Happy Year of the Dragon
Despite being really busy at work, Liwen and Yvette have become somewhat better at reining in work hours. Liwen carved out time to volunteer for Sequoia’s field trips and class camping trip. He also found time to rekindle activities like climbing, mentoring, and judging moot court competitions, while taking some new roles such as joining the advisory board of the East Bay Community Law Center. He continues to work at Fenwick & West on some cool cases involving copyrights, trade secrets, and competitive intelligence, while also doing a substantial amount of pro bono work, especially in immigration matters.
Savio took his bold, hands-on attitude with him from daycare to his Montessori preschool, which he started in the spring. Always wanting to do things himself, he has started becoming more observant and more aware of the world beyond himself. He loves preschool, which  has given him lots of opportunities to explore while learning in a semi-structured environment. And he continues to love Music Together and singing on the bike to and from school. Savio has also been good at learning and navigating the general constraints of the real world: physics (maybe it’s not such a good idea to go on thin ice to reach a pine cone), parental expectations (hmm, I will get a reward if I don’t get my clothes wet everyday from splashing water all over myself) and sibling realities (wow, Sequoia gets upset when I break her stuff). Now that he’s 3, he has become a good hiker and is starting to appreciate the fun that can be found out in the world, especially when that fun involves rocks and water.
Savio stepping out and exploring at Mt. Tamalpais
Sequoia and Savio get along quite well...for the most part. They actually miss each other when they haven’t seen one another in a while. And they have become compatible travel companions, whether going camping or going on longer journeys, such as to Costa Rica, which we visited in August. They have gotten pretty good at sharing with each other and looking out for each others’ interests, especially when that means keeping each other safe from wild caimans with really sharp teeth.
Sequoia has become an entertaining and more confident girl, with lots of interests, lessons, and accomplishments during the past year. She has started skiing, ice skating, playing tennis with Dad, and riding her own bike to school. She overcame her trepidations to perform in the musical Seussical over the summer and to play in her first piano recital in the fall. Books, math and word games, and a snap-on circuit board kit have garnered her interest lately. But most of all, her sense of kindness has directed her toward a desire to work with animals, especially after we visited the Marine Mammal Center in Marin and volunteered at Proyecto Asis in Costa Rica (both animal rehab institutions).
Celebrating her tenth year at Alameda County Health Care Services Agency, Yvette has continued her focus on integrating health in multi-sector efforts. She also completed the coursework and now is en route to becoming certified as an Organization & Relationship Systems Coach with the goal of helping organizations work better together. Friends and family have kindly served as her guinea pigs and her efforts have deepened relationships and increased positivity. Yvette just returned from a professional tour of Havana’s health and education systems, which are rightfully famous for their effectiveness and focus on prevention, despite the constraints of the U.S. embargo on the Cuban economy.
We have become more comfortable with the change and excitement that accompanies our family’s growth together. We are certainly grateful that these changes, however uncertain, have mostly been positive. We are also thankful to have been able to connect with many of you during the past year, and we look forward to more time with friends and family over the coming year. May the Year of the Dragon bring you the change and opportunity you desire.
Savio, Sequoia, Liwen, and Yvette
At some point in parenting, if we’re lucky, the kids all of a sudden seem to blossom into greater independence, awareness, empathy, and curiosity. Happily, this also can create the opportunity for greater independence and metamorphosis for the parents. We feel fortunate that this past year has been a time of positive change for all of us, and we look forward to continuing that growth in the Year of the Dragon.
Sequoia preparing for 1st recital Savio being hands on Keeping each other safe from the caiman in the background Who needs a reason to laugh? Helping each other hold up an erratic boulder Riding in the shadow of the volcano at Arenal, Costa Rica Marine Mammal Center Enjoying last year’s snow aplenty Fan of Seussical 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.
But best of all, we got to spend time with each other exploring. In August, we went to Tortuguero, Costa Rica, to see the turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. We also visited the Arenal volcano region for some adventures in the rain forest. We then spent a few days going to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, where we got to play in trees and caverns, both immense. As the days grew shorter, we still managed some trips to usual spots such as Union Valley, Cody Lake, and Point Reyes. But most remarkable was Yosemite in December because of the lack of snowfall: lakes that ordinarily are inaccessible and covered with snow were available for once-in-a-lifetime skating.
Clockwise from top left: Tortuguero Caribbean color, Jesu Christo lizard, perezoso (sloth), boat-billed heron, Tico dishes, Savio volunteering at Proyecto Asis, mono cara blanca, two frogs doing their thing Sequoia learning to be useful Climbing near Olmstead Point Sequoia’s 1st trip 
to Sequoia N.P. Yosemite’s Olmsted Point in July Camping in Yosemite Skating on Tenaya Lake Rare snowless winter in Yosemite