Saturday, December 5, 2009

Holiday Letter 2009

As we begin to wind down 2009 and I realize I'm already late in crafting a holiday letter, I do want to spend a minute and give a quick update on all of our worlds which are busy and happy.


This was a big year for Bob, he was talked out of his successful career as an independent contractor to join full time at Zoom systems. A company that does *not* sell vending machines, they are in "automated retail" thank you very much ;-).

Being the savvy person he is, Bob got in just in time for us to attend the holiday party next week. While he will miss his flexibility and casual monday mornings, he is looking forward to being part of a team again and having a nice office in the city doesn't hurt either.


I continue to work for ORCL and keep myself busy blogging professionally. My big professional accomplishment this year was getting accepted to attend the TEDActive conference next February. I'm already looking forward to experiencing that event.


As a full time first grader Ashton is getting used to homework and spelling lists. She is an outstanding student who helps bring order to chaos wherever she goes. Teachers shake their heads as they tell us how Ashton can get her entire table in line with her plan for whatever she thinks they should be doing.


Jaq is very clear in the fact that this is her last year at Preschool. She really enjoys being the "older" one there and is more forthcoming with stories from school than her sister ever was.

She continues to amaze her parents with her ability to remember things (especially those you might hope she didn't notice). She has a keen ability to piece together multiple sources of information into her own conclusions. I can only imagine what this will look like when she gets older. At age four, it's pretty impressive to watch.

We continue to be grateful for all the people in our lives, and for the blessings we have been given. Thank you all for being a part of our lives. We hope that your holiday is as richly blessed as our own.

Bob, Meg, Ashton and Jacqueline Bear

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Giving Thanks

Every year we have so much to be thankful for and this year is no different. We were blessed with a house full of guests and good food this holiday.

We had a full house with Dad, Suzie and the girls, Sean (Tash's boyfriend) and Max, Caren, Isaac and Dante joining us. We also had Rebel (Tash's dog).
I must say, with all humility everything turned out on time and perfectly! Seriously this turkey didn't just look great, it was great.

Bob and I did the Turkey, stuffing and hosting, with Bob doing the lion's share of the "moving of stuff" to make room for two tables and extra seats. I managed to find matching tableclothes which was a huge bonus and with the help of Jani's extra wine glasses and a few "wrong size" forks to cover for those that seemed to have grown legs and walked away we set a table for 13.

We had wisely farmed out most of the sides, desserts and appetizers to Natasha, Judy, Suzie and Caren.

I must also give a shout out to Isaac, who took lead on being pressured about his college plans from everyone at the table as this gave lively, non-politics based conversation for everyone to enjoy (except probably Isaac but who's counting).

And finally, while Raider was not actually at the event, I had to include this excellent photo of the dogs playing together with Grandpa Bob while the rest of us where in Orlando. Isn't it great when family has so much fun together?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Orlando Extravaganza

We are just back from a fantastic Disney/Universal endurance event that the Bear clan not only met but exceeded expectations.

In addition to all the usual suspects, we also got to meet Natasha's boyfriend Sean who held up quite well under the strain of traveling with our group, even if he was not completely clear on what the colors black and red look like.

Thanks to Papa Terry we had a lifetime supply of cheap park tickets and we were all determined to get our money's worth taking only one day off to enjoy the pool. We managed to see all 4 Disney theme parks (Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Wild Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios) and both of the Universal ones.

Of course, I have a slew of interesting photos to share but decided to stick with the ones I bought from the Disney photographers since those were the only "group shots" we bothered to get. I'm especially fond of this one of Suzie and the girls. Cute!

Another favorite was this "all girls" shot of our day at the Animal Park. Speaking of girls, our girls were troopers. They did great on the flights (with connections) and were very enthusiastic about the rides. They loved the pool, trooping upstairs to see the cousins in their condo and being generally spoiled. In fact, it was only the first day that was pretty rough with them just too tired to really enjoy themselves.

