Twenty Sixteen: The Year in Review

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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.

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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.

Carson at the Colosseum

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 at Kirkwood

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)

Autumn

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.

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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.

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Career Aspiration: Artist or Architect
Favorite Gelato: Limone (lemon)

Jody

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.

Autumn and Jody Chairlift

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.

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Transcendent Moment: floating in the ocean beneath a full moon in Mexico
Favorite Gelato: Cocco (coconut), Cioccolato (chocolate)

Matt

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.

Go Giants!

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.

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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

Twenty Fifteen: The Year in Review

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Before 2016 kicks down the front door and makes himself comfortable, let’s take a look back on the year that has passed in this Pritchard Life. Knowing no better way to reflect on the days of auld lang syne, we welcomed the new year from our fortress of desert solitude: Death Valley National Park. For a taste of something new, we visited the northern reaches of the park, camping at Mesquite Flat and taking day trips to Ubehebe Crater and Scotty’s Castle. A couple of days in, the weather went from bad to ugly and we made a hasty exit, leaving that desert tempest in the rear view mirror.

In October we found a few days to escape to Yosemite. It had been about 3 years, and while the waterfalls (and everything else) were dry, we enjoyed some beautiful weather and tackled our first (minor) summit as a family. Lembert Dome in Tuolumne Meadows rewarded our effort with incredible views of the Yosemite high country and a first summit for the kids. On the same trip, the kids earned their Junior Ranger badges and we made our first fireside pizza in a new dutch oven that we’ve affectionately named The Crusty Dutchman.

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The marquee adventure in 2015 was certainly our trip to the Canadian Rockies, where we visited Banff and Jasper National Parks, along with Golden, BC. After a week of camping, hiking and relaxing, we boarded the plane home with plans for at least two return trips: a winter trip to sample the epic powder of the region and another trip to venture further afield and experience the backcountry of the region.

And sometimes an amazing experience is just outside your front door. During a sunny day in early October (AKA: SF Summer), we were splashing and swimming at China Beach and were suddenly joined by a huge pod of dolphins just off shore. A month later, while snacking on Arizmendi pastries at Lands End, a pod of humpback whales put on a show for us around Mile Rocks Lighthouse. We logged these events as reasons #437 and #438 why we live where we do.

Carson

After four memorable years (with both kids) at Presidio Preschool, we went on the hunt for Transitional Kindergarden program for Carson. We were fortunate to find a spot at 150 Parker Avenue School. While touring, we were smitten when we saw the Dirt Kitchen and designated wrestling area. Carson has made fast friends and is thriving in a program that lets him explore his curiosities.

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At home, his obsession with Lego, robots and anything with wheels shows no sign of waning. In May, we gathered all the Pritchard men together for a trip to Monster Jam, where Carson and his big cousin Rowan got to see what [horsepower + massive wheels + huge air] looks like. It looks awesome.

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Favorite Movie: The Iron Giant
Favorite Breakfast Food: Waffles and Chocolate Croissants

Autumn

Our super silly, super serious girl Autumn just keeps growing up, despite our best efforts. In the spring she made her off-off-Broadway debut in the first grade chorus for the school play, Shrek Jr. She continues to devote most waking moments to her first love: art. This summer, Autumn found her own little nirvana during three weeks of summer camp at the DeYoung Museum. Daily tours of the galleries, hands on projects and instruction, and plenty of time to run around outside made for a very happy little girl.

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Throughout the year, her confidence on two wheels has grown and we’ve begun taking short bike rides through Golden Gate Park, down to the beach and around the neighborhood. Autumn played soccer this fall with the all-girls SF Sol. The team’s first and only win, late in the season, was met with a degree of jubilation generally reserved for no-hitters and overtime bowl game victories.

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Favorite Movie: The Sound of Music
Career Aspiration: Fashion Designer, Artist

Jody

Jody has chosen the mantra, “Ice is Nice” and most Monday nights she can be found skating at Yerba Buena Center. Some weeks are great and some weeks are not, but she loves her time on the ice and is making progress toward her pre-bronze test. The team at PritchardPeck lighting shows no signs of slowing down. Feeling the squeeze of their small office, they upgraded to a bigger space in the heart of the city’s mid-Market neighborhood. They are doing complex and beautiful work on a number high-profile projects while managing to lean into a very demanding work-life balance. Growth like that requires strong roots, and Jody returned to hers in late August at the 20-year reunion for Glencoe High School Class of ’95. There were drinks, laughter and enough awkward conversation to last another decade. Roll Tide!

