Another year has passed so quickly – even Paul now comments about time’s quick pace, “I can’t believe summer is already gone, dad!”
Sidd, Paul, Molly and I send our best wishes for a very Merry Christmas during this holiday season. As said in past years, we pray this note finds you safe, sound, healthy and happy. We have been blessed many times over with treasures, time and talents and the year has seen us continue to grow and change.
- Paul is 10 ½, Sidd is 9. Both are still sinewy, almost entirely muscle and bone (the consummate opposite of myself), but now taller, far stronger, and more physical in their sports and rough housing at home. Computers are an expanding presence in their lives, from gaming (like Minecraft), to game design (they took a 2 week computer game design course last summer that they loved), to reading (Nook), to homework - - Paul now uses Word and Excel for his science homework, Sidd watches Khan Academy.
- Molly completed a tour of duty as a Toastmasters “Area Governor,” - - mentoring a collection of Toastmasters clubs and earning the western Washington state “best of” award. What happens in 2013 – we shall see.
- I continue at Microsoft as the company goes thru a pivotal time with the world shifting away from PCs to mobile phones and tablets. As they say, what does not kill you will make you stronger, no? Two pursuits that consume me are a) guiding our boys’ amazing journey and b) taking photos, and writing about a photo’s related story. I cannot say I put enough time into deepening my skills in the latter – a gap I plan to address in 2013.
Observations from 2012:
1. Travel (for the fun of it) is an amazing gift.
- As a family, we meandered for >3 weeks to NYC, Atlanta, & So. Illinois; the journey was an exquisite & unique mix of family, friends, landmarks, museums, a fab wedding and food. I stepped out in the middle for work while we were in Atlanta, but for the others it was of no matter. No longer are Molly and I in the role of Sherpa, lugging baby paraphernalia; and the boys truly participate and enjoy the adventures.
- Now the boys and Molly are in India, which in part is possible due to the independence and help the 2 young gents now provide to the journey.
- Traveling on “off days” can bring its own good luck, not just b/c of the cost savings. Our SEA-JFK flight landed July 4 evening – as the plane made its approach, fireworks were soaring from surrounding townships – as if we were in the middle of a Felini movie.
- As important, family travelled to Seattle area. For example, Sidd’s 1st Holy Communion was the reason for the grandparents, aunts, uncles & cousins coming to town for a week stories and laughter, and an early birthday celebration for me.
2. The blessing of time is more apparent with each passing minute
- More than ever, my birthday really made me take notice of my age. (“What ? ? Have I really traversed MULTIPLE decades?)
- Any purposeful list of goals and desired experiences now seems an even better idea to clarify one’s compass.
- With age comes random maladies that can, well, stop you in your tracks. Any notions that it will happen “later” or to someone else are gone. All the more reason to moderate, and put the mind, body and soul through its paces.
3. Paul and Sidd are each other’s best friend, something I hope never sputters
- From ruminating about school & home, to cracking fart jokes, to walking to / from school, to playing MineCraft, they are each other’s “go to” guy.
- On the rare occasion where one is gone on an excursion, the other really feels the absence.
4. Book snobs start young
- I did not expect rigorous analysis of movies at this early age. But waves of shock and howls of dismay proved they were not sitting back while watching the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies. The term “movie adaptation” does not sit well with them.
- The 9 year old: “Dad, there are good surprises, and rip off surprises. The Hobbit movie is not like the book, it was a rip-off surprise.”
5. 2012 was a year of exploration and making choices
- Paul came home one fine day to say, “hey I can join the band so I want to learn the saxophone, it’s pretty cool.” Wow, no nudging to try out something the parents would have suggested? Perhaps the piano lessons were paying off?
- A week later, Sidd declared, “there’s a running club for the Seattle Children’s Marathon, and I told Mrs. Denney I want to join. Can you take me to school every Monday, Friday and Wednesday at 7:45 to go running?” Hard to say no.
- “I like this one,” said Paul as he fished a Fedora out of a pile of hats. It has been the source of hundreds of complements, from older couples in particular.
- For Molly and I? It is a similar question of what to do “next”.
6. Relationships, like anything that is alive, take careful nurturing
- I see it all around me and with myself: left untended, friendships and relationships take a lot of time & effort to get back on track; but when one makes real investments each day, the opposite is the case.
- The problem is akin to the proverbial story of a beaker of water slowly brought to boil, with a frog in it. One may not realize that things are slowly going out of whack. For example, all the happy distractions of a new baby take away time from the couple. To that end, And Baby Makes Three is a relevant read.
7. Five Sources of learning that were interesting for me:
- Younger Next Year - how do you make your 51st year fitter than 50, and so on each year? This book has simple guidance and illuminating commentary on how your body functions or malfunctions from inactivity.
- The Power of Habit – here’s an illuminating book on how we can change.
- The War of Art – a very brief book on taking action. A real kick in the pants.
- Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker - the audio book is riveting and thought provoking - particularly how he takes interview prep to new heights so as to gain trust in the first 15 seconds - the social engineering aspects are eye opening.
- I still get inspired by TED, Khan Academy, Wikipedia, Gates Notes, SuperBetter and of course, YouTube.
8. The power of forgotten keepsakes –
- In a drawer I found a cassette tape. Yeah, one of those “analog things” that has been culturally eradicated from the earth by the digital invasion. The contents: voicemails spanning from 3 weeks before, to two weeks after, our wedding. Remarkable after all those years: the voices are still unmistakable thumbprints of each owner. Perhaps it is the intersection of tone, accent, energy, phrasing. All the authors exude a great vitality and optimism.
We wish you and your loved ones a tremendous 2013. My hope is the same: may you explore, discover, develop and appreciate the treasures, talents and time that are right under your nose, and find remarkable ways to bring them to life. Do visit us while we are here (one never knows what the future holds, right?) – the great Northwest has so much to see and do.
Take care and God Bless You!
Sidd, Paul, Molly and Abe…