Spring 2014

With the return of spring and the long up-side of Berkeley weather we are again spending copious hours in the garden, particularly on weekends when the whole family is at home together.

Willow is walking confidently, navigating stairs cautiously & loves the garden slide.


We built a few additional rock walls in the garden & leveled the “meadow” resulting in a truly useful patch of soft grass in our steep front yard. This enables lazy weekend picnics, lying on a rug staring at the clouds or fun races & games.

Though still predominantly incomprehensible, Willow continues to increase the sophistication of her vocalizations. Talking would be a generous description, but there are plenty of words attempted in her lengthening sentences & she conveys her intentions with relative ease using a mix of sign language, squealing & throwing of food. She’s napping ~1-2hrs after lunch but otherwise sleeps 7-7 like her two big sisters.

Easter was a wonderful occasion this year. All three girls were foraging for hidden treasures in the garden, and Zara was particularly stoked the easter bunny left a special treat in return for the thank-you note carefully placed amongst the oregano the night prior.


A month ago Zoe started a new job with Apple. This involves a regular commute ~ 90 minutes to Cupertino. It’s a contract position & the hours are variable but the work isn’t taxing & she’s enjoying a low-stakes intro to the organization. I’ve assumed the balance of color-science duties at Pixar, am representing the studio amongst international standards bodies & finding myself traveling to LA about once each month. I’m looking forward to a couple of weeks in Europe during September (Berlin/Amsterdam), perhaps a week in Boston & another in Vancouver if the timing works out with family.

We also have a pair of newcomers to the household. Yet-to-be-named he-cat & she-cat adopted from the local shelter last weekend.


They’re settling into their new home comfortably and enjoying each other’s company.
Video evidence here.


happy new year

Happy new year! I wish I had something insightful, poignant or cathartic to scribe but this missive will revolve around little more than our consuming, domestic routine.

As we conclude Winter break & look back on 2013 I feel so thankful for another wonderful year in Berkeley. We welcomed our little miracle Willow. Zara transitioned boldly into Kindergarten and Beatrix nailed her first trip to Australia with mum & baby sister.


All three girls continue to humble me daily. My parental naiveté is ever so slightly reduced as our youngest, Willow approaches her first birthday. I remember well my novice pre-parent days when the questions of nature vs nurture promised years of fascinating discovery. Now I submit readily to each of the girls’ respective personalities, recognizing how powerful those innate forces are from birth & my relative impotence to reshape same.

I’m still bicycling the two elder girls to their respective schools, detouring a luxurious hour each morning before arriving at the office. Next week Willow will join Beatrix at Pixar’s daycare when Zoe returns to full-time work in San Francisco and I’ll forego my commute exercise/excuse.

Though I’m hoping to ride all three girls on the bike eventually, in the short term I’ll likely drive them to school each morning in order to return home swiftly in the evening to wrangle the dinner/bath/bed routine while Zoe is in transit back across the bay.


Christmas was simple, quiet & homely. Zara & Beatrix decorated our live tree, brought ornaments they’d created at school and eagerly counted down the days until presents were opened on Christmas day.


A happy & fulfilling 2014 to you & your family from ours.
Dom, Zoe, Zara, Beatrix & Willow


Now that Zara has settled into Kindergarten I spent a week in Beijing supervising remastering efforts for Pixar’s latest film Monsters University. I’ve long wished to spend time in China and this first glimpse didn’t disappoint. My work was a huge success & I enjoyed ample time beyond formal commitments to explore the city & surrounds. Can’t wait to go back. Maybe I’ll visit Shanghai one day too!


Shortly after this China trip I spent 10 days in Amsterdam attending a conference while navigating the bureaucracy of my work visa, satisfying our immigration status here in the USA. The day after my return Zoe, Willow & Beatrix traveled to Australia with Ah Kong for 4 weeks & have just returned to Berkeley with Ah Mah who will stay with us for 3 weeks.


