It Begins….

Welcome to the new & (hopefully) improved Pickle Patch! A brief explanation of the history: the original Pickle Patch was launched in 2008 so that friends and family could keep up with our firstborn daughter, Fiona, as we spent two months traveling on the East Coast. Three years and two additional daughters later, our family is in the process of the most joyful and intense period of change in our history.

On March 1, our latest daughter arrived: Georgia Elizabeth Hope Gong (5 lbs. 8 oz., 18″ long). Everyone in our family, especially her two big sisters, is in love with this new little girl. Despite my fervent wish for a “laid-back” child, Georgia appears to be a typical Gong girl: alert, strong, very happy, and already (in the words of her big sister) “talking up a storm!”

On May 15, Erick’s five years of intense work were rewarded with a PhD from UC Berkeley’s Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics. If you’re interested, his dissertation was titled, “Essays on the Effects of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.”And if you’re really excited by statistical analysis, you can access his lead paper here.


Erick’s work was further rewarded with an actual job, as Assistant Professor of Economics at Middlebury College, in Middlebury, VT. Therefore, in one week we will move from this house in Berkeley, CA:

to this house in Middlebury, VT:

It’s going to be a big transition for all of us. Having resided the past decade of our lives in cities (NYC and Berkeley), it’s going to be an adjustment to living in small-town New England (Middlebury’s population is roughly 8,200, of which approximately 2,000 are students at the college). To make this point visually, here is our “yard” in California:

And here is our yard in Middlebury:

Having spent the past five years in the Bay Area — or in the case of our daughters, their entire lives — we’re no longer used to experiencing all four seasons (one of which will be particularly frigid and snowy, as I recall!).

And, of course, there’s the matter of our community of friends and family here in the Bay Area, all of whom we will miss desperately.

That said, we’re excited for this move, which we think will be wonderful for our entire family. We love the idea of our girls growing up in a very family-friendly small town, and becoming rugged and outdoorsy in a region that encourages time spent in nature. From what we’ve already seen of Middlebury and our new house, we hope and expect that we’ll spend a good long time there.  And that may well be the biggest adjustment. With relatively few breaks, Erick and I have spent most of our adult lives moving, following jobs or graduate degrees. In the past 15 years of my life, I’ve moved 7 times — that’s roughly every 2 years. And I’ve gotten to be pretty good at moving; saying goodbye and pulling up the stakes. So the thought of staying, of committing to a house and a town, is an unknown challenge. (But with a professor’s life comes the nice perk of year-long sabbaticals every 4 years, which we hope to use for international travel to assuage our wanderlust!)
This has been a long-winded way of saying that major life changes seemed to merit a new blog, a fresh start. Aside from the new address and new look, here are a couple of other changes:

  • While there will still be plenty of stories/photos of the girls, the purpose of this blog is to share the images/reflections/experiences of our entire family’s life in Vermont. So, expect the subject matter to be more broad and be prepared to suffer through some news from the adult world in addition to cute kid pictures.
  • I was a pretty spotty blog writer before; I now have an additional child and a whole family to move cross-country and get adjusted to a new life. So my goal is to post one new blog entry each month. Any more than that will be a bonus.

Frankly, I’ve always been uncomfortable with the self-centered nature of blogging — aside from our parents, very few people find us even moderately interesting. But as the number of people we’ve moved away from grows even larger, I embrace this blog as a lazy way to keep in touch with absent friends and family. In other words, don’t complain that you never hear from us, just read our blog!!

Vermont or bust!

One thought on “It Begins….

  1. zoe

    love the new blog Faith! Excited for the monthly updates and hoping for lots of bonuses. 🙂 We’re so happy for you, Erick, and the girls, and can’t wait for several north-east meet ups!!

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