Monday, January 28, 2013

Team Gong 2012

Like most years, we had a limited run of our Christmas greeting cards. So here is the digital version. Don't worry, you are only seeing this approximately 10 days after everyone who received a physical card.

Merry Christmas and Happy 2013!

Team Gong 2012 - Enterprise Fact Sheet

Our Mission: Team Gong maximizes family fun by leveraging existing and future opportunities, through education, music, quantitative reasoning, nap time, and responsible citizenship. Now in its eighth year of operation, Team Gong is revenue-positive, with a 100% increase in headcount over the last 30 months. Team Gong enjoys extensive venture backing from Lindsay Associates, Olsen Inc., Bronson & Bronson, and the Greater Gong Dynasty.

Our Team: Once again, Abe did not finish his dissertation this year, but rest assured that he is "close." With the tome underway and a nod from his committee, he set out for California to start a job—a real job!—as data scientist at Jawbone. In this position, he creates many graphs (some of them pretty), and uses small computers to make people sleep more and run longer distances. Abe is excited to be returning to the Ancestral Gong Home in Palo Alto, +/- 50 miles. 

In 2012, Erin completed several strategic planning and evaluation contracts with Michigan libraries and museums, leaving her with greater professional confidence and a growing dislike for elements of Michigan's Tea Party. With help from friends, family, and Amazon, she published her first book, alphAmuse. 

Jonah, our resident expert on all things Truck, turned 2 this year. His recent accomplishments include running rapidly in circles, counting to 100, the phrase "May I please have...?", and a lasting mutual friendship with Hopeful Penguin. When next you see him, Jonah will likely oblige you with a rousing chorus of "Waltzing Matilda.” 

Addy joined Team Gong on March 9 of this year. At 9 months old, she is proficient at crawling, eating solid foods, and gathering the family for meals. We've found her to be a cheerful and adorable explorer (and occasional pickpocket) with no great liking for socks.

Our Values: Our family is brave and cheerful, reverent and awesome. We are soft and share with friends. We do not throw cups or pull hair.

We've Moved! Our new premises are at “The Penthouse” in Mountain View, CA 94040. Please update your rolodex accordingly.

Friday, January 25, 2013

friday photos

A few outtakes from the past month.

Xena engaged in her favorite past time. So long, asparagus tip.

Enjoying the sandbox.

Genghis helps me make cookies. He is thinking about grabbing an entire ball of dough. I am in-the-ready.

Xena "I like to feel the wind in my hair" Gong.

Genghis giving Xena a ride on the train. His narration, as he carefully pushed her across the deck:
"Be careful. Watch out. We are going to crash in to the fence. Here we go. We are going to crash. Watch out!"


no injuries

Genghis posing in the awesome sweater vest my mom knitted him for Christmas.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

friday photos - sneak peak

First off, a sneak peak of our new apartment. This is our deck. I think it was advertised as 800 square feet. The sandbox is a bit lonely out there.

Now, some random photos of the kids. Since coming to a new place and figuring out new routines, Genghis and Xena have had a lot more playtime together. So here are some pictures of them around the house or around the park, which is where we mostly are these days.

Note: Genghis' underwear was a first feeble attempt at potty training. Not successful.

Genghis is wearing Xena's shirt. Xena, as usual, wears nothing. 

 What's she looking at?

Oh yes, him again.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

2012 Reading List and Stats

While I'd like to complain that my life is nothing but work, work, work, my reading list for 2012 suggests otherwise. I managed to squeeze in 46 books (most of which I finished). Here's the overall list followed by some stats, commentary, and Erin Book Awards: 2012.

Fiction: Sci Fi / Fantasy
The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), by Brandon Sanderson
The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1), by Patrick Rothfuss
The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), by Brandon Sanderson
Elantris, by Brandon Sanderson
Enchantment, by Orson Scott Card
The Awakened (The Awakened #1), by Jason Tesar

Fiction: General
A Girl Named Zippy, by Haven Kimmel
Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger
A Very Private Gentleman, by Martin Booth
Master and Commander (Aubrey/Maturin #1), by Patrick O'Brian
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium #1), by Stieg Larsson
Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri
Falling Uphill, by Wendy Tokunaga
Hostile Witness (Witness Series #1), by Rebecca Forster
Transfer of Power, by Vince Flynn
Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri
In the Company of Cheerful Ladies (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #6), by Alexander McCall Smith
The Kalahari Typing School for Men (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #4), by Alexander McCall Smith
Whose Body?  (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries #1), by Dorothy L. Sayers
The Mysterious Affair At Styles (Hercule Poirot #1), by Agatha Christie
Her Royal Spyness (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries #1), by Rhys Bowen
Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine

