.  I worked hard at gradually running longer (gradual is hard for me to do).  Now I can run 7 miles, which I credit to the playlist on my iPod.  It feels great to have some time for myself!

John has enjoyed much more time with the kids this year; and we’ve had so much fun as a family.  John managed our remodel, which became nearly a full-time job for 6 months.  We began the project last summer with the architectural plans, started construction in February of this year, and finished last month.  Of course, there are still some outstanding punch list items!  With the remodel finished, John has gotten very busy, very fast with consulting, angel investing and looking at new opportunities.  He serves on several Boards – both for-profit companies and non-profits.  John helped start up the Youth Committee at our country club, and serves as its chairperson.  John is enjoying the kids growing older.  He particularly likes attending the sex education classes with Jeffrey.  John is an active participant in class discussions, and is learning many new things.  (** John wrote his own section**)

So, on with the holiday festivities!  I sit writing this in bed recovering from pneumonia.  I have missed holiday parties, holiday ballets and kids’ tea parties.  But, my Christmas shopping is done thanks to Cyber Monday, the house is decorated and we strung popcorn for our Christmas tree.  Eva said this is the best Christmas ever!  Who knew pneumonia could be so good!

We wish you all a festive holiday season; and if life is going by too fast for you, just shake your snow globe.


Eva, Marena, May, Vivian, John, Jeffrey (the correct order of names for the picture – we were just testing you)

Jeffrey, 10 years old

Eva, 8 years old

Marena, 5 years old

Vivian, 5 years old