2013, in more than 140 characters

January

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2013 was an amazing year for our family, and since I haven’t posted all year, I figured this would be a good opportunity to write down my thoughts. We started the year going to the top of Mount Diablo (visible from our backyard), and this was one of many outdoors trips we would take this year.

In January JP and I were still working the 12 hour overnight shift from 7pm to 7am. This led to learning how to make cappuccinos with the machine at work thanks to JP’s time working at Borders.

Anna and I checked out an Eichler home in the area, and fell in love with these unique homes. When we buy a house we will almost surely wait it out for an Eichler home.

We did a lot of travelling in December of 2012, so we pretty much stayed home for the month of January.

February

In February things started to get interesting. We were in talks with Twitter to move to Ireland and work with the new TCC team being interviewed and hired for 2013. Before our trip to Dublin, I took a class trip with my kids to the Cathedral of Christ the Light, which was an amazing building.

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Then, on February 21st, the night before we were to fly to Dublin, Anna’s purse was stolen while we were taking her mom out to dinner to say thanks for watching our kids while we were away. Fortunately, her passport was not in the purse, and we were able to cancel all debit and credit cards before too much damage was done. We also had to have all the locks on our house changed, as the thieves got her license and house keys.

Regardless, on February 22nd we left for Dublin in good spirits! Dublin was amazing. We met many new friends (mostly people that worked at Twitter, of course) and Anna got to enjoy the city while I was working. The first day there we took a bus tour that drove from Dublin down to Cork and back. We had a few stops along the way to see some castles that were many centuries older than America. Overall the trip was amazing and very positive.

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And of course what trip to Ireland would be complete without a visit to the Blarney Stone (I kissed it, Anna did not).

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March

After a crazy international trip in February, March was much more quiet. Of course, that doesn’t mean we didn’t take any trips! My father-in-law was in Brea (near L.A.) for business right around Easter time, so we drove down to stay with him and my mother-in-law for a few nights, and they took us all to Disneyland! We also went to the Santa Monica Pier, and did a little driving around Hollywood.

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We had a great time at Disneyland and overall a wonderful Easter break.

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April

In April Bunny broke her arm riding her new Razor scooter in the backyard. She was in good spirits after getting checked out by the doctor!

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April is also the month of Bunny’s birth, and this year she chose to celebrate with a handful of close friends and we took them all to the Melting Pot!

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We also decided to finally trade in our aging, beat up Dodge Caravan for a nice 2011 Toyota Camry!

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May

In May I got to reunite with Lukasz, who I had interviewed while I was in Dublin, because he was the first hire for the TCC Dublin team! This month was also the time both girls were scheduled to receive First Communion, and to help us celebrate, my mom came out for a brief visit!

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So did our good family friend Christian, as well as the kids other grandmother from Florida (she who had flown out to watch the kids while we were in Ireland)!! The First Communion was a great success, and we had a nice little party afterwards.

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The other major event in May was Mother’s Day, of course! To celebrate we took Anna to her favorite restaurant: The Distillery, in Half Moon Bay. We had a great time as always.

Mother's Day Dinner

We were also very proud of Lila Holler, who won best poetry for the 2nd grade across the diocese! Her little book of poems was amazing, and she is an inspiring little writer.

Lila wins her award

June

In June we found out that one of our favorite people from NJ had secretly moved out to Oakland! We made plans right away to visit with Chris Silk. It happened to coincide with the Alameda sand castle contest, and then the girls and I spent the afternoon with him while he grilled us all up some food. It was great to have another friend in the East Bay.

We quickly made plans to go camping, and we found a great campground right at Lake Tahoe called Sugar Pine Point. The days and nights were both amazingly beautiful. This was when we fell in love with Tahoe.

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We also decided to join a private swim club, since the summers in Concord get pretty intense. Best decision of the year, the kids love it there, and it is quite affordable!

June was also the last full month I worked the overnight shift at the Twitter Command Center. I had been studying Python and working on a new project which would make it into production by the end of the year!

