Happy Year 
of the Monkey
Now in 5th grade, Sequoia has sprouted to the point that she is borrowing more of Yvette’s clothes and shoes. In addition to her continuous reading and listening to endless pop songs, she has been devoting much of her time to 4-H. She has enjoyed learning about rabbits, chickens, ducks, and baking (no, not baking rabbits, chickens, or ducks). Sequoia’s culinary artistry has blossomed to the point that she will surprise us with fancy breakfasts now and then.  Her creativity shined as she participated in several art and writing camps during the summer or after school. Most of all, we love her enthusiasm, generous spirit, and cheerful ability to wake us all up in the morning.

In her third year of consulting, Yvette is finally finding her groove, balancing her time as mom, daughter and providing technical assistance to health and human services agencies and nonprofits. She finds coaching her individual clients most gratifying and is excited to launch an executive coaching series for nonprofit leaders of color that combines leadership development with UNtraining.
This fall, her parents celebrated their 81st and 80th birthdays. We all celebrated at a weekend family reunion in Monterey, where we rode horses and roasted s’mores. We also shared heartfelt memories as we stuffed ourselves with a dinner at some fancy schmancy place overlooking the green golf pastures at Pebble Beach. Yvette has been enjoying her now twice-weekly dates with her parents since her dad’s stroke in October. While there is much sadness in the realization that our parents are becoming fragile and that we are the sandwich generation, Yvette is grateful for her patient hubster/family and more flexible schedule to take her parents to myriad doctor appointments. When she’s lucky, she finds time to just hang out with her parents and talk family psychology.
At Fenwick & West, Liwen is still enjoying the never-ending novelty of high-tech legal issues. In addition, he gave two talks in Louisiana on race and professional norms in the legal profession, a topic that he will continue to address at other conferences this year. He has also provided lots of pro bono support in conservation this year, addressing subjects such as fisheries, watershed management, and sharing of environmental data. After work, he spent countless nights trying to play Satie’s Gnosiennes on piano, while his new project is the music from Amelie.
In December, Liwen and the kids went with grandma to explore the cacti in the Arizona desert for a few days before returning for our traditional Kwanzaa trip to Yosemite, which at last had an abundance of fluffy snow after years of drought.
Curiosity, cleverness, and mischief typify Monkeys, so 2016 is bound to be an exciting year in one way or another. As parents, we’ve learned that mischief and chaos are sometimes just an opportunity to realize the limits of our control over life. A monkey wrench thrown in the works is still just a tool for something else. A tool to teach us that peace is not always the absence of disorder, but rather the acceptance of it. Whatever excitement 2016 may bring, may the year bring us all an appreciation of it.
Savio, Sequoia, Liwen, and Yvette
Biking the Anchorage Coastal Trail under the flight path Iao Valley forest Yvette’s Kombucha brew               Celebrating 80th and 81st birthdays one week after Gung Gung’s stroke Shave ice at Ululani
Much of 2015 for us was in the wild, as we sought out all sorts of flora and fauna in the 49th and 50th states (as well as in Adventureland during a surprise trip to Anaheim). In an age when humans vastly outnumber most other large animals on the planet, being able to witness wildlife in their own habitats and on their own terms is increasingly precious.
On Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, we braved camping in the rain and enjoyed outstanding vistas everywhere. The rapid recession of the glaciers in the 15 years since we were last there was alarming, but we were pleased that the bears, eagles, and spawning salmon were as plentiful as we remembered. We especially enjoyed showing the kids how much devotion and commitment the exhausted and bruised parent salmon gave to their offspring regardless of whether the next generation appreciated it or not.
From the 49th state, we journeyed to Maui to dry out our gear and hang up our pants and parkas for a while. Hawaiians are friendly, of course, but even they look at you quizzically if you show up in down coats. We did in fact appreciate our cold-weather gear on visits to the cloud forests and 10,000-foot Haleakala. 
Clockwise from top left: Big bear paws; Small human paw and big Devil’s Club leaf; Below the Harding Ice Field; Going on a bear hunt; Skilak skyline; Kenai Fjords tidal glacier; Painting at Exit Glacier; Fall comes early. Middle: Typical Kenai weather. Shakas on Haleakala at sunset Sardines not in Monterey A kind chick handler
Savio has been growing and learning to be a good helper. His second grade teacher had the students begin the year by building their own desks. This was right up Savio’s alley, since he is constantly building this or that, with Legos, blocks, paper or any other construction material. Savio is a dynamo who can’t stop playing basketball, football, or baseball, even in the house. Fortunately his aim is usually good enough not to break any windows. He is looking forward to his first season of real-pitch baseball this spring. His skiing has also improved enough this El Niño year to allow him to tag along with Sequoia on their own without parents in tow.
Catching for the Hot Rods Mummy, daddy, et al. Finally snow in the Sierras Trying wild guava Cousin Annalise, Sequoia, and Harry Otter in Monterey Wild life during Sequoia’s birthday camping trip