While the house was quiet, Zara & I had a thoroughly nourishing & relaxed month together. My work schedule was sedate & Zara’s kindergarten has been wonderful. We represented the family at a local wedding, took weekend trips to science museums, hung out with friends and relaxed into a luxurious, domestic steady-state without the need to compete for each other’s company.


Halloween 2013 was a blast. Zoe sewed amazing costumes for all 3 girls paying homage to the movie “My Neighbour Totoro” which Zara (Satsuki) & Beatrix (Mei) had recently seen on the big screen in Berkeley. Willow completely nailed the role of Totoro - tubby profile, absent speaking lines.


Trick or treating with friends was also adorable. In contrast to last year, the kids actually appear desirous of the candy they collected ….


Now that we’re all back together again I’m really looking forward to the festive year-end & the simple, cosy excess of family & friends in hearty celebration of each other. We are together. I’m humbled & blessed.


the final countdown


This past week, our our brave soldier (17 year old bengal kitty Nick) shared his final days with us before passing into the next world. After losing quite a bit of weight this year, in the wee hours one morning his breathing became shallow and he rapidly lost his balance so we rushed him to the emergency vet but by 3am his time had come & we said our last goodbyes.


We shared a family’s quota of kleenex with the girls when they awoke later that morning. Zara remembered the positive turning point (pictured here) when Nick finally trusted her sufficiently to fall asleep & purr as she patted him.


We’re privileged to have shared his final years. On his last night, Nick made his rounds of the neighborhood (was very eager to get outside) then returned to the house & jumped onto Zoe & my laps for a cuddle. We’ll miss you kitty cat, it’s not the same without you.


After strutting home with 4 band-aids adorning her puny shoulders, Sulky McWeeperson [Zara] posed a question over the dinner table this evening;

"Daddy why did I get 4 injections today?"

Bub, I'm very proud of you …. you didn't even cry! These last 4 injections contain medicine for your body to help it stay healthy, so you & all the other children at school don't get sick.

"I was sick last week."

Yeah, but this medicine stops you getting really bad sicknesses like measles & mumps.

“ha haa! [snort]….Mumps! …. [snort] …. Mumps isn't a real word daddy!"

Sure it is bub, mumps is the name of a disease.

[solemn]“What happens when you get mumps?”

Well, you feel really awful, your cheeks swell up like a chipmunk, and your body hurts

“Daddy, I had 4 injections this morning … my body hurts already"


The school year in Berkeley commenced this week and Zara’s first day of kindergarten was Wednesday.

Her first three days were spent sampling amongst the three kindergarten classes at her school while the teachers determine the ideal mix of students for each classroom, ensuring a balance of capabilities & personalities in each room.

Zara’s school is a 1 mile walk downhill from our house which eases the logistic burden, despite the 7:50am drop off. We’ve been spending 20 minutes with the class each morning reading before the teachers shoo misty-eyed parents from the room.


A new backpack (matching her lunch bag) eased the first morning’s trepidation (which was brought about mostly by the early wakeup) and despite a little nervousness upon arrival each morning, Zara is handling the transition to “real school” wonderfully.

One of Zara's imagined creations (a car carier) from her tegu blocks

She’s socially & academically advanced for her age and will hopefully make many new friends amongst her peers.


Ah Kong is again with us in Berkeley, easing the logistic load of the household & spending precious time with his granddaughters.


He’ll travel with Zoe, Willow & Beatrix back to Australia for a month after I return to Berkeley from Amsterdam.



Beatrix celebrated her third birthday today, chocolate cake & presents with the family close @ home together.

She has a trip to Australia planned in about a month with Zoe & Willow. We’ve been slowly introducing the idea to Zara (it’s Beatrix’s third birthday trip ….) who will remain behind with me during her first weeks of Kindergarten.


Bix is a happy, robust, bold, easygoing kid. Exploring her “terrible threes”, she’s hardly adept at getting anyone offside for more than a couple of seconds before her cheeky grin melts all frustration around her. She loves her sisters, and is a proficient nap-ninja.


Love you Bix.