Favorite Book: The Neopolitan Novels, Elena Ferrante
Guilty Pleasure: Taylor Swift 1989

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Matt

Earlier this year, I was selected for a leadership development program at Williams-Sonoma. Along with an incredible cohort of peers, I’ve had the opportunity to see facets of our business that are far removed from my day-to-day role. The program focuses on developing self-awareness as a leader, which has been an enlightening and sometimes challenging journey. Away from work, I let my geek flag fly: building robots, rockets and making plans for a high-altitude balloon launch in the spring. I squeezed in one weeknight bikepacking trip to the Marin Headlands and continue to enjoy the world’s greatest daily commute. Next year is the big 4-Ohhh…steel yourselves for the requisite mid-life shenanigans.

Favorite Book: Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson
Best Sunset: Seeing the Green Flash from Sutro Heights Park

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It seems that Old Man Time just won’t slow the fuck down, so we’ll try to make these years count. It was so good to see many of you throughout the year. Let’s all continue to live, love and make memories. Peace be with you and your loved ones this season and always.

Matt, Jody, Autumn and Carson
San Francisco, CA

P.S. If you’d like to see more of our family portraits, they’re posted on Flickr.

Twenty Fourteen: The Year in Review

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It is time once again for a look back on a year in the life of the family Pritchard. This year was one of growth and travel, laughter and tears, creative inspiration and not nearly enough sleep.

We rang in the new year deep in the heart of Death Valley National Park. Our little hideaway offered quiet days, incredible views and plenty of low-altitude passes from the local F-18 squadron. In May we celebrated our ten year anniversary! We kept the promise we made to ourselves years ago, and marked the occasion with a trip to Paris. Autumn and Carson remained stateside with the grandparents. We enjoyed a week of late nights followed by lazy mornings, incredible food and beautiful sights. It rained every day and we couldn’t have cared less. We spent the entire week in the city, scouting restaurants, museums and ice cream parlors. Highlights include an evening concert at Notre Dame Cathedral, more than a few mind-blowing meals and several hours sitting on park benches doing absolutely nothing.

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We returned home feeling a little guilty for leaving the kids behind and promptly planned an end-of-summer trip to Disneyland as a thinly-veiled attempt at penance. It was a memorable trip…you can read more about it here. A general lack of planning and preparation threw some salt in our camping game, but we did manage to sneak outside for a night or two under the stars. We woke one night in Samuel P. Taylor Park to the rumbling of an earthquake – an interesting experience when you’re connected to the earth beneath a canopy of mighty redwoods.

Autumn came bounding out of Kindergarten and tumbling into the First Grade at Lafayette Elementary. She devotes much of that energy to her art: drawing, painting, cutting, gluing, molding, sewing and generally creating. She entered the PTA Reflections Art Contest this year and saw her entry recognized at the school and district level before moving to the state competition. Autumn also began playing soccer with the SF Micro Soccer league. What the matches lack in competitive game play, they make up for in giggles and priceless views. The soccer pitch is at Marina Green – a stone’s throw from the water, with views of GG Bridge, Alcatraz and Angel Island.

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Carson started his second year at Presidio Preschool, where he made strong connections with his teacher Dustin and a small group of friends (both real and imaginary) who seem to focus their energy on building things up and promptly tearing them back down. When he’s not busy playing with Lego, he can also be found playing with Lego (this kid has a habit). Carson and Autumn got to experience MakerFaire for the first time in May. Fire breathing robots, giant bubbles, remote controlled battleships and massive Tesla coils sparked enough interest to make this a perennial adventure. In the fall we got our hands dirty as we designed and built our first medieval siege weapon and hurled unsuspecting gourds into the wild blue yonder.

