Happy Year of the Sheep
This school year, Sequoia has a great fourth grade teacher whom she has known since kindergarten, when she had a fourth-grade buddy. She continues to read voraciously, consuming most of the Harry Potter books. Thanks to a great tutor, her conversational Mandarin has surpassed both her parents. Sequoia also got her ears pierced a few months ago, and now, her mom and she have a new shopping obsession... though her biggest obsession is doing pull ups on the kitchen chin-up bar. Sequoia has continued gymnastics and improved her skiing ability and confidence, going down steeper slopes with little apprehension.

In her second year of consulting, Yvette continues to find her work gratifying—supporting public and nonprofit organizations to create real systems change through stronger collaborations and strategy development. But she is definitely tired of business development. Please spread the word and check out her revised website (wisechange.org) when it will hopefully be complete in April. In her spare time, Yvette is active with several social justice organizations—UNtraining, a facilitator training program focused on unlearning racism, UC Berkeley’s Isms Collaborative, and the Seva Foundation, an international NGO with the goal to end avoidable blindness (a tribute to her mother). Busy and sometimes torn between her work and life as a mom, Yvette continues to go to sleep only in the wee hours of the night. But she definitely appreciates having the flexibility and life balance to volunteer almost weekly at the elementary school and to create her first (and probably last) parade banner for Savio’s T-ball team. She and Sequoia also took up running since this fall as part of their extracurricular afternoon time together. Her latest obsession besides piano is finally reading the fiction she put aside for years.
Liwen finally made it up Snake Dike on the shoulder of Half Dome, thanks to some excellent leading from his partner Beko. Yvette, Beko, and Liwen tried over ten years ago but had to bail because of suspect weather and a late start. This time it was a perfect day, especially since it was a workday for everyone else.
He has also enjoyed helping with science in Savio’s class, especially the lessons on bubbles. Liwen is still at Fenwick & West, where the variety of topics is fascinating; in one recent week, he was dealing with issues involving cancer drugs, first-person shooter video games, immigration, and land conservation. He is looking forward to an upcoming conference in Louisiana, where he will be speaking about race and professional norms.
The zodiac animal for this year is, depending on your point of view, a sheep, ram, goat, or GOAT (greatest of all time). To the Chinese, the distinction is mostly immaterial. The various avatars are really one, in harmony and peace. As we see our family members and friends grow as their own persons, that individuality is not necessarily in conflict with the harmony of the whole. To the contrary, our individual growth and difference spurs our appreciation for one another. We wish you all a year of growth that is in harmony with all of us who love you.
Savio, Sequoia, Liwen, and Yvette
All about that piano Savio, all about that bass Apple strudel and caramel apples with Grandmum at Apple Hill               Dewey Point after a rare Yosemite snowfall Feeling (Lake) Superior
If we made a movie about the last year, Sequoia and Savio would do the soundtrack. The radio often gets mysteriously switched from Radio Paradise to some commercial-laden pop station. The good news is we now know well the names of the artists and accompanying dance videos whose songs our 9-year-old sings all the time.
But overall, musically it has been a fun year. The kids (and now Yvette) have continued taking piano lessons, and we somehow found room in our small Albany house to install an upright piano. We now compete for playing time, hashing out renditions of pop tunes from Pachelbel, Bill Withers, Vienna Teng, Beethoven, Jon Brion, Bach, and Jay Ungar. Thankfully, we put double-pane windows in that room so the neighbors won’t complain.
Later in the summer, we continued our recent theme of exploring obscure parts of our United States. We spent several days on a lake in Oxford, Michigan, where our gracious hosts Peng and Ruth taught us about Vernors ginger ale, bluegills, and Michigan Mexican cuisine. We then went hunting for some Yoopers and drove the length of the Upper Peninsula. Everyone got to experience the magic of what Yvette experienced while banding loons and sandhill cranes when she was an intern at the Seney National Wildlife Refuge back in her freshman year in college. These species, along with trumpeter swans, have made a modest comeback in the area after people wiped them out. Being able to watch them was well worth our encounters with mosquitoes, severe lightning storms, and pasties. 
We then explored the crowded metropolis of Iron River (fewer people than Lowell High School) with our friends, Betty and Michelle. This past summer, the kids also embarked on their first backpacking trip. Unfortunately, with the elevation, the distance was a bit much and the parents ended up with Sequoia’s backpack for part of the way.
In June, we went with Yvette’s side of the family to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to celebrate Gung Gung’s (Yvette’s dad’s) 80th birthday. The menudo was fabulous, but most of all, we simply enjoyed being able to share a wonderful occasion with the entire clan, including several aunties and uncles who traveled from Hong Kong.
Finally got the kids out of the pool for pictures with Gung Gung and Po Po Cousin Annalise snorkeling with Sequoia at Banderas Bay Miners Falls, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Takeover of Fort Michilimackinac Precious metal: braces!
Savio has been thriving in the first grade with teacher Sam. He is becoming a great artist and wrote and drew his very own Captain Underpants comic book after reading that author Dav Pilkey created his first comic book when he was a kid. He is learning to read and loves to record his voice while reading on Razkids. As for obsessions, Savio most enjoys bathroom humor, talking about inappropriate body parts while in polite company, and becoming a master Lego builder. He continues to love all sports, watching Cal football and basketball and playing a great first season in T-ball.
Hitting for the River Cats A fine Monday commute.