Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Snapshots of Summer

Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

We’re finally recovering from the swirl of summer activities, which yielded two packed albums.  Check out Summer 2017 and Swim Team 2017!

Mediterranean Meanderings

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

Summer 2015 began with 3 weeks exploring Istanbul and mainland Greece.

We have 15 albums to share the trip.

We have also posted the travelogues we were sending to loved ones as we recounted our day to day adventures. The photos and tales in the kids’ journals often give a different perspective from the main narrative in the albums. You could even say, perhaps, that they tell the true story….

Family at Temple of Poseidon

Summer 2013

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

After we returned from Alaska, we had three more big summer events — Evya’s fourth birthday, a stellar swim team season, and a trip to NYC!  Check out all the pictures from our packed summer…

summer O fun

Sensational Summer

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

In the ten weeks of Summer 2012, we traveled to Europe, Evya had a Pirate Party for her third birthday, we spent a week at Eel River, the kids did swim team, we had a visit from the Engelbrecht cousins, and Tyrian spent a week at Stanford.  Five cameras and 7756 pictures later, we have selected the most memorable images to share with you.  Come with us through the family Gallery as we reflect on our experiences.

Welcome, Evya Rose Smyth!

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

At 11:37 pm on July 14, 2009, Evya Rose joined the Smyth family.  She was 8 lbs 9 oz and 21 inches long at birth.

Evya Rose, 36 hours old

Her name is pronounced Eh-vee-yah.  Rose like the plant.

Hello, Summer!

Monday, June 29th, 2009

The baby is coming!
Allyndreth Goofy Scared
Last posting before our new co-star makes an entrance…

Happy New Year 2009!

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

While the world was topsy-turvy in 2008, our lives actually had more stability than in recent years. The kids continue in their beloved extracurriculars, and more amazingly, Matt and I both have the same jobs we had a year ago, albeit both with more responsibility and challenges. Generally, we’d have to give 2008 a good review.Tyrian and Allyndreth

Tyrian just turned 8 and is in 2nd grade. At his school, that means he now has actual homework to fit into his life, constant pre-tests and tests to assess progress, and only two recesses throughout the day. He has transitioned into this change of academic rigor better than we have. I’m afraid his teacher knows exactly how we feel about this approach to “learning,” and she has been flexible in customizing Tyrian’s day to suit his need to release energy and tap into his more creative thinking skills. Once he comes home, and gets that dreaded homework done, he continues to enjoy challenging his imagination with building projects – and Legos remain his medium of choice. A chance to do Lego Camp on the morning of his birthday even trumped his annual pancake breakfast birthday party on the morning of Dec. 24. Tyrian is now a green belt in Tae Kwon Do, and spends three afternoons a week at the dojang honing his skills in form and sparring. Master Yu feels strongly that Tyrian is a natural born fighter and would like to see him focus even more on sparring, but Tyrian is nonchalant about his gifts and is still coming around to the idea of actually working hard to be a strong contender in his weight class. We are watching with great interest from the sidelines to see if Master Yu’s gentle pressure yields any results. We wield a not-so-gentle pressure to get Tyrian to continue singing in choir, since we feel music education is a critical component to his development. He is slowly coming around to the idea of taking lessons on an instrument, so we’ll see where that goes.

Allyndreth is 5 1/2 and started Kindergarten this year. She is thoroughly enjoying it, even though at the September parent-teacher conference her teacher asked us what we expected Allyndreth to get from Kindergarten because she had tested beyond the curriculum. No big deal to us, since Allyndreth sees school as a social outlet rather than a bastion of learning. We’ll worry about challenging her in school next year since we know the 1st grade curriculum is more customizable. After school, Allyndreth has continued to nurture her love of movement through Tae Kwon Do (she is now a purple belt), gymnastics and dance. She also sings in choir. We had some tough choices to make in the latter part of the year. Over the summer, we changed dance schools from the more free-form, creative dance center she had attended since she was 3 to a more formal ballet school. This, in part, was because Allyndreth was eager to tap dance but the old school didn’t have much to offer a 5-year-old in that discipline. The new school required a placement audition, and during that process they said she qualified for Ballet 2, as well as tap. She was excited about that, so enrolled in two dance classes. What we didn’t expect was that 2 months later, she qualified to ascend to the performing level of the school, which means she is required to take two ballet classes a week. This is in addition to the tap she loves. She is also required to wear her hair in a bun, so Christina spent a frantic weekend practicing pulling Allyndreth’s signature A-line haircut into a wimpy little lump on her head. Needless to say, Allyndreth is now growing her hair out. Along with the promotion, Allyndreth was offered the opportunity to participate in the Christmas show at the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts. After a tearful weekend of family discussions, we decided that the rehearsal and performance schedule were too much for a 5-year-old and that this year, we would support the company in the audience. That doesn’t mean Allyndreth every truly accepted the decision and I’m not sure we’ll be able to hold her back next year.