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Twain Harte has long been a special place for the Salsig clan, and this year Jody poured herself into revitalizing the family cabin there. It’s a throwback to the mid-century, and has been renamed Winter’s Camp, in honor of Jody’s grandfather William Winter Salsig. This all came to life in stolen moments between growing a business and fulfilling her role as SuperMom. PritchardPeck Lighting continues to ascend in both the profile of their work and recognition from their industry.

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It was an engaging year for me at work. I took on a bigger role at Williams-Sonoma and had the opportunity to do a bit of travel. In May I traveled to Nashville to visit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, an amazing organization with whom we have a long-standing partnership. That inspiration led to some quick, creative work with a team of talented folks to bring online donations to our brand websites in time for our annual giving campaign. In September, I had my 20-year high-school reunion and had a chance to connect with some close friends and some vaguely familiar faces. All in all, I’d say we’ve aged pretty well. In March we said goodbye to my Uncle Dennis, who left us too soon, but left behind an amazing family and memories that will keep us laughing and smiling for decades to come. We miss you, Uncle D.

We loved spending time with you all this year – whether it was a weekend brunch, a trip to the mountains or just a fleeting moment as our paths crossed. And if it’s been too long, let’s do something about that in new year. May peace be with you and your loved ones this season and always.

Matt, Jody, Autumn and Carson
San Francisco, CA

Twenty Thirteen: The Year in Review

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Twelve years on, this experiment in urban living just feels right. For many years we punted on the question of whether we would stay in San Francisco or migrate north to the rolling hills of Marin. As much as we love sunny days, big backyards and ample parking, we won’t take this city for granted. We love that we live a stone’s throw from the Pacific Ocean. That Golden Gate Park is our big backyard. That world-class museums and cultural centers are a short bus ride away. That we hear five different languages being spoken to children at the playground. That when we have an appetite for Vietnamese food, we have a half dozen options in the neighborhood. That our children’s concept of “normal” will never be small. That a short commute means more time at home. That even in a city of 825,000, we always seem to bump into friends around town. That in small spaces, a family can grow with love, support and a sense of place. For so many reasons it became clear that we are a San Francisco family and this city is where we want to grow.

And while we lovely our city dearly, we certainly enjoy getting the hell out of town from time to time. We started the year with our annual pilgrimage to Death Valley and the Owens Valley. We spent two nights in a tiny cabin in the hills above Lone Pine and then found our way back to the Panamint Valley in Death Valley NP, where we camped for two beautiful, still nights. We can’t think of a better way to start the new year. We had some ambitious plans for skiing, but only managed one 3-day trip up to Kirkwood. While Carson stalked the halls of Red Cliffs Day Lodge, Autumn logged another two days of ski school and a few runs with Dad. As the summertime fog enveloped our home, we made plans for a trip north to the Oregon Coast. We spent a week at a vacation home near Florence. We visited the epic sand dunes, the Sea Lion Cavern and many windy beaches. On July Fourth, we cast bedtime aside and took the kids to their first fireworks show. Much smiling and squealing ensued. We also took a day trip to Corvallis to visit the OSU campus, which was a first for the kids and great fun for Jody and me.

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Autumn

After a dozen schools tours and countless hours debating our options, we received Autumn’s SFUSD school assignment for her Kindergarten year. With a sigh of resignation we learned that we didn’t receive any of our choice schools. Through three subsequent rounds of placement our luck did not change. Autumn was oblivious to all of this and started her school year in August with a sweet curiosity and mild trepidation. But as the days ticked by and the shuffling of kids settled down, we learned that a spot had opened for us at one of our top schools. In the third week of the year, Autumn moved over to Lafayette Elementary School without missing a beat. She loves her teacher (Ms. Hubbell) and we love the community of families at the school. At snack time, she can often be found discussing the nature of twin prime numbers with her classmates while swinging from the monkey bars.

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Autumn continues to practice ballet every Friday with Miss Tilley, and in May she had her first recital. It was the very definition of cute overload as twenty wee ballerinas showed us their very best. Grandma Mary and Grandpa Bill were on hand to show their support. She loves to create, and we keep a steady supply of markers, crayons, paper and glue on hand to support her art habit. Outside the house, she has become a hearty hiker, a capable camper and an expert marshmallow roaster. She logged a few more days skiing at Kirkwood in the spring and she gets more steady on her bike with each outing. Without a doubt, she is a handful. But as Jody and I like to remind ourselves in the most trying of times, “At least she isn’t dull.”

