Happy Anniversary, Hither & Thither!

It’s been nine years since Aron and I began writing Hither & Thither, and each year I like to take a look back and remember all that has happened—it’s just convenient that it happens to fall around the same time as the New Year!

Because so much of the content is drawn from our family life, there’s a special pleasure in going through each post. Often I can recall taking a specific photo almost in that Proustian sense: the moment’s sensations come flooding back as if I’ve just bitten into the madeleine.

I continue to be astonished at how different every year has been when it comes to writing the blog. This year, I started off by reducing the number of posts per week and really took a step back from sponsored content, but I confess I still feel like I’ve forgotten something or am playing hooky on days I don’t post—I think because I’ve been doing it for so long! I’m still trying to find the right balance. The kids are both in school until at least one o’clock right now, so I usually work on the site in the mornings. I suppose it’s my own shortcoming that I mostly write day-to-day, rather than planning far ahead. One of my goals this year is to invite more contributors, which would necessitate a more strict editorial calendar.

In the meantime, I’m always eager to write about what interests you most and appreciate all of your feedback. I truly am grateful to those of you who keep reading and who keep commenting, and I read every comment and try my best to reply. Do let me know if there’s anything in particular you’re looking forward to.

Thank you so much for spending your time here! With the usual lack of brevity, here are some highlights from the past year…

In January, like many, I revisited Emma Lazarus’s sonnet, The New Colossus, to try to remember what principles we as Americans hold dear. The Women’s March of Washington (and around the globe) was a much-needed bright spot. I learned about Cosmic Kids yoga and relied on it to brave some snowstorms with the kids. We replaced nap time with quiet time. And we all discussed what people really mean when they call a destination “family friendly.”

In February, I shared the details of our family trip to Disneyland. Skyler turned three, and I shared photos from her music- and cake-filled party. We added a new entry to the 5 Things Travel Series (Phoenix!), and Aron and I had a weekend getaway to Las Vegas. We did some gardening and added a row of agaves to our backyard, inspired by one of my favorite pools in Los Angeles. We talked about what we eat when we’re home alone.

March brought out the blossoms. We always try to take pictures of the kids when the Almond trees bloom and they’re always some of my favorites. I talked about how to beat jet lag (in anticipation of a long-haul flights), reflected on how failure leads to learning, and gave some suggestions for a daytrip to Petaluma.

In April, we returned from our anniversary trip to Thailand—one of my favorite vacations ever—and we talked about helping kids keep a travel journal. Meanwhile, everyone else in California was talking about the “superbloom!” and the finale of Girls. We also discussed personality quizzes (and which of you is taking them and why), as well as birthday-cake traditions. (Store bought? Yay or nay?) Finally, I shared tips for visiting the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco and some scenes from our Easter holiday.

May was a big month, for me at least! I finished and shared travelogues from Bangkok (parts one and two), an elephant camp in Khao Sok, and the island of Ko Yao Noi, off of Phuket.

We celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary with a spa weekend in Calistoga, along with Mother’s Day (my new favorite holiday) with a day at Scribe winery with the kids. I shared the recipe for a perfect blank canvas, an all-occasion olive oil cake, as well as tackled the question of best boxed-cake mixes. We talked table manners for kids and getting the green out of swimmers’ hair. Finally, I got to skip town on a girls’ trip to Palm Springs!

June when I realized that diaries and memoirs are one of my favorite genres, and was grateful for all the suggestions! I waded through all of the conflicting sunscreen advice and shared my conclusion about favorites. We shared where we get our beauty advice. Our family spent a spring weekend in Lake Tahoe, which prompted me to make a summer to-do list, and celebrated Father’s Day. I also shared some tips, like how to care for your summer hat, how to organize LEGO collections, and how to make better tasting coffee at home.

We stuck close to town at the start of July to catch parades and fireworks on the Fourth, and to celebrate Hudson’s sixth birthday, and watched the nearby fields fill with tomatoes and sunflowers. We enjoyed our fair share of no-oven, al fresco meals to combat the heat, including a few memorable ones on our first camping trip with the kids!

And at the end of the month, we escaped the high temperatures to Lake Tahoe: I finally got around to sharing pictures of our cabin, which we call “Two Pines.” Hudson got a kid-sized kayak for his birthday and we got a new perspective on the lake. Our day trip to D.L. Bliss State Park was a highlight.

Also this month: I talked about trying the Whole 30 diet, and visiting Color Factory and the Ruth Bancroft garden in the Bay Area.

August began with some of the best comments on a post about parenting tricks. I learned how to make the most delicious frozé, when I started working with my favorite local grocery. We took a trip to Oahu with family, and I took a brief break from blogging while we enjoyed the last days of summer. Of course our lives also changed dramatically this August when my mother had brain surgery, and it was good to have some extra downtime. I did, however, have a bit of writer’s block when I returned.

In September, you shared some awesome suggestions for places to stay in San Francisco, and I shared my itinerary for my birthday day-trip into the city. Everyone loved this fall fashion post, and I learned I need to include more style posts, more often. The kids went back to school—Hudson with a patched-up backpack. My mind is still blown by these colored-pencil drawings that look like oil paintings. I also shared quite a few travelogues: First from our trip to Oahu: Waikiki, the North Shore, and the Aulani. And second, a daytrip to Hog Island Oyster Company.

October was ushered in with national tragedy, and it was a tough time to be online to weather so many bitter debates on gun laws. More pleasant was getting away to Lake Tahoe and seeing the Salmon spawning at Taylor Creek, and tagging along with Aron on a work trip to Palm Springs. For that long drive, we gathered a list of podcasts for kids—and it has proved invaluable since! We planned our costumes for Halloween (here’s what we ended up doing), celebrated Aron’s birthday, and drove up to Apple Hill to usher in autumn. On the fashion front, we talked about how the Scandinavians stay dry, how to get out any stain, and about one of my favorite local brands’ latest collections.

This year, more than ever, November truly felt like the start of the holiday season. The month began and ended with holiday shopping suggestions, and somewhere in between we celebrated Thanksgiving! I shared trip logs from our day in Half Moon Bay and on the San Mateo coast—where we celebrated Aron’s birthday—and from my weekend in Southern California (just me and the kids). We also went to an usually high number or concerts and lectures—it was a memorable month, with Samantha Bee, Pete Souza, Andrew Bird, Guns N Roses, and Tori Amos! Also around here, we covered other topics, from getting involved in politics to hosting holiday cookie-exchanges.

December came quickly, it seemed! Even our town tree lighting took place in November this year, so we hit the ground running when it came to holiday activities. I enjoyed learning about everyone’s favorite Christmas-themed books, as we pulled out some new ones. We talked crafting with kids and made snowglobes in Ball jars, and we talked about another kind of jar—the jingle jar—a charitable tradition to start. I decided that Fleur de Sel is the new wine-alternative when it comes to host gifts, shared our methods for backing up our photos and protecting our memories, and talked about some favorite dresses and jumpsuits for going to parties. Finally, I shared photos from our family holidays.

Thank you for another wonderful year! It’s incredible to take stock and see all that has happened. In doing so, I get a chance to revisit many of your comments and I appreciate all the more that you continue to read along. The only bittersweet part is seeing how fast the kids are growing!

P.S. Last year’s recap, and the one before that.

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