Happy Holidays Family and Friends,
You’re probably as shocked as we are that yet another year has come to an end and we welcome 2014. I had always looked ahead to this particular year as a marker … 20 years ago (1994) I bought this Santa Monica house that we live in to this day, and we continue to try to transform it into the chic modern house we know it can be. The other date is 30 years ago (1984), when I took that now infamous solo bicycle ride from New York to San Diego, which literally changed my life and brought me to the happy place I’m in today with my incredible family of one husband and three sons. I’m a full-fledged stay at home Dad now, and have never been more content, more tired, more in love, or more fat. And other than one 10K running race to raise money for the school (in which the baby and I won the stroller division), I can’t list much in the achievement column except for adding twelve months of activities, experiences, knowledge, and love to our three sons’ lives. For that I am grateful and proud.
Speaking of proud, Alen has continued to wow the family with his career achievements. His knowledge of end-of-life care and palliative medicine has received accolades from around the nation, and I am not exaggerating. His continued work with HIV patients has inspired other physicians to follow suit. Our family-owned wellness clinic continues to grow exponentially, thanks to Alen’s medical direction. And if he was not busy enough, Alen was accepted into the Kelley Business of Medicine MBA Program at prestigious Indiana University. He just received straight A’s in his first semester (the dude is smart.) The boys and I miss him when he travels monthly for a three-day stint (the rest is online), but the homecoming is always sweet. He manages to work on everything and yet still has plenty of time for his family. For that I am grateful and proud.
Our oldest son Devin is now a certified 6-½ year old teenager in first grade. How did he become so cool with his school chums, so agile on his feet, and so comfortable in his skin? Devin loves reading his chapter books and writing some too. He loves being quizzed in Math and challenged with puzzles. He continues to take Spanish Immersion after school twice per week, plays on the basketball team and takes swim lessons at the Y, a little gymnastics, and rounds it all off with a weekly Crossfit workout class with his brother and other classmates. Devin is kind, caring, with a great big heart. For that I am grateful and proud.
Our middle son Dylan wavers between wanting to be more independent like his older brother and wanting to be cradled like his younger one, so we give him both, which seems to suit him just fine. Flourishing in his kindergarten class (where I am the room parent this year), Dylan loves math and art, and is just beginning to read signs as we drive around town. He has enjoyed after school Spanish class, gemology, Top Chef class, Lego, and Pop Star classes. He likes his weekly gymnastics class and has tolerated his jazz dance class, although he has expressed interest in giving tap-dancing a try. Like his brother, he also works out at Crossfit weekly and at the pool twice per week. He still has yet to eat a slice of bread in his life, but he has managed to add at least a couple of new foods to his extremely limited diet. It hasn’t affected his growth, however. As he has since he was one year old, he ranks in the 128th percentile for height and weight. He towers over everyone in his class, and wears bigger clothes than my 10-year old nephew Jackson. He aspires to be a veterinarian some day, which I can envision because he is nurturing and sensitive. For that I am grateful and proud.
Our baby Dustin, now 13 months, has transformed into a toddler right in front of our eyes. With over half of his baby teeth present, he is enjoying, and willing to try, many different foods, although fat-free milk is still his favorite. All signs point to another big boy: at his doctor’s appointment his weight and height ranked at the 95th percentile. He is doing everything except walking, but we are not rushing him into anything. He loves his weekly music class at the park across the street from our house (both Devin & Dylan went to this same class.), and will start a gym & swim class at the YMCA in January. At the moment he cannot get enough of Alen (can’t blame him for that), but he is such a happy-go-lucky boy who waves and yells Hi! to everyone he sees. He loves his older brothers, and they are already showing him “the ropes” and lots and lots of love, and Dustin does likewise. For that I am grateful and proud.
This summer we tried bungee jumping for the first time. Alen loved it, I’m still nauseous from it, and the boys were traumatized by watching it. We also continued our tradition of vacationing right after school let out for the summer. Last year was Costa Rica and this year was Puerto Rico. All three boys seem to really love the tradition, so we will keep it up each year, making memories to last a lifetime. Speaking of traditions, California finally came to its senses and allowed all of our friends to marry, just as we did in 2008. Seventeen states in the US now have legal same-sex marriage, and we hope by our next letter that even more states will realize that our family deserves the right to express our love and commitment just like anybody else. We are all about love and commitment. For that I am grateful and proud.
Love and wishes for a great New Year,
John, Alen, Devin, Dylan, & Dustin