Family


15
Jun 12

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Yesterday, Kathy & I brought home our new baby boy, ZBL. He was born on Tuesday at Stanford Hospital — he and Kathy are both doing super well, and SPL is excited to be a big brother.

What I wanted to write about this morning is optimism. The act of bringing home a new baby is such an incredible act of optimism. It’s just impossible not to look at everything with new eyes and to see potential everywhere.

As I get to know Z, I find that just talking to him, telling him about all the things that he’ll learn about and interact with and make — it fills me with a spirit of possibility.

Raising kids is challenging, no doubt about it. And there are days which can be pretty long.

But we get so many things from our kids, and like it did with his big brother, it’s amazing to me how much Z coming into the world has already given me, how much it’s broadened my perspective, and how he’s already helping me see so much optimism and possibility in the world.


29
Oct 11

Quiet Fall Morning

Last week in New York I got to attend a fun dinner party — about 16 folks, very diverse in terms of work, politics, interests, etc — all incredibly accomplished in their own fields. One of the things we talked about is this: “If you could be anywhere, where would it be?” Lots of answers — in the Alps. on a boat, on the beach, etc. When it came around to me, though, I gave a pretty boring answer: honestly, I mostly like being at home with my family, with time to spend with them.

This morning is perfect that way. A little autumn briskness in the air, beautiful clear day, and nothing much to do except pad around the house, take care of things that need taking care of, and be together. It’s great to be busy (and we are busy, starting around lunchtime), but sort of magic to start the day with family and no real commitments. And nice especially because it was Kathy & my 11th wedding anniversary yesterday. (And incredibly, we’ve known each other more than 26 years now. Doesn’t seem like there was ever a time when we didn’t.)

So we’ve got music on shuffle and on comes Simon & Garfunkel — a little old school, but still amazing. “Kathy’s Song” came on — one of my favorite songs of all time. And reminded me a lot of my favorite blog post that I’ve ever written. ­čÖé

Anyway, for me Halloween always marks a transition into the part of the year that’s a headlong rush through Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year — love the season, but it’s a bit of a sprint from here.

Nice to get ready for it with a quiet morning together.


10
Sep 11

R.I.P.

Right at the moment, Kathy’s away, attending the funeral of a close family friend of ours — someone she’s known since college, and someone I’ve gotten to know a bit over the years, although she was much closer to him.

It’s tragic to lose him — he was just 45, was an amazing husband and father and friend and practically an uncle to SPL. Tragic that he left behind an amazing wife and 6 year old daughter. And made more tragic because he died at his own hand, after suffering from depression.

Kathy & I have really been struggling with it as everything’s unfolded this week — not even in the same universe as how the family’s affected, of course, but it’s caused a lot of soul searching and emotionally tough time.

There are so many different aspects, each of which seems too gigantic to really get a handle on. How to understand it in the context of his life? How to help his wife and daughter? How to talk about it with SPL, who loved him so much? And how to think about it all in the context of our own lives?

I think not too many of those questions are answerable quickly, or maybe at all, really. For myself, I have 3 main things I’m thinking about while Kathy’s at the memorial, celebrating his life.

1. Life can change profoundly for us in the space of a day, or an hour or a minute. Need to pay attention to now, need to enjoy those around us.

2. It’s an amazing thing to be with friends during a time of extreme emotional distress — it’s obviously so, so hard, but it’s also an opportunity for profound grace and dignity to show through, and that’s what’s manifestly evident this week with his wife and daughter. Such grace and strength in the face of so much uncertainty ahead.

But mostly, we’ll miss him and the influence he had on everyone around him. He was always so generous, so engaged, so happy to share time and joy. Kathy & SPL especially loved spending time with him and his family so much.


10
Sep 11

Play Structures Fix All Things

Today will not go down in history as one of the most amazing games of U7 AYSO ever.

It was our first game of the season, and since we have an uneven number of teams in the league, we had a bye week – so we traveled to another nearby region to scrimmage their bye team, too.