Thanks Grams and Papa Terry! This was a really wonderful trip/reunion.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween 09

Of course, this year's Halloween had to be a Star Wars focused one. Even Daddy was drawn into the mix as Obi Wan with Ashton as Queen Amidala and Jacqueline as Ahsoka

Having no interest in joining in the Star Wars theme I went my own way getting a Poodle skirt and accessories. You might see me in this outfit again as it was comfortable and easy to wear. I was hoping to skip an outfit all together but Ashton was having none of that and I've learned in the last few years that while masks sound like a great idea they actually make it hard to keep an eye on the kids.Grandpa Bob joined again to help with the chaos that is the Burlingame candy rush. His costume got a lot of positive comments as well with his "H1N1 specialist" name tag and the gloves came in handy for the slew of kids we came in contact with.
Not only did we give out candy but we also had adult drinks to share with the neighbors as well. In addition this year each of the girls had an opportunity to go trick-or-treating with some neighborhood friends. This was an added bonus for all involved.

Halloween continues to be one of my favorite holidays in Burlingame.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

KOA Camping

Well calling this "camping" might be a bit of a stretch. Kathi and crew were in RVs and we were in rented Cabins. We were, however, really enjoying ourselves with lots of family to visit with an tons of kids to play with. Add to that a camp environment setup for kids and you have a recipe for a great weekend. Bonus points for it being so easy being between Dad's and Suzie's house in Petaluma.

It was especially great that Grandpa Bob and Auntie Linn joined us a "day trippers".

The highlight of the trip for the girls was the power cars that Kathi brought.

Both girls took several trips around the park and even managed to pick up a few strangers along the way (?!) with a random kid deciding it was her turn to jump on.

We only had to suggest a few times that riding on the top of the car and not holding on was a bad idea.

*photo credits all to Grandpa Bob since it seems I didn't take any photos this trip as my iphone was in use making music to accompany the beer consumption.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

h1n1 Attacks

Yup, I guess it was inevitable but the Bear household got the flu. To be more accurate, Ashton did. The rest of us went on Tamiflu and had mostly mild symptoms but as often happens they seem to last longer in adults. For me they included a sore throat and a lot of fatigue.

At the peak she spiked a fever of 103 but seemed to bounce pretty quickly after that. The hardest part was keeping her out of school since she does not like to miss that at ALL. Here is the trip to urgent care where she was not at all thrilled with the flu test.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fence repair - Grandpa Bob Style

As Murphy's law would dictate we had a big storm while I was away at the OOW conference and Bob found himself without a side fence.

This would be a bummer under any circumstance, but for those who are about to do a large-scale construction project next year it seems even more cosmically obnoxious to us.

Luckily, Bob realized that we had just the right person to call to help repair the fence to hold it together for one more year without requiring a whole new fence to be built.

You guessed it, this was just the job for "Grandpa Bob the Builder". He came the next weekend with tools and supplies and helped us put in temporary supports to hold the fence together. Just the thing! Thanks Grandpa Bob, we are so grateful.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jacqueline turns 4

There is nothing better than to have an older sister helping you enjoy your birthday. This year Ashton was a real cheer leader for Jacqueline. She started the day helping to get them both dressed up and was very excited to help show Jacqueline the gift we got her, a Barbie bike. Of course, we didn't realize that she would be afraid of actually driving the bike but luckily her sister was also willing to chauffeur.

It's true, we are now without any toddlers in the house. While I had been anticipating this day for a long time (and dreaming about if almost every time we traveled or had to deal with a tantrum) I found myself a bit emotional as it happened.

I also realized I could no longer convince her that a kids party was not important as she is now aware of the whole drill being a regular "extra" at several of Ashton's party invitations and even getting a few of her own.

Since she is four, of course this was a Barbie Princess party -- essentially covering all the required bases for coolness. Auntie Suzie came through with a new Princess dress that was one of the several costumes she wore as the event progressed.

Ashton put on her Mulan outfit and helped to entertain all the kids.

As I began to panic about all the preparation (and cost) of a party, Judy came to the rescue doing all the party work as her gift to Jacqueline. This was a good idea in a normal time, but turned out to be a great idea as I found myself sick on the day of the party itself.

