Sunday, December 28, 2008

Andy Turns 3

As we watch Andy grow we observe the amount of time that we've been back in the States. He turned 3 today so that's just over 3 for us. Wow. Funny backstory on video below. I went to Sam's Club to order Andy his birthday cake. I was thumbing through a binder of images and torn between Dora and Scooby. I knew he really liked Dora, but could I really get a boy a Dora cake? There was a rather gruff woman behind the counter observing me who said, "no way, you can't buy a boy a Dora cake." I kept thinking it over and she kept pestering me and eventually I acquiesced.

So later than day I asked Andy, "Do you like Batman?" (yes), "Do you like Superman?" (yes), "Do you like Dora?" (yes), "Do you like Scooby?" (no). "No? Don't you like Scooby Doo and Shaggy?" (softly ... yes). Great. So later that day we were walking in downtown Annapolis and I asked Andy again for reassurance, "Do you like Scooby?" (no, I like Dora). Doh! I frantically called Sam's club to see if they could change the order - the results below in the video.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Hangin' with the Boyz

Since Tania always tells me I am never in any of the pictures I figured I better post up this shot taken from our day out at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I guess you can tell from the photo how "height challenged" I am around the Kandra family. Chris, my nephew on the left, is just 12. Just got Andy measure at the doctor and he is 90th percentile in height and 40th in weight. He was also 90th percentile in head size. Okay, so at least he got his brains from me, right??? ;-) I still call him KJ (kay junior) since his has in Grandma's eyes but we have also started to see some Katzen resemblance so maybe I'll just call him the maternal grandchild. Or the "anything but Daddy" grandchild.

You'll also note from this photo that Jacob is in his Batman shirt (yes, it is February ... but, hey, this is California, man!) - what you can't see is that under Daddy's blue sweater he is wearing his Superman T-Shirt. Jacob thought it would be a good idea if we were superheros together for the day. We showed up later that afternoon at Maya's 4th birthday party undercover. We both wore sweaters as a disguise over our superhero selves and then lifted up our sweaters to show the crowd that underneath we were really Superman and Batman. Kids. Both of us.

Day out at the Aquarium

Had a great time with Joe, Anne, Chris and Katie over the last week. It was great to spend quality time together without the pressure of Christmas / Channukah and the mad rush to buy gifts, wrap presents and spend time with an entire extended family of dozens. Lots of highlights to remember and Jacob was really sad to see his cousins go. Got Chris & Katie out on the racetrack yesterday (Malibu Grand Prix) - I wonder if Chris mentioned to his parents that he skidded out and spun the car on to the grass in the center of the track? ;-)

We got them so hooked on In-n-Out Burgers that they had to make a final pit stop there on the way to the airport. Was Manresa restaurant not gourmet enough for you folks? Hope the JetBlue flight home wasn't as disastrous as the attempted JetBlue flight out here. And remember - we're always a great pit-stop on the way to Hawaii!

There are some videos below. If they don't yet show a picture on them aren't yet processed by YouTube so just come back. If you see a picture then they're done and just click on the center. Enjoy.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Andy's Walks !!!!!!!!!

Okay, so I know that I'm way behind on blogging. Lots going on in both the work and personal life. And ... I guess Video really did kill the Radio star. So much easier to just post videos! I will get back to writing soon. Many pictures to show from our December trip to Annapolis, Jenny's birthday, trip up to SF to see Uncle Map (when he sends me the damn pictures). But for now ... enjoy seeing our new walker in action (click on first video). Then a funny video of Andy doing the funny "crab walk", which practically rivals his old "superman" flying tricks and then he tries to stand straight from sitting with no leverage.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Andy's First Birthday

Jacob was the international baby visiting France, Spain, Italy, UK and the US before even his birthday. But Andy is mister bi-coastal celebrating his first birthday on both coasts! We started this morning in Annapolis with a birthday celebration with the Kandra family. We're then boarding a plane to arrive in California in time for the paparazzi to catch his evening celebration. Enjoy. Don't forget that if you click in the middle of the two pictures below you will see the videos.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Kennedys / Brothers / Susters

Tony Brothers was in town Thanksgiving weekend and we had the chance to get all three families together. We were all roommates at college together in San Diego so it's amazing to now all be together with our families.

In typical "all American" style both Tony and Stefan had one boy and one girl. Only I, "Suster", would go the difficult route and have 2 boys. And with Jacob telling me recently "I don't want another brother or sister" and with his mom listening approvingly maybe it will be so.