Fiction: Classics
Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne
Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell
Anne of Avonlea (Anne of Green Gables #2), by L.M. Montgomery
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne
The Three Musketeers (The D'Artagnan Romances #1), by Alexandre Dumas
The Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux
Les Misarables, by Victor Hugo
A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
Persuasion, by Jane Austen

Non-Fiction: General
South, by Ernest Shackleton
Beethoven - His Life and Music, by Robert Greenberg
Beyond Band of Brothers: The war memoirs of Major Dick Winters, by Dick Winters
The Civil War (American Heritage), by Bruce Catton
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

Non-Fiction: Parenting & Kids
Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, by Pamela Druckerman
Pete Seeger's Storytelling Book, by Pete Seeger
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, by Amy Chua
Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, by Peggy Orenstein
Between Parent and Child: The Bestselling Classic That Revolutionized Parent-Child Communication, by Haim G. Ginott
Toilet Training in Less Than a Day, by Nathan H. Azrin
The New Strong-Willed Child, by James C. Dobson
Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child: Eliminating Conflict by Establishing Clear, by Firm, by and Respectful Boundaries, by Robert J. MacKenzie
1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12, by Thomas W. Phelan

  • 39% (18) of books read on Kindle, compared with 0% in 2011
  • 24% (11) of books audio (on Kindle)
  • 17% (8) of books were re-reads
  • According to Goodreads, I read 11,382 pages this year. That's 32 pages a day. 
  • A full 13% of those pages came from Les Misarables
  • 9% came from The Way of Kings by Branson Sanderson (sheepish look)
  • The mean (average) original publication date of my reading list was 1967. Median (middle) was 2000. Mode (most frequent) was 2011.
  • I read a lot of random books this year (particularly in the fiction category) because they were available for free (or immediately at my library) on the Kindle.
  • For the same reason, I read more classics than I normally would.
  • I would like to branch out my non-fiction reading to include more non-parenting books. Kids get easier after 2 1/2 anyway, right? Right??
  • I like sci-fi and fantasy. Not the really crazy into it kind, but the crowd-pleasers.
  • I do not like chick lit. I knew this in my soul, but re-committed this year.
Erin Book Awards: 2012
  • Most hilarious: A Girl Named Zippy
  • Great find: Pete Seeger's Storytelling Book
  • Weirdest reading experience: A Very Private Gentleman (book about a man who makes custom guns for assassins, which I listened to at 3am every night while nursing newborn Xena).
  • Most proud of: Les Misarables
  • Most well-written: Peace Like a River
  • Most forgettable: Whose Body?
  • Most controversial: Bringing Up Bebe or Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
  • Likely candidate for a re-read: A Girl Named Zippy or The Civil War

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


I have officially survived what has been the most trying 6 weeks of my life thus far. (Perhaps I shouldn't admit that, since I can think of at least two dozen other scenarios that would be harder than what I went through, but ... there it is.)

At the end of November, Abe flew out to California to start his new job in San Francisco. I stayed in Michigan with the kids and spent the next 4 weeks packing our house, arranging the moving logistics, and preparing our condo for our departure. Not to mention finishing a major work project and taking care of the kids. Aside from that and sleeping each night, I did nothing else. My to-do list felt never-ending and my energy level was at an all-time low. Also, the day before we were scheduling to leave (and coincidentally the day I had a culminating meeting and presentation for work), we all came down with the flu.

Somehow, I made it through my meeting and we all made it onto the plane the next day. Seven hours of plane travel with the kids seemed pretty easy compared to what I'd been doing. But I must have looked pretty spent. When the plane landed on the first leg of the journey, I was leaning against Genghis's car seat and didn't move while everyone else deplaned. I heard the person behind me say, "I think she's dead".

Reuniting with Abe was a great relief. Eating off of the floor for two days with two children under 3 while waiting for our belongings was not.

The ray of hope in all of this was a glorious 5 days off that Abe would have over Christmas, just after we arrived. Unfortunately, his first day off he was down and out with the flu we were all just starting to get over.

But I think we've made it through. We have mostly unpacked and settled into a spacious and comfortable penthouse apartment in the San Francisco Bay area (about an hour out of the city). More on the apartment later. We celebrated Christmas and New Year's and have been enjoying family time. More pictures of that later. Abe is better and I've had two wonderful days in a row of sleeping in while he's had the kids. Tomorrow I might actually make a fresh "to-do" list to start off our new life here, which would mean I'm feeling back to my old self again.

So Happy New Year! I couldn't have asked for a better one.