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Favorite Books: Tiptoes Lightly, Circus Ship
Favorite Food: Pizza, Hamburgers
Current Career Inclination: Dress Designer or Scientist

Carson

Suddenly, there’s a little dude in our midst. No longer just Autumn’s baby brother, we got to see Carson in a new light this year. He’s goofy and funny. He’s shy and sensitive. He can eat his weight in pasta. And with no urging from his parents, he’s decided that his favorite color is orange, naturally.

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Carson (and Autumn) had a blast in the off-season with Sara, our summertime nanny who seemed to possess boundless energy and surplus of warm smiles. They had daily adventures on the town, taking buses to the park, the beach and the library. And after two years of accompanying his big sister to morning drop-off at preschool, it was finally Carson’s turn. He began his first year at Presidio Preschool in August. He loves his teachers (Roxanne and Thui), his friends and the giant train set he gets to play with every day. Carson currently holds the record at Presidio Preschool for most superficial head wounds in a one-month period. We’ve started saving the incident reports as artifacts of his childhood.

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In October (the golden days for SF weather), Carson and Autumn went to their first concert just a stone’s throw from our front door: Calexico at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. There was singing, there was dancing, there was Carson accidentally kicking over some dude’s plate of nachos (sorry, brah). Just two months later, a cold snap descended upon San Francisco, threatening to put a chill on Carson’s birthday plans. But the little guy wanted a cable car birthday, so we bundled up and hopped on the California line for a ride over Nob Hill to the Embarcadero where we had a quintessential city birthday party in the shadow of downtown.

Favorite Books: Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site; Steam Train, Dream Train
Favorite Food: Pasta, Pinto Beans
Favorite Toy: Legos, Excavator

Jody

This year marked the two-year anniversary of PritchardPeck Lighting and the company continues to grow. Jody and Kristin brought on more employees, packing them into every corner of their cozy SOMA digs. Their work was published in several trade magazines and in October they were awarded the highest honor from the IESNA for their work on the Velti Headquarters in San Francisco. Earlier in the year, Jody joined a few colleagues for a trip to Italy and Slovenia to tour lighting factories, talk to manufacturers and drink wine (not necessarily in that order).

But all work and no play makes Jody a dull girl. So in 2013, she found a way to sneak in a little time for herself. Once a week, Jody gets some ice time at Yerba Buena Center. She takes ice skating lessons every week – a little dream come true from her childhood. Though because I stay home with the kids on those nights, I’ve never actually seen her skate. So it’s entirely possible that she drives downtown with her skates, finds a warm place to relax and tucks into a Hot Toddy for a little mommy quiet time.

Best Meal: State Bird Provisions with Kristin and Simon
Most Fabulous Moment: Riding a private Chris Craft to Murano
Biggest Indulgence: SP-Terri Ice Skates

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Matt

I spent a lot of time this year counting miles. In 2012, I started commuting to my office by bike and doing some longer rides on the weekends, eventually posting 1,500 all-purpose miles. It felt great to get back into cycling and the commute offered a great way for me to put in a lot of non-negotiable miles every week (not to mention, a good excuse to avoid MUNI). In January of 2013, I set a solid but achievable goal of 2,000 miles for the year. So, I hit that goal in June and kept on cranking. By the time the year was out, I had knocked off 4,000+ miles and completed two century rides: the Marin Century and the Tahoe Sierra Century. Most of those miles come as part of my commute, and I remain in awe that I get to have such a beautiful ride to and from work every day. I even got to sneak in a mid-week bikepacking trip. I ventured across the bridge and into the Marin Headlands after work one day for a night of solo camping followed by blueberry pancakes at the Dipsea Cafe on my way into work the next morning. Every other Tuesday, Jody teaches art class at Autumn’s school and Carson gets to ride to work on the back of Dad’s bike. All in all, he seems pretty chill about the whole thing and falls asleep more often than not.

In other news, the long-neglected Yummy Lovin’ website got a reboot and some new content. It contains recipes that have become Pritchard Family staples. SierraSoul remains on indefinite hiatus, though I would like to finish up our New Zealand trip report before ten years passes – it’s almost ready.

