With 2017 fast approaching, I think it’s time to check the rear-view mirror for one final glimpse of the year that has passed. As is our tradition, we rang in the New Year under a starry sky in the depths of Death Valley National Park. We took day trips to explore the salt pan at Badwater and the lush labyrinth of Darwin Canyon. Some day, these kids are going to figure out that other families don’t drive to the middle of nowhere to celebrate the New Year in the cold and inky black of the desert night. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. Later in the year, we logged two more camping trips to The Presidio (3 minutes from home) and Pinecrest Lake (3 hours from home). And with respectable Sierra snowpack, there were two ski trips to Kirkwood and Alpine Meadows. With both kids in ski school, Jody and I were finally able to ski together for the first time in too many years.
The highlights of the travel calendar came in the spring and summer. In April, we surprised the kids with a trip to LA where we got to watch our favorite show (BattleBots) being taped and doubled the surprise with a day-trip to Disneyland. In June, we made good on a promise to return to Italy and took a two week trip with the whole family to Tuscany, Rome and Sorrento. The kids are becoming more capable travelers, aided no doubt by the promise of gelato and ample pool time.
Our little man Carson bid a fond farewell to his pre-school homies from the Builders’ Workshop at 150 Parker School. He spent his summer days building forts at Camp Doodle and working through the wobbles with his sister at bike camp. After three years of drop-off duty, it was finally Carson’s turn to line-up for morning pledges and become a Lafayette Dolphin. Having both kids at the same school has been a game-changer for our family, and Carson loves his kindergarten class. He joined his friends on the pitch at Marina Green for his first season of soccer and has made it to the final stage of his swimming class.
In March, Carson and Dad packed the car for an epic seaside adventure. We started our weekend touring the historic ships at the Hyde Street Pier. Heading south, we hiked along Devil’s Slide and tiptoed through the tidepools at Moss Beach. We spent two nights “camping” at Costanoa, checked out the otters and jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and stopped by Pigeon Point Lighthouse to round out the weekend.
Carson still loves building with Lego and we keep him well-stocked on cardboard and masking tape. He’s quick with a smile (and sometimes tears) and enjoys knocking-out a hasty set of push-ups to impress the ladies.
Career Aspiration: Home Builder
Favorite Gelato: Arancia (orange)
The little lady of the house is growing every day and in every way. She spent a lot of time with her nose buried in books this year, flipping through the adventures of Ivy & Bean, Clementine and the Babysitters Club. Like her brother, she has an affinity for building blanket forts and sand castles. She’s become a pretty good helper in the kitchen and always seems to be working some angle for more dessert.
Autumn continues to play soccer in the spring and fall with SF Sol soccer club, and has become a capable (if somewhat distracted) defender. She is gaining confidence on the ski hill and graduated from La Petite Baleen swimming school in the fall. She spent most of her summer at the de Young Museum summer camp, making time with her first love: art. Autumn moved upstairs with the rest of the big kids at Lafayette Elementary this fall. And while the third grade brings new challenges (multiplication!), she enjoys their regular field trips and lessons from Art in Action, which are taught by her mama.
Career Aspiration: Artist or Architect
Favorite Gelato: Limone (lemon)
Earlier this year, Jody’s grandmother, Natalie Salsig, passed away at the age of 95. Jody was close with her Grandma, having lived with her for a period during her childhood and again as fresh college grad. While her passing was tough for the family, they took time to celebrate a life well-lived and a legacy that will carry on for generations to come.
Jody clocked many hours on the ice working toward her pre-bronze skating test, which she passed in May. And while she enjoys her time on the ice, she decided to give it a rest for the time being. Seeking some new way to challenge herself physically, she discovered the pleasure and pain of barre class and makes time to get to the studio a couple times each week. She continues to take on evermore challenging sewing projects, completing several dresses for herself and concept-to-completion halloween costumes for both kids.
Jody and Kristin celebrated five years of PritchardPeck Lighting with a well-lit client party at their new digs on Market Street. In October they flew south of the border to deliver a presentation at the IALD Enlighten conference and took a few extra days to refine their plans for complete domination of the lighting world.
Transcendent Moment: floating in the ocean beneath a full moon in Mexico
Favorite Gelato: Cocco (coconut), Cioccolato (chocolate)
This summer I celebrated my 40th birthday surrounded by family and friends at a party in Golden Gate Park. Jody and I stole away a few weeks later to Napa for a relaxing weekend and once-in-a-lifetime dinner at The Restaurant at Meadowood. I’m staring down my fifth decade on this planet and feeling pretty good about where I’m at. I can’t say that every day is a highlight reel of epic accomplishments, but I post enough wins at work and at home to keep the arc of my smile bending in the right direction.
I continue to love cooking for the family and friends. Whether it’s school day lunches for the kids, sous vide steaks for dinner, or dutch oven biscuits in the backcountry, it continues to challenge me in the best way possible. I continue to log plenty of miles on the bike (1,500 this year), and started focusing more intently on my health as a remedy for too many hours behind a desk and too many “anything-in-a-breadbowl” lunches around my office. I look forward to more time in the shop and behind the lens focusing on creative projects in the new year.
Favorite Concert: Metallica at AT&T Park with Scott
Favorite Gelato: Cioccolato Fondente (dark chocolate), Stracciatella (chocolate chip)
I’m writing this post on December 27th, the day before we leave for our annual pilgrimage to Death Valley. I push myself to write this post every year, usually while Jody is frantically packing for our trip. Maybe it’s a silly tradition, but it helps me bring closure to the year that has passed and open a new page for the year in front of us. With that, we invite all of you to be part of our lives and our memories in the year to come. No matter how often (or seldom) we see you, we miss your faces and voices and hope this new year brings us closer together. Peace be with you and your loved ones, this season and always.
Matt, Jody, Autumn & Carson
San Francisco, CA