We went to the wrong field, as did all the other parents, so we had about half the boys show up. They play by different rules (bigger goals, goalies, 5×5, instead of small goals, no keepers, 4×4). We were all late. No referee, first game of the season, and some emotional reactions to getting scored on by some bigger kids on the other side. And really no subs for our squad, which made for a pretty long 40 minutes.

First half was tough; second half was a lot better, and the boys really worked hard at getting better — the effort and focus showed; I was very proud of all of them. Some were a little discouraged at the end, but the snack and talking for a few minutes about what each of us did really well and the effort we gave helped a bunch.

But then everyone was off to the play structure and was happy. Best thing about traveling to a new region/school/playground is the novelty of their play structure.

Just a simple, Saturday morning reminder that lots of things don’t go like you want them to, lots of situations spin out of control from the start. But it’s all good if you get out and try your best, learn something, and get a little time with your friends on the play structure at the end.

Also, it’s a humbling thing to try to coach 10 6 year olds. Seems like such a small, constrained set of things to think about — not many kids on the field, not too much action at one time, no real strategy. But I’ll tell you: the games and practices seem to fly right by — it’s so much to pay attention to all happening at once — trying to nudge so many kids in the right direction, while they’re all learning so incredibly fast. It’s an amazing thing — always feels pretty chaotic, but also deeply rewarding.


5
Sep 11

The Bittersweetness of Parenting

It’s been a busy summer for us, one full of change, and I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but just haven’t had the time to sit down until today. WARNING! it’s a bit saccharine on the topic of being a parent. Beware. ­čÖé

It’s about the bittersweetness and ephemeral nature of being a parent — the overwhelming feeling that I’ve had ever since SPL was born is happiness mixed with an acute awareness of how quickly time moves, how quickly SPL is changing and growing and developing.

It seems to me that the essential nature of being a parent is building and creating, and then always letting go. Letting go of the kid that lived in your house yesterday, accepting that they’ve changed and are becoming the person they’ll be tomorrow. It’s been hard for me to explain to people without kids; it’s been universally & immediately understood by my friends with kids.

I’ll talk about it here in the context of our trip to Disneyland this summer.

Now, it’s easy to be cynical about The Walt Disney Company and the various parks and properties that they run — and I’m often cynical myself about them. But I have to say that I really love going to Disney World and Disneyland — I always have — and I really, really love going with Kathy & SPL. I love being there, I love exploring with them, and none of the machinery of manipulation of the place really bothers me all that much.

This year, with SPL being 6, was a fun mix of wanting to venture out on his own and wanting to hug tight to Kathy and me. It felt like we’re crossing a line towards more and more independence.

So here’s a story in 4 pictures.

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Above and beyond everything else, the trip is a time that the three of us get concentrated, dedicated time with not much to worry about other than just being a family.

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One of the best parts about an experience like this is the combination of familiar and completely new things to experience together. Above is a picture of SPL & me watching one of the parades, talking about what we saw together, processing it together.

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At just 6 years old, SPL still gets excited by the characters, loves hugs and holding close. We didn’t get too many pictures of it, but lots of times SPL grabbed onto Kathy and me — he’s still small enough that he wants the safety of his parents, and isn’t really 100% ready to take on the experiences by himself.

Still, my favorite picture of the trip this year is this one:

free.jpg

It’s on one of the smaller roller coasters in the park — in Toon Town, and this was the very first time he was able to ride the coaster by himself (I was in the seat behind, obviously).

I just love this picture because it represents so much about the way SPL is beginning to engage with the world now — in an “arms up, even though it’s a little scary for me” mode.

And as hard as it is when on the 2nd day of kindergarten he shoos you out of the room or runs away from you across the playground — and it is hard, and emotional — again, tough to describe to anyone without kids.

As hard as that feeling is to experience, it’s also exactly, exactly the thing you want for your child. An eagerness to engage with the new, to run unafraid towards the unknown.

So for me, that’s the essential quality of being a parent. Spending endless hours building and caring, and then just letting go and watching. The wisest thing anyone’s said to me since SPL was born is this: “The days are long, but the years are short.” That seems awfully right to me, and sort of wonderful, too.