Happy Year of the Cat 
(or Rabbit) Which are they?
Yvette faced her own trials and tribulations, juggling motherhood with a more-than-full-time work schedule. Still at Alameda County Health Care Services Agency, she delved into a new world of juvenile justice and workforce development as she crafted the county’s juvenile reentry blueprint. Her focus of late has been putting “prevention” back into delinquency prevention and keeping Savio and Sequoia out of an institution. Yvette has continued to preserve her own mental health by staying committed to her yoga practice and by recently taking classical guitar lessons.
Last year took off with a roar, as Liwen was just about devoured by a major copyright trial in the spring. It was one of those efforts where after a few months, it seems normal to work until 5 in the morning, close eyes, take kids to school, and begin working again. Although the experience was both intellectually stimulating and invaluable professionally, Li is not eager to accumulate 80% of his annual billable hours in 6 months again. Fortunately, he was still sometimes able to take the kids to music/dance classes and see Yvette at the occasional basketball game at Cal, which won its first conference title since 1960, just after Li’s dad was at Cal.
Rare Berkeley confetti for something other than a Nobel Prize, new patent, or rugby championship.
Sequoia and Savio have been wonderful siblings. Sequoia has been impressively kind, patient, and generous even when Savio is in one of his most “developmentally appropriate” terrible-two moods.  But of course Sequoia emphasizes to her little brother on occasion that he is not the center of the universe and cannot play with her handbags and accessories or mutilate her artwork whenever he feels like it.
For his part, Savio has increasingly appreciated Sequoia’s attention and affection. Though he is perhaps more serious by nature, it’s not uncommon to see him start singing, dancing, and laughing with the enthusiasm and energy he sees exhibited by his older sister. And there is little question that Savio has picked up much of his verbal skill from her and her love for books. Just as Sequoia did, he has loved his Music Together classes and his daycare, and in a few months he will be starting at Sequoia’s former preschool. But it is clear that he also has his own interests, including broccoli, tractors, towers, puddles, balls, and holding sardines for long periods in his hand.
As summer arrived, we were fortunate to be able to travel to Belize’s tropical forests and coral reefs with the family of Sequoia’s preschool classmate. We deliberately chose to stay on a slow-paced caye with no paved streets or cars (though it surprisingly was cosmopolitan enough to feature multiple Chinese restaurants and the Miss Lobsterfest pageant). We did not deliberately choose to visit during Hurricane Alex, which canceled the end of the Lobsterfest and made us wary of flying coconuts. Nevertheless, patience and providence rewarded us with good weather to see the manatees, sharks, rays, jaguars, and turtles that remind us that the world is not just about us. We all felt like kids experiencing so many new things: listening to kriol, looking at Mayan observatories, tubing through riparian caves (with Savio asleep on Li the entire time), and eating some surprisingly minty termites.
In the midst of day-to-day nuttiness, nothing sustains us more than good thoughts of friends and family and gratitude for the life we have. We are honored by your love and friendship, and we hope that the new year, whatever you want it to be, brings you the blessings you deserve.
Savio, Sequoia, Liwen, and Yvette
Snowfall in Yosemite
We begin the year in a bit of a quandary: is it the Year of the Rabbit as the Chinese calendar says, or the Year of the Cat as the Vietnamese calendar says? Either is likely to be less tumultuous than the just ended Year of the Tiger, which had moments of us feeling just one step from being eaten alive. As we start a new year, we simply are grateful to have survived and, as always, to have the good fortune of treasured friends and family.
Sequoia in her áo dài Savio celebrating Tết Ready for the commute Who needs a reason to laugh? Shoveling corn at State Fair Harmonica harmony True sibling moment Sun before the storm One last drink before the storm Eye of the storm Clockwise from top left: Predator; Savio’s sardine, courtesy of guide Frenchie, Azure vase sponge and fan; Altun Ha; Little man and mangrove; Sequoia looking for tortugas; Nurse shark; Conch boat; Christmas tree worm on coral. Center: Moon and coconut.
Back in California, we dried off in the summer sunshine. With Li’s longtime climbing partner, Nat, we headed to Yosemite to climb with cousin Lorenzo, cousins Katie and Brandon, and Grandmum. Grandmum (who was a big help during the spring) took Sequoia to Disneyland as a special treat.
And we of course pulled out the tent to let the kids see the stars in the Sierras and on the coast before Sequoia began kindergarten (since which time she has really been blossoming, learning to ride a bike, ski, play piano, and write her own thank you notes).
But most of all we were thrilled just to be able to finally spend time with family and friends and to watch Savio and Sequoia grow.
Climbing real granite in Yosemite and climbing unreal granite one week later at Disneyland. Can you tell which is which? Celebrating Uncle Damon’s birthday with Grandmum Celebrating cousin Annalise’s birthday with Gung Gung and Paw Paw