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All in the Family

Approaching press time, we learned that tennis stars Bob and Mike Bryan, identical twin brothers from Camarillo, had taken the 2009 Barclays ATP World Tour Doubles Final in London and reclaimed the year-end #1 ranking. It’s the fifth time in seven years they’ve finished at the top of the heap, an extraordinary accomplishment from a couple of local boys. Good timing for us, too, considering we finally got on the ball with a Family-themed issue, including an interview with the Bryan brothers (p. 18), who managed to squeeze us in before filming with 60 Minutes.

We’d toyed with the idea of a Family issue but never quite pulled the trigger. To me it always seemed so, I don’t know, girlish, as if “Family” meant we had to focus on breast milk and hormones, excluding many of our readers. My mistake, of course. As it turns out, we managed to put together an inclusive mix of articles: the brothers’ interview, a profile of a mother-daughters trio of bakers in Ojai (p. 13), a story about a hip, modern beach house built to entertain three generations of a local family (p. 39), and a relatively new father’s perspective on family travel (p. 31).

That father of a toddler would be me. Before parenthood, I was a proud solo traveler: cruising the world, light on my feet, adaptable. Now I’m the guy I used to laugh at in the airport—the pack mule with the stroller. And you know what? It’s just as difficult as it looked from my elitist perch, smirking behind a Kerouac novel as that poor sap lugged a Toys R Us store through the terminal.

For all its attendant joys, parenthood is a pain in the neck. Mothers describe it more gently: “a lot of work,” they say (as they rub their neck). Dads tend to be apocalyptic. One of the most common refrains is, “Well, buddy, it’s all over now,” followed by a sympathetic pat on the back and the sharing of beer.

I wrote the Travel section from an honest perspective. Yes, raising a child is without question life’s most rewarding experience. It is life. It is also a supreme challenge, and it’s nice to get away at times. With that said, my wife and I are greatly looking forward to our second pain in the neck, due this summer. (I hear you laughing now: Just wait until they’re teenagers!)

As much as I love the big city, which is the focus of this month’s Travel story, I am at home in the country and prefer small town living. There’s something profoundly rewarding about dealing with individual people for goods and services: shopping for fruit at the farm, fish at the local harbor, meat from the butcher, bread from the baker. The realities of our economic system work against this, of course. But when you get past the bargain deals and convenience of one-stop big box stores, you find that a human element adds incomparable value. This was the main appeal of our story about Knead, an Ojai baking company run by Bobbi Corbin and her daughters, Leah and Rachel.

Our cover story came up in a roundabout sort of way. We were originally looking for a fantastical architectural wonderland designed with kids in mind. The kind of place where waterslides start at the bedroom window and weave through tree forts. And we actually found a couple, but they were either a little outside the county lines or just didn’t fit what we had in mind. It’s like that a lot—the hazy decision process, making each issue somehow cohesive while maintaining Ventana’s voice and style.

From an architectural perspective, the Seacliff beach house of Bill and Pam Hicks was a spot-on match. From there it just got better. The three daughters still live in Ventura (one runs the family-centric website VenturaParent.com), and we were able to corral a dozen members of the extended family for a photo shoot. Done deal. It’s our first Family-themed issue. Hope you enjoy. Please, take a moment and shoot me a quick email with any comments or suggestions. Thanks again.

12-01-2009

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