Matt continues to enjoy his work at StubHub as SWAT Team manager, even more now that he has finally assembled a team that is hardworking and skillful enough to actually do the lion’s share of the work without Matt having to micro-manage. That leaves him free to turn his attention to helping shape future systems to increase efficiency and profitability, which is where his interests lie. For Christina, the children’s choir program at Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church continues to grow in popularity and quality. Along with directing two choirs, Christina is now the Children’s and Youth Choir Coordinator, which means she gets to keep everyone organized and on task regarding the weekly minutia and the long-term goals of the program. It’s a tailor-made job she created and pitched to the powers-that-be and they bought it. It was a role that was desperately missing from the program last year and so far, the feedback from the staff and congregation has been only positive.

Matt and Christina continue to sing in the Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church Chamber Singers, and a highlight of 2009 will be when we travel to the National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association, for which Chamber Singers has been selected as a featured choir. It is a huge honor, and comes with a lot of extra rehearsals and focus. The convention is in March in Oklahoma City, and Chamber is helping to introduce a new concept to the ACDA, which is the idea of a true Inter-Faith Service celebrating the common idea of Spirit that spans religions. It is something LOPC weaves into its ministry and our director, Dr. Julie Ford, has been given the opportunity to craft a service for the convention that imparts the way in which this universality can be shared in a common worship service. This adds an additional level of challenge to our preparations, but the choir strongly feels that in today’s world, it is the way we all need to start thinking.

Never forget, the pictures are worth (another) thousand words…

Preschool Pomp and Circumstance

Friday, June 13th, 2008

Allyndreth today joined the ranks of the elementary school student body as she graduated from preschool in a grand ceremony.

Graduate Allyndreth with Tyrian

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

Family Portrait December 2007

2007 in review: Here’s our holiday letter along with new December pictures!

Allyndreth is 4 1/2 going on 30. She was definitely born with an old soul, but her maturity, mental acumen and physical abilities continue to awe and amaze us. Plus, she is absolutely statuesque — many mistake her for a first grader. She goes to preschool three days a week and spends the rest of her time indulging her passion for movement. She goes to dance and gymnastics once a week, and Tae Kwon Do three times a week. She loves the grace and beauty of dance, the tricks and tumbling of gymnastics and the combination of strength and agility in Tae Kwon Do. Getting the opportunity to beat up boys in the dojang isn’t so bad either. In her “free time” Allyndreth has chosen to join two children’s choirs at Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church (LOPC), Sunbeams (pre-K/Kindergarten choir) and Psalmsters (1st-3rd grade choir). She is angling to join the church’s Gospel Choir as well.

Tyrian just turned 7 and continues to be a perpetual motion machine. His formal sport is Tae Kwon Do, which suits him well with his natural abilities in grace, strength and physicality. He’s always ready for a pick-up game of soccer, basketball, football, capture the flag or anything that involves running, running and more running. First grade has been a boon to him and his knowledge is exploding in the three Rs. His favorite subject is science and his school has a great science program to accommodate this interest. His teacher, Mrs. Blair, is one of our greatest blessings of 2007. Tyrian can build anything out of anything and is always involved in an engineering project of some sort. He is infinitely creative and we marvel at what his brain comes up with. He is also a gifted vocalist and sings in the Psalmsters choir at LOPC.

2007 brought Matt a new job. In the spring, he began BARTing to San Francisco to fulfill his new role as SWAT Team Manager at StubHub. Although he relishes the levels of responsibility and technical challenges at StubHub, the greatest fringe benefit has been the chance to bury his banker’s clothes deep in the closet and don jeans and a T-shirt again as God intended a dotcom guy to wear. On the side, Matt still does some consulting work for his own company, WebPlumbers, has myriad irons in the fire on personal projects and sings with the Chamber Singers at LOPC.

In the summer of 2007, Christina made a career shift from freelance writer to children’s choir director at LOPC. Through the fall she taught two classes for the Sunbeams choir and led one rehearsal a week for Psalmsters. Both programs are new to the church and have proven very successful in the first three months. Sunbeams is even launching a third weekly class starting in January to meet demand. Christina is continuing her writing by posting weekly columns on Art And About, the Web version of the entertaining soapbox column she used to write for Contra Costa Newspapers about the vital role the arts play in our daily lives. And she satisfies her love of singing as a member of the LOPC Chamber Singers. She continues to work her way through the house redecorating room by room. With only the laundry room left to transform, she is turning her design energy toward the backyard in early 2008. Poor Matt keeps thinking he gets to put his tools away…

May the New Year bring you peace of heart and joy of spirit!

Halloween Happenings

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

Ready for a fright? We’ve added new pictures four months in a row!

Head over to the Halloween Album!

In other news, Christina is now posting weekly columns on This is the Web incarnation of the Art and About column she used to write for the Contra Costa Sun. New columns go up on Sundays, and you can also link to the archive that has all her printed columns from 2001-2006.