At the play table with Playdoh is (from left to right) Grayson, Jacob, Siena and Maya). Below on the left are the remaining members of the Kennedy (Crady) clan, Ann and Derick.

The Brothers' children, Grayson and Siena were so cute and so well behaved. They taught Jacob to play Candyland and played ball in the back yard for hours with him. It was the first time that our kids had ever been together since Tony moved to Florida a few years ago with the military. We miss them. The last time I saw Siena she must have been 1 year old.

It was a shame that they couldn't spend the night with us so it was a short trip but maybe that leaves me an excuse to plan a proper reunion where we can invite our other All American roommates: John Wood (one boy, one girl) and Paul Guichard (one boy and, yes, one girl). I guess I really am the odd duck. But this is the first time I've ever thought about it. Isn't it strange that we literally all had exactly 2 kids?

Solo picture is Tony's lovely wife, Becky. Don't you miss California, Becky? Oh come on, we know you do. They have great bases here in NorCal! Goin' back to Cali, Cali, Cali, Goin' back to Cali ....


Turkey Day on Christmas Eve

I had to show how wonderful of a Mommy Tania is. We had a relaxed Thanksgiving at home with Uncle Map and Aunt Adrienne.

Here's proof that she cooked a turkey for us. We were too tired from our recent travels to San Diego (2x for me), LA (Jill's wedding) and SF (Ron's 40th birthday party).

Tania & I announced, "we're not traveling anywhere this year!" On Saturday we went (just the two of us) to a spa in Pebble Beach and on Sunday to the Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay. Sunday brunch was $75! per person but worth every penny. Sushi, caviar, eggs bene, made-to-order omelets, every kind of meat, Gordon Ramsey-like small plates of everything imaginable an a dessert bar with AT LEAST 30 different choices (we can recommend any of the top 7 we tried ;-)

Here's hoping that next year Jacob will actually eat some turkey, stuffing, potatoes or even pie! He settled for pretzels and milky. Very festive, Jacob!


Halloween 2006

December 24th. No chance for any work situations to distract me today! Jacob's watching the Backyardigans, Andy's sitting in his high chair eating graham crackers. So I thought I would finally clear off my big camera from the past 2 months. 177 shots! At 2-3 MB / picture that is a lot of work to get them on the computer, look through them, delete the bad shots and upload them to the Internet! And ... to put some on the blog. Here are the first shots.

This was my first Halloween in the US in 12 years! I think I had as much fun as Jacob did. It was his first proper Halloween. He was very timid at first and wanted Daddy to come up to each house with him. After getting candy bars at the first 5 houses Jacob rapidly became a champion trick-or-treater! "No Daddy, I want to do it by myself!" Aunt Eileen and Sophia came over as did Uncle Map and Aunt Adrienne so we had a great family affair. Daddy went dressed as an Eagle's fan.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Chanukah 2006

Okay, so I know it's been a month since my last posting. What have I been up to? Well mostly work. I have been busy raising $4 million for my new company, Koral, to get it off the ground and have been keeping a work blog, which seems to suck up a lot of my time as well. I have a whole backlog of pictures to still load here - I haven't stopped snapping pictures. Here's one of Jacob showing how excited a 3.5 year old is opening presents!

Just haven't found the time to post. And ... lucky me. My lovely wife bought me digital photography classes for Chanukah! Cool, hey? She's the greatest. Anyway, you can celebrate our last night with us by clicking on the video below. More posts soon - I promise!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Video Killed the Radio Star

Okay, if you didn't get the title then you're too old ... or too young! Very my generation with the rise of MTV. So it goes with blogs. I've had a rough month work wise so the blog text has shrunk (more coming soon). But I did manage to get some great pictures this month and a few videos. Here's a couple of videos sure to delight. Andy's first haircut and Jacob the communicator. No longer the little 2 year old running around saying JennyBill, Aqua Joe or Ennnnnnn.

Also, plan to get some pictures up from cousin Jill's wedding, but here is a video for now from the end of the ceremony.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

3.5 .... Spidey !