The kids didn't notice with the beautiful party decorations, crafts and Shelly helping with face painting this "low key" party has now set an entirely new bar for the girls. So much for my attempt to reset expectations as to what a birthday party might involve. I guess that idea was pretty silly for me to consider given my personal love of the birthday.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


We were a bit late getting a camping trip together this year and once we did we couldn't find anyone to go with us. I'm happy to report we went anyway and had a great time. We went to Memorial park which is nice and close and convenient.

It was a little late in the year, so our late arrival on friday night had us setting up camp in the looming dark. Since this was only the second time we have used our new tent there was some risk in the process, but we managed.

I did take a photo for next time, to orient ourselves with the rainflap, which is somewhat counter-intuitive for me (something I was convinced was overkill -- thank goodness I'm not in charge as it rained that night!).

This trip was a lot better due to the addition of my mother's day gift of my very own cot. I did feel a little guilty being the only one sleeping off the ground but my back was grateful even if the packing was a bit more of a challenge as a result.

We stayed two nights this time, which makes all the assembly a bit more worthwhile. Judy did all the food prep for us (yes we are spoiled) and Bob did all the gear gathering. I also went a bit wild with the new label maker marking everything easily delegated going forward [grin -- just kidding -- I think].

The big surprise of the trip was how much the racoons were out. The girls and I went to the bathrooms to brush teeth before bed and found ourselves faced with four large ones availing themselves of the water. It scared us a bit, especially when the fourth one did not leave with the other three and we had to go back in to encourage him that people were coming. The girls were mostly frightened and it took a bit of convincing to get them to enter the bathroom after that.

One great thing about Memorial park is that they have a bit of a swimming hole. I think it was at one time an actual pool, but now it's more of a creek. The best thing about this creek is that it can be entered by small kids without parents needing to join. I was especially appreciative of this part.

The only thing I'd change for next year is to hopefully remember to get our reservations in before the start of summer so we can go more than once. The whole family really enjoys the camping experience.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Too much force is with me

I don't know how it happened but some how my life has been invaded by Star Wars (and yes I blame Bob!). First it was the cartoon series, that introduced such complex discussions as "killing droids" and "what color is your light saber" and shouts of "I'm Ahsoka", "I'm Padme".

This quickly graduated to claims that the kids demanded to watch the movies and long discussions about which planet so and so came from etc. etc. For the majority of the discussions, I'm on record about being against this as age appropriate for a 3 year old and yet I seem to have no say in the matter.

We have now graduated to watching history channel programs on the science of star wars and now the girls have even asked Bob to start reading them the Star Wars books at night. We're taking turns where on mom's night we are reading the Little House series and on dads it's Star Wars. When they ask me to read Star Wars I stick to a similar story I used for painting nails... mom doesn't know how. My extended story is that since I don't know the proper names of all the places etc. I am ill equipped to read the books to them (which I might add are NOT children's books but young adult novels)

Today I hit a new low in the Star Wars fad when my youngest upon waking up came out and said "Mom, maybe I can teach you how to read the Star Wars books". Yes, this is now my life, a 3YO trying to teach me how to read a young adult novel. Where was that in the fine print of parenting? I'm seriously considering breaking out High School Musical or Hannah Montanna to fight back, but I know that will backfire!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

First day of school

There were two weeks between the start of school for the girls. These were a very long two weeks but Jacqueline held up like a trooper to be honest.

Ashton was very excited to get back to school so quickly after our New York trip. She was anxious to see her friends and get back into the swing of things. Jani sent her the news that she was going to have her same teacher from last year (something she had been hoping for).

We also found out that she was an "Early Bird" which was not what we were expecting. Thank goodness we were still on East Coast time so the transition was not too bad.

We had also wisely purchased lunchboxes and backpacks before going on our vacation so we were prepared upon return.

