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