The Jakester turned 3-and-a-half today. We had a great weekend as a family, which we haven't been able to do in a few months. We went to a carnival at school with magicians, baking contests and face painting. Tania took the kids to the pumpkin patch and carved a Jack-o-Lantern. Jacob got to go to a birthday party and play on the bouncy castle. But mostly we all just hung out. Jacob's corker for the evening. I took him grocery shopping and he was walking down the aisles saying "eenie, meenie, miney, mo." I said, "Jacob, where did you learn that?" (I'm always wondering how these great American childhood traditions get passed down). He replied "Papa taught me." Did you??? Didn't seem plausible to me.

Anyway, the fourth Halloween of his life it coming up this week. For the first year ever it wasn't a fight to get him dressed. In fact, he wanted to wear his costume early! We're excited - our first "proper" Halloween with the kids. Aunt Eileen is coming over. Should be fun. Here's a blast from the past, in order. 2.5 years (David Beckham - the star of England's soccer team), 1.5 years (lion outfit that he had to be wrestled to the floor to get on) and 6 months (his only chubby phase, where his head actually looked like a pumpkin!). Tempus Fugit ...

The Big 4-0 !

Ron's Big Weekend

The whole extended Suster family descended upon San Francisco recently to help "Uncle Ron" celebrate the big Four-Oh. We wanted it to be a surprise but in typical Ron fashion he started calling everybody a few weeks before looking for inconsistencies in our stories and trying to find somebody who would crack. I'm sure somebody must have but Ron didn't let in that he probably knew what was going on before the weekend.

We started by booking Ron at a hotel for 2 nights in the City. The idea was that Ron would arrive early Friday evening so that he could enjoy a leisurely night out with Wendy and a relaxed breakfast in bed. But ... stupid me. I should have known Ron would leave 4 hours later than the last moment possible. I think he got in around midnight so the hotel only had one room left. No TV. Oh well, my bad for not making up some fake reason that he had to be there by noon on Friday.

The whole family met for lunch on Saturday at the famous vegetarian institution in San Francisco called Greens. Ron & Wendy are vege's so thus must be nirvana. And for Ron's carnivorous siblings it actually was a nice restaurant so we didn't mind no meat. After lunch we dropped off Dad and Mari at the hotel for a break and the rest of us took the boat across the bay\ to Sausalito for a little fresh air and a stroll. It was a perfect opportunity for everybody to just take in the nature surrounding us and chit chat. Nice to have no real distractions but just a great chance to catch up.

We arrived in Sausalito and met up with cousin Dan, the Renaissance Man and his new girlfriend who was really nice and seemed a good match for one of our favorite cousins. You'll see that Dan dressed up for the occasion.

We got back to the City as the sun had just gone down. Met up at one of the nicer Indian restaurants in San Francisco and ate until we had to undue our top buttons. Indian is always a good bet for vege's. I always remember the interesting twist in India where most restaurants assume you are a vege and have a section on the menu for "non veg" meals. Next day we all headed down to Palo Alto (thank you to everybody for making the journey) for bagels and a day with the kiddies. It was a great weekend all around and great to have yet another excuse to bring the family together.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A new dimension

Okay, so we're taking the blog to a whole new level! Maybe now I can just post video in stead of having to type ;-)

Click on the right arrow on photo below and it will play the video. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Tania Rocks!

New pictures of kids (black & white) courtesy of Tania, aka the Admin Queen! We have found a new nanny (Tania says she is happy the she finally has a wife!). Her name is Normita and she's from the Philippines (hey, spelled right first time!). She is very pleasant as a person, great to the kids and cooks (big, big bonus) and helps with cleaning. So Tania is happy and thus I am happy, too.

Life seems to be settling in to a nice routine for us. As you can see from the shot of my gorgeous wife below she has been putting in the serious hours at the gym lately. The shot below is of Jacob trying to be Spiderman.

Lots of events coming up. This weekend we will see two friends from Europe: Danny Boy Zaidifard and his wife Annie as well as Holger. Next weekend we celebrate Ron's (my brother) 40th birthday. Then the following week back to LA for cousin Jill's wedding!

Stories of the week:
1. Jacob told one of the nannies, "don't make a mess or mommy will get mad at daddy." Telling, hey? ;-)

2. Jacob was in bed with me. I was laughing and giggling with him (usual routine) when he pointed his finger at me and said, "hey, calm down." Whoa! From Tania's mouth to Jacob's ears!

3. Went to Galia's house (okay, Gerardo and Nourit's house) for Yom Kippur. There must have been 8 kids running around and screaming. Looked so fun to Jacob. Reminded me of what it was