July

At the end of June Anna and the kiddos went down to Naples, FL, to stay with her parents for a few weeks (as has become their normal summer routine). That meant I had a lot of time at home alone, and spent some of my days with these dudes:

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This photo was taken at some outdoor music festival that happened in Oakland, I can’t remember the name. I finally bought myself some new clothes, and JP and I finally got back to working days at Twitter. This was one of the best things that happened to me this year, as it meant not having to constantly switch between sleeping during the day and sleeping during the night. This started some amazing changes at work that continue to bring me joy.

For the week around my birthday, I flew out to Naples, FL to spend it with my wife and kids. We also took a day to drive up to visit my dad at his new marina!

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We spent the day fishing off the pier, and had a nice lunch and dinner with my dad before heading back to Naples. Later in the week, we had a great dinner with my grandparents, and the day before I flew home we had one last lunch with them at their favorite spot on Marco Island.

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After I got back from FL, a few days later we started one of our quarterly Buddy Weekends (since my family was all still back in FL). Billy Reuben flew out to stay with JP and I, and we pretty much just hung out watching movies, playing video games, a lot of Space Team. It was a great time, and a perfect way to end the month.

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I almost forgot, but I also had a visit from an old friend from my days studying computers at Chubb in NJ. I had helped him get an interview at Twitter and he and his wife came out for a round of interviews and to check out moving to CA. It didn’t work out, but it was really great to see Mike Mackintosh again.

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August

In August, my family came home, and we took our second trip to Tahoe with Max and Donna Michaels. We split a house with them, and it was one of the best vacations we have been on!

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The kiddos and I in Emerald Bay

Anna and I on King's Beach

We rented a paddle board, did a bunch of hiking, and everyone had a really great time.

No August would be complete without a birthday party for Lila Holler! This year she was obsessed with pigs, so everything at her party was pig themed. We had it at our pool club, and the kids had a great time. Most importantly, Lila finally had a birthday party she enjoyed, after years of parties ruined by one thing or another. (She was born the same day that Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans).

Lila's 8th birthday party

We also celebrated Anna’s birthday, but unfortunately we couldn’t go to The Distillery this time because the bridge was closed between here and there. She got a nice Free People dress and a lot of love.

Also school got back into gear this month and EVERYONE was glad the kids had something to keep them busier.

September

This month, there was a huge fire on Mt. Diablo that looked much scarier than it really was.

Mt. Diablo Fire

In September the latest Grand Theft Auto also came out, which was a very exciting time of the year for me. We put together a little man cave in the garage, and JP came over to enjoy the experience of picking the game up at midnight and playing until we couldn’t keep our eyes open.

The man cave

We were also invited to a celebration of Mexican Independence Day, where we got to see the traditional dresses and food that our Mexican friends enjoy on this special day.

I also got to see Unknown Mortal Orchestra at the Fillmore, which was a great concert.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra at the Fillmore

Lila and I also had a daddy/daughter day alone and went to the Oakland Zoo. It was good, but it’s no Philadelphia Zoo.

Lila at the Oakland Zoo

October

In October Anna and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary! Hard to believe it’s been that long already, seems like much less time. We celebrated by going back to Tahoe and renting a place just with our family. We had a really wonderful time, again, and tried some new places out. If we ever buy a second house I’m sure it will be in Tahoe!

Anna, Bunny and Lila at Lake Tahoe

At the end of October, we went camping again. This time, it was with Anna’s long time friend from NYC, Logan Carter!

Logan and Anna in Big Sur

We had a great time camping with them in Big Sur, in fact we decided to extend our stay an extra night so we could enjoy another day together! We met Logan’s boyfriend Gab, who did most of the cooking since he’s a chef. We did some more hiking and sight seeing. Overall it was a great trip and a great time.

Every October ends with Halloween, but sadly I think Anna got all those pictures since i didn’t go trick or treating this year.

We got another nice surprise in October, as we found out that Twitter was going through with an IPO in November!!!!

November

We didn’t think Twitter would IPO until 2015 or 2016, so it was definitely a pleasant surprise to find out it was going to happen THIS YEAR! Everyone was abuzz at work about the IPO, and the day of the IPO we all gathered in the commons at HQ to watch the opening bell at the NYSE.

Twitter IPO at HQ

After watching the opening bell, we all got back to work while we waited to hear what the opening price was. Once the price was getting close to settled, my team and I watched the news pretty closely to see it happen in real time.

