My 2013 Year in Review

Here’s the problem with my Facebook “2013 Year in Review”: When you spend most of your time on Facebook being a sarcastic idiot, your milestones are the jokes your friends liked the most. . . and your wife’s and kids’ birthdays.

But this year was kind of a big year for me and my family. I haven’t always had the time to write about the milestones here (it’s been a really busy year, too, at least in terms of work), but I thought it would be a nice way to close out the year by making short list, at least for those who might be interested.

Diaper-free
My lovely wife and I are the proud parents of three kids–three amazing, beautiful, intelligent, creative, loving kids. When I’m not working, most of my time is spent trying to be with them. Well, even though she didn’t turn 3 years-old until September, the #3 kid went diaper-free last spring. This is the end of an era that began in the fall of 2005 with the birth of our son, #1. I can’t understate what a wonderful development this was for us all and, yet, kind of sad, too.

The Book
This one Facebook got right. For that matter, since I’ve been hitting the social media airwaves with the news of my book’s release since it was released, this one probably doesn’t need re-stating here. That said, MY BOOK CAME OUT THIS YEAR!! It’s an event that I’ve been describing as “surreal” when people ask but the more I think about it, it’s not. I feel very proud and accomplished. I also feel detached, like the book that came out isn’t something I produced. I feel happy, to be sure. I also feel a little disappointed. I wish it were the book I always hoped it would have been, or at least more like that book. While I am happy that a major and well-respected academic press saw merit in my work and agreed to publish it (I would not have a job if they didn’t), I also feel like the “academic-ness” of the book makes it something less useful to the people who are the subject of the book. Complicated stuff, but so overwhelmingly good in the final sum.

Sister moves
I have two sisters, the youngest of which has been living with her husband on the Central Coast since 2008. My wife and I moved down to Southern California (from the Central Coast) in early 2006, so for most of the time that we’ve been down here, she has been up there. Well, this summer she moved back to LA to start working in residential life at USC. My brother-in-law finally joined her just this month. So happiness all around for them and the demise of the long-distance feature of their relationship, but also for us. While we haven’t seen much more of her since she moved, I suspect, in the long run, this will change. And that is a great thing!

Dodgers
I realized this year that I don’t really post many things about the Dodgers on social media. A blog post here and there, a comment to a friend’s post more often, but nothing really that would give you a sense of how much I enjoyed them or this season. It was a really fun one to watch, even though the ending stunk. What made it a lot less painful was that I went into the NLCS already having accepted the fact that the Dodgers were going to lose to the Cardinals. What I’m left with is a season that rewarded the true-blue fan who stuck it out through the heartless years. I can’t wait for next spring.

Big Sur
I also don’t write much about the kids and the family on social media, but this year was one of the best for us, as every year has been. We’re healthy, happy, secure financially and otherwise. Every year (well, for the past 4 years, which feels like a long time to the kids) we take a family camping trip to Big Sur. Ever since my wife and I lived in the Monterey area, that place has been a special one for me. It’s a peaceful place, a recharging place, and a place I look forward to visiting every time. This year we almost didn’t take our trip–we were the victims of a pretty bad hit-and-run just two days before we were scheduled to leave–but we ended up going, just for a shorter amount of time. I don’t have the words to describe how great it was.

There’s a bunch of other things that made this year a special one. Happily, daily life is filled with those. We had a few sad events, too; my grandma passed away last October at the age of 92 and my wife lost one of her life-long friends. Alas, that is also part of life. Some events happened to others but will undoubtedly be good things for us as a family. Like, just this week, my mother-in-law retired. With two retired parents of my own, I’ve come to see this event as the beginning of a new phase of life for everyone involved. And I know my kids are excited to see more of her in the year ahead.

And that year ahead will be filled with more than a few things to look forward to. Professionally, I have a few “book talks” planned in the Bay Area this coming spring. (In the academic world, these handful of speaking engagements might be the equivalent of a “book tour.”) The Summers Sandoval family is planning to change it up this summer and go visit Glacier National Park. And I think I might be moving forward in a big way on book #2.

And who knows what else. . .

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