The new "big toy" had been installed (although opening ceremonies were a week away). As you can see it's very impressive, what a fortunate place the girls live to have such a nice new playground.
By the time Jacqueline had her first day she was VERY ready to get back to preschool as a "Tiger". She was not even too worked up about going to a different school than Ashton, she knew where she was going and anxious to get there.

She wanted to wear her "pretty dress" and then added a baseball cap to show her own personal sense of style (?!). She immediately took advantage of her "big kid" status showing the new kids where things go and the finer points of the Barbie lunch bag.

Of course, the real bonus of school being back in session is for mom and dad when a schedule and structure returns to our lives. I continue to wonder why the idea of year round school is not taking off, it's not like the kids have a vote and since the demographics are shifting to two working parents it seems that the idea of a three month summer really should be something that we do away with in the 21st century.

I'm guessing a recession year is not the one to bring this up, but I must say I'm ready to vote if anyone else wants to.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bears in NYC

It seems I've lost a bit of momentum with this blog. Thanks to the miracle of back-dating and digital photography I can catch you all up without risk. This summer had the Bears cashing in air miles to fly across country to visit Grandma and Papa Terry.

As luck would have it, a bit series of meetings at work came up so I got to experience the trip twice (?!) but the visit was a huge success.

Bob and I also worked in an anniversary trip to The Hamptons (you must put a clothespin on your nose to say this correctly) leaving the girls in the care of the Grandparents [armed with M&M's, snack foods and hot dogs of course]. Before we left Jacqueline was quoted as saying "I'm going to miss you so much mommy" and after returning she said "why are you back so soon?"

Trip highlights included
  • American Girl store visit with Grams. Including purchase of new dolls, photos, tea and a hotel stay in the city

  • Trip to The Plaza for a $50 tea and a view of Eloise's lobby. Grams said the staff played up the Eloise story very well
  • Kids rides in Central Park
  • Visit to FAO Schwartz
  • The Natural History Museum
  • West Point Park Revue (created and rated by Ashton -- facilitated by Papa Terry). You will note the clipboard and pencil as each park was carefully rated.
  • Hanging out with Grandma and Papa Terry at their house
  • Seeing West Point
  • Crayola Factory (which would have been better named Museum)
  • A local park that the name escapes me, but that we had a nice hike, a merry-go-round ride, saw some zoo animals and were sweating our butts off (you will notice Ashton is cranky and not wanting to look at the camera)
  • Some downtown walking in the city and a street vendor purchase of a new handbag for me
  • Street cart Gyros, hot dogs and Ice creams. Grams is still looking for her change back from that event, when she couldn't understand how 3 hot dogs and 4 drinks could take a full $20...
One summary comment from Meg, was that August is a hot and sweaty month in New York. I figured this out the first day when we walked about a block and a half and Jacqueline said "let's go back inside mommy".

The Bear girls were most happy when we were inside with climate control. Thank goodness there are so many nice indoor things to do in New York. It was a blast. The girls were outstanding on the plane and we avoided any kinds of injuries or sicknesses. There were a few days adjustment when we got home but both Bob and I were really enthusiastic at what great travelers we have now.

Thanks to Grams and Papa Terry for the great visit. We appreciate you getting such a fun place to live, we vote for Hawaii next ;-).

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Two huge milestones happened last week. First is that Ashton lost her first tooth.

The toothfairy came through with 3 gold dollar coins which was a big hit.

This tooth had been putting up a good fight actually with the permanent tooth underneath coming in behind it a bit so there was no surprise when it finally came out.

Our other big event was the apparent end of the Lovey blanket.

Last week when Bob was out of town Jacqueline told me to sleep with her blanket "you take it mommy". The first night I didn't think much of that and just took it with me. When the next day she told me she wanted to be like Ashton and sleep with a regular blanket I realized that we might actually be at the end of our devotion to the Lovey.

I have to be honest I was taken completely by surprise and I'm not sure how I feel about this. I guess I just have to trust her that "it's time" although I'm giving it a few more weeks before I put them up with the keepsake box just in case.

Thought I'd include some file footage of the blanket in action.