Watching TV in the TCC

Overall it was a really exciting day, and it was a blast to experience that first hand. We had a party that night which kicked off with a speech from our CEO. Overall a pretty great day.

That wasn’t the end of the excitement for November though! We had a visit for several weeks from the Rivas family, from NJ. They are like family to us, we are very close. While it was stressful having 9 people in a house made for 4, it was a fun time, and we were all thankful that we got to spend some time together for Thanksgiving. We took them to SF, the Golden Gate Bridge, Dolores Park (where I saw Biz Stone and Ev Williams playing with their kids), as well as a bunch of other places like Napa.

Rivas' at the Golden Gate Bridge

Thanksgiving Dinner

December

In December I had the opportunity to go to a Python Meetup at Yelp HQ, which was really enjoyable. I went with a coworker named JJ, who I eventually found out lives less than a mile from us in Concord. I first met JJ when he gave JP and I a TON of feedback at work on our software project. It was really exciting to have someone with as much experience as JJ take an interest in helping us out so much. JJ also told us about a school specifically to help children with dyslexia, which is something we have been looking for to help Bunny. We went this month to visit them and while it isn’t perfect, we think it will be the right choice to help Bunny overcome her sequencing issues. I was finally able to introduce Anna and JJ at the Twitter holiday party. Anna also got to meet everyone else on my team that she didn’t know, and one of the other coworkers that has been a huge help to me this year: Joe Smith.

All dressed up for the Twitter Holiday Party

Anna and I stayed in SF the night of the holiday party so we wouldn’t have to deal with getting all the way back to Concord. We got all dressed up in our room and then took a cab to City Hall for the party!

Twitter Holiday Party at City Hall

On Christmas Eve, the kiddos both sang with the school choir at the 5pm Mass. Here they are all dressed up:

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To close out the year we had an amazing Christmas, the best one yet. The kids got everything that they asked Santa for, plus a couple of old things from us. Anna was surprised with a new computer!

Overall this year has been amazing for us. Now that our company has IPO’ed we have a pretty solid idea of the value of our stock, and it’s very good.

Personally, I’ve had good success getting more and more feeling back while recovering from my transverse myelitis (which first struck me on New Year’s Eve 2010). Anna and I have been growing our marriage, and I feel more in love now than ever before. The kids have branched out into trying new things (both are doing Cheerleading, and Bunny has been taking Irish step dance lessons). Anna has been working towards starting her post partum doula business.

As for me, this has been one of the most exciting years for me professionally. I started the year with a nascent software project at work, which has turned into what takes up most of my time at work now. We realized after a few months that we needed some more experienced developers giving us input, and that was when we started working closely with Joe Smith. He has been an immeasurable help to us. That was topped off by the surprise feedback we got from JJ later in the year. Since then he has become something of a mentor to me at work. It’s amazing to have all this help available to enhance all the studying and hard work I do to propel my career forward.

2014 looks to be shaping up to be the year we finally get rid of all credit card and student loan debt, and we might even buy a house! As we prepare for our little NYE party tonight, I look forward to all the adventures we will have in 2014, as well as looking forward to my professional development at work!

Life is Good

I recently passed 90 days doing my new job at Twitter. Anna, the girls and I have started to settle into our new home, and school and work have been great, if not tiring. Bunny has started running track, which she has been excelling at! She really enjoys the events, and the younger kids all do the same events as the older kids, so she really feels a part of something bigger than herself or her school. Lila started doing a dancing/cheer class, which will be short lived but she is thoroughly enjoying it! Anna has been working hard at reupholstering and refinishing furniture in our house, in some cases to great transformative effect! I’m so proud of all my family members!!!

Working for Twitter has so far been the best professional experience of my life. The company takes great strides to keep their employees well (and healthily) fed, the work is very stimulating, and there are tons of interesting events going on all the time. Sometimes they’re just social, but there are also a lot of mentally stimulating events going on, from visitors coming in to present talks, to discussions that occur by serendipity. This week was the first week I took over primary duties in my new role, and while it’s been exhausting, it is really rewarding to know I’m having a positive impact so early on. My new schedule will start soon, and just in time for the summer months so our whole family will be able to spend a lot of time exploring the trails and other places in California. So much to do, and soon we’ll all have lots of time to do them! I’m really looking forward to that.