Favorite Book of 2013: Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
Favorite Ride of 2013: SF to Novato via Marshall on June 22
Favorite Show of 2013: The xx at the Fox Theater on May 30

We hope this message finds you well. And we hope you have a safe and happy holiday with the ones you love most.

Matt, Jody, Autumn and Carson
San Francisco, CA

P.S. If you’d like to see more of our family portraits, they’re posted on Flickr.

Twenty Twelve: The Year in Review

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As we parted ways with 2012 and started a new year, I thought briefly about just letting our year-end review slide this time. I had a lot on my plate, and who wants to read last year’s news when a fresh calendar awaits? But as much as I appreciate the friends and family who stay up-to-date with our little brood from this website, in many ways, we are the intended audience. This site lets us walk back through the brief history of our family, laugh at the naïveté of our early years and give Autumn and Carson a record of their childhood. So to our two children, I say this: if you’re reading this, years from now, give your old man a hug. Because I just as well could have sat on the sofa with a bowl of cereal and watched reruns of The Simpsons tonight. But I did this instead. Now THAT is love.

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This young man crawled his way into 2012 and ran his way out of it. Carson is a bona fide K-I-D. Our expectation (read: hope) that Carson would be the mellow Yin to complement Autumn’s high-speed Yang did not really materialize. This came into focus as Carson practiced his favorite hobby of climbing up and jumping off everything in sight. He’s retained his sweet smile and all of his teeth, which is more than we can say for his sister at this age.

Carson at Badwater

Carson found his sea legs early in the year and hasn’t slowed down since. He loves kicking the soccer ball around the park, which he visits often with our wonderful nanny Ahna and his buddy Naomi. One of his first words (after Dad), was “light” which no doubt brought a wee tear to his mother’s eye. He loves to help in the kitchen and comes running anytime he hears the mixer or suspects any cookery is taking place. He reaches in the air and pleads, “tall, tall, tall” – his way of asking to sit on the counter so he can check out all the action. His love of food extends to the dining table where has been known to eat platefuls of pasta, bowls of beans and more bananas than a troop of monkeys. We have a video from early in the year where you can see for yourself.

Autumn

The little lady of the house is not so little any more. Autumn grew up in so many ways this year, we find ourselves both delighted and terrified at where this thing is going. Autumn is in her second year at Presidio Preschool, steeling herself for the jump to kindergarten. After touring eight schools and attending several enrollment faires and classes this fall, Mom and Dad look forward to enrolling Autumn in one of the Richmond District elementary schools in August. She loves art and books and delights in the nature walks her class takes in the Presidio every Friday. Her favorite books include: If I Built a House, Peter Rabbit, The Story of Sleepy Sam and anything from Dostoevsky’s oeuvre. If anyone knows how we can obtain a personal sponsorship from Crayola or Flax Art & Design, please let us know.

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Autumn’s boundless energy found many outlets this year, as we sought to direct her perpetual motion outside the home. In April, she stepped into her bindings and pointed her tiny skis downhill at Kirkwood. A few preliminary runs with Dad were followed by a lesson in Kirkwood’s Little Rippers program…a routine we plan to continue in 2013. She continues to take weekly swim lessons at the JCC and loves to show off her skilz when we visit the pool at Grandma and Granddad’s house. At Grandpa’s house in Twain Harte, it’s hard to say what’s the bigger draw: splashing around in the lake with her sand toys or reminding Grandpa that they have ice cream at the Snack Shack. In September, she began ballet classes with Miss Tilly, whose neighborhood studio is something of an institution in San Francisco. Later that month, she got her first pedal bike and proceeded to punish the pavement in Golden Gate Park.

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Jody

For Jody, 2012 was a balancing act, with a growing family on one side and a growing business on the other. Jody and her partner, Kristin, poured their energy into growing the company they founded in 2011, PritchardPeck Lighting. What started a year earlier with two laptops and a short list of clients has grown into a thriving business. In 2012, they brought on staff and moved into an office space in the SOMA area of SF. As their reputation and client list grows, they’re trying to find moments to take a deep breath and enjoy their success.

