Thursday, December 24, 2015

Looking back on 2015

Loath though I may be to contribute to the continued decline of the US Postal Service, another year has gone by without a proper seasonal letter, and so be it. I do keep up with the blog, at least, so those who care to keep up with what's going on with me and the family can certainly do so.

For starters, the picture. It is a little blurry, and for that my photographer wife will surely upbraid me, but to my mind this is the picture of the year. Natalie first speculated that she might be able to still lift Graham, despite the fact that he was almost as tall as she was, and then she went and did it. Mostly I'm picking this picture for the smiles, which seem entirely natural to me. I love them both, and it is great to see them loving one another -- and expressing it.

So what did we do this year?  Natalie did... Duke TIP and debate and mock trial and model UN and ultimate frisbee, and still found time to get good grades and bury her nose in her iPhone to text with BFFs and binge watch a variety of shows, even while pouring milk into her breakfast cereal in the morning. Some very skilled multi-tasking at that. A real highlight of my year was watching "Parks and Rec" with her, even when she plunked her feet in my lap and more or less demanded a foot rub. No need for assertiveness training with this one!

Graham has successfully transitioned into middle school at Phillips, my old stomping grounds. He continued to progress to ever darker and more imposing belts at his martial arts studio, took up and studied chess, and generally continued to astound us with his erudition and curiosity. I don't know where that came from. Graham and I watched through all of the original "Star Trek" together, and have since turned the corner into "The Next Generation," which is plenty good.

Mary continues to deepen her engagement with the local autism and other special needs community and has been progressing through a new body of photographs of people with autism.  Her new web site is up and running at On all of our household's behalf, she continues in her role as Chief Health and Nutrition Officer, ever more insistently pushing us in the direction of eating lower on the food chain, with less animal-based protein. However grumpy I may get from time to time, I remain grateful for her for taking care of all of us. Trader Joe loves us too!

As for me, 2015 has been the year my financial planning and advisory practice has gathered steam. Really my focus has needed to be on that, on chilling with my family as much as possible, exercise, and sleep. It has not been an easy year to build a practice, given the frisky markets. Market uncertainty may have helped me bring clients in, as it rattles people's faith in their own decision-making ability, but it hasn't been always been fun taking the responsibility for people's financial health in an stressful times. But that's how we learn things, by doing them, and doing them diligently and honorably.

Mostly, we must remain grateful for the fact that everybody remains healthy. I didn't even hurt myself playing soccer this year. I have been to funerals over the last couple of years of contemporaries as well as people younger than me, to say nothing of people's parents. All the people in my inner circle remain good as far as we know, and that's not chopped liver. May it continue to be so in the New Year.

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