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To that end, Jody was the champion of travel this year, instigating a number of trips that found us loading up the car and chasing the horizon. In March, Jody and Autumn traveled north to Portland to celebrate Grandma Eileen’s graduation from her Master’s program and hang out with cousin Bodhi. We kicked off the summer with a long weekend trip to Santa Cruz and kept the momentum going with weekly trips to beaches north, south and right here in the city. A bag full of sand toys and cooler full of sandwiches is as close as we can get to hitting the Easy Button these days. In early July, we visited Grandpa in Twain Harte and had two nights of camping in the Sierra. Speaking of camping, in September, we repeated our trip to Kirby Cove and had the company of cousins Marley and Ashtyn. The stars aligned and we had another fog free night, which is key when you’re sleeping at the confluence of five very large foghorns. After Christmas, we took another Griswold Pritchard Family roadtrip to the Eastern Sierra and points south. We had two nights at a rustic cabin near the Alabama Hills before heading into Death Valley National Park for a few nights of camping in the remote Panamint Valley, site of last year’s camp and a spot that is quickly becoming one of our favorite DV destinations.

Matt

Matt is about one-thousand words into this post and finding it rather difficult to switch to the first-person view. So, in honor of Ricky Henderson…

In 2012, Matt received a promotion at Williams-Sonoma, Inc. and now manages a product team within the eCommerce Technology group. Among other accomplishments, Matt ensured that the system that randomly generates millions of promotion codes for WSI will never produce one with a swear word. Sometimes, it’s the little things that matter. Speaking of work, after twelve years commuting on MUNI buses, Matt had a moment of clarity. One day in April, he tried riding his bike to work. One day led to two, and he found that he could cut a full hour from his commute by riding his bike, not to mention the vast improvement in scenery and fitness. By year’s end, he had racked up 116 days commuting by bike for a total of 1,568 miles.

Cozy in the Cabin

In the evenings, Matt continues to fight against the life-sucking vortex that is our living room sofa. When he wins a bout, he usually ends up at TechShop, where he dons a pair of safety glasses and slips into geek mode. With access to more machines and fabrication tools that he can possibly hope to master, he’s been having a hell of a good time designing and building a number of projects this year. When Autumn hears mention of TechShop, she usually inquires, “Daddy, are you working with the saws or the lasers tonight?” If we play our cards right, she will never know what a bizarre question that is.

So that’s a peek at 2012 in the life of our family. So memorable in some ways, and a total blur in others. We’re healthy and pretty damn happy (most days) and for that we feel blessed. Thanks for checking in on us. Wishing you and yours a year of good cheer in 2013.

God Bless.

Twenty Eleven: The Year in Review

Years from now, I’m certain we will look back on this year as a turning point for our family. We knew 2011 would be one of the most exciting, challenging and memorable years on record. It did not disappoint in that regard. Instead it left us with an appreciation for all we have and the support we enjoy from our family, friends and colleagues. If you’ll indulge us, we would like to give you a recap of 2011 for the Pritchard family.

Carson

Carson came into our lives just two weeks before Christmas 2010. The holiday season was a blur of Christmas lights and sleepless nights. We emerged on the other side of the New Year with a smiling bundle who soon earned the name Captain Smiles. Carson is a happy kid, but is certainly not afraid to speak his mind when the situation calls for it (feed me, burp me, amuse me).

In February, Carson took his first trip to Portland to meet family and friends and deemed the state of Oregon: “A fine territory, rich in natural resources and worthy of further exploration.” A few months later, Carson spent his first night in a tent on Grandpa’s back lawn in Twain Harte. The close quarters didn’t suit him at the time, but we’ve had two camping trips since and he’s warmed to the idea of sleeping beneath the stars. Carson spends three days a week in the loving company of our nanny Ahna and his best bud, Naomi Sabraw. In November, he watched his first OSU football game and was welcomed into the brotherhood of the damned. We shook that one off and celebrated his first birthday earlier this month with family and close friends. Carson becomes more mobile every day. He’s pulls himself up on anything in sight and teeters around on his squishy little feet. It won’t be long before we’re running after him, just trying to keep up.

Autumn

Autumn has eased her way into Big Sister mode with equal parts curiosity and mild discontent. “Who is this diapered interloper in our midst?” (Yes, our kids really talk like this.) She’s become a champion road-tripper and declares a clear preference in music: Hip Hop. She loves to read books with Mom and Dad, and her favorites include: Ferdinand, Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee and The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes. In February, Autumn stepped into ski boots at Kirkwood for the first time and declared: “Ahh…now this is civilized,” then proceeded to give a sharp look to the knuckle dragging masses cinching up their snowboard bindings. We kept our expectations low and our supply of M&Ms flush (don’t judge us) and made it through the first ski experience with everyone’s feelings intact. Autumn loves her weekly swimming lessons at the JCC and also gave soccer a try this past summer (ehh…we’ll keep working on that one).

In September, Autumn said goodbye to the droolers at daycare and matriculated at Presidio Preschool. She loves going every Tuesday and Thursday and spends most of her time at PPS working on art projects, a pursuit to which she also devotes much of her time at home. In November, she had a surprise visit from the Tooth Fairy after a little swimming pool accident brought a bit more character to her smile. Autumn loves to laugh and dance and has become a capable sous chef, helping Dad with cooking projects nearly every weekend. She has the pancake recipe down pat – three of everything (see the video).

Jody

Jody took a major step this year in her professional life. In January, just weeks after Carson was born, Jody founded Pritchard Lighting Group. Starting with just one project that she carried over from her previous company, a steady stream of work began to flow in. Before long, it was clear that the plan for several months of rest was a pleasant memory. Plumbing the depths of sleep deprivation, Jody worked tirelessly to build a solid foundation for her new business.

In May, Jody traveled to LightFair in Philadelphia, where she delivered a talk to an audience of her peers on the design of lighting websites from a specifier’s point of view. Her partner for the talk was her long-time colleague and friend, Kristin Peck. This was just part of a collaboration that led to their announcement the following month and the creation of PritchardPeck Lighting. From their website:

Jody Pritchard and Kristin Peck founded PritchardPeck Lighting in 2011, intent on building a team of talented professionals who seek to elevate the practice and deliver a fresh and accessible perspective on lighting design. A creative approach to problem solving is combined with a strong aptitude for technology. This is a team with the curiosity to push the boundaries, and the experience to deliver something both practical and beautiful.

Fearing the title of Overachiever of the Year might escape her grasp, Jody continues to stay home with the kids two days a week, taking them to swimming lessons, the Discovery Museum and plenty of time at the neighborhood parks. Often, her work gets in where it fits in and she’s become acquainted all too well with the other side of midnight.

Matt

Matt is still uncomfortable talking about himself in the third-person but has acquiesced to the tradition of the holiday letter. In 2011, Matt saw his responsibilities grow in his role at Williams-Sonoma, where he works on strategy and new features for the eCommerce platform. If you spent any time on the Williams-Sonoma, PotteryBarn or West Elm websites in the past year, you’re already familiar with his work. In his limited spare time, Matt let his geek flag fly with a renewed interest in high-power rocketry and various tech hobbies. He still bakes and makes photographs whenever time permits, opportunities that are few and far between these days. At the end of the day, most of his time is spent trying to impress his kids with fresh dance moves.

Perhaps Matt’s greatest achievement this year was getting his young family out the door for three camping trips, including one bona fide backpacking trip in the Marin Headlands. Each trip was designed to allow for mid-night bailouts in the event of a blowout, meltdown or raccoon attack. The most memorable trip was likely our October trip to Kirby Cove, where we got to spend the night at the beach beneath the Golden Gate Bridge and just a stone’s throw across the water from our home on 25th Ave. Both kids got their first view of Yosemite Valley during a weekend trip in May, and were greeted by the biggest waterfall flow in a generation. In October, the crew headed south for a much-needed vacation in Palm Springs. A week of swimming, relaxing and exploring the Coachella Valley was capped off with a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park. After Christmas, the team will head south for bit of adventure in the wilds of Death Valley National Park and the Eastern Sierra playground they like to think of as their second home.

2011 has been an amazing year. We’re happy to have spent time with so many of you and look forward to a timely reunion with so many more. We hope you have a Happy Holiday season and a prosperous New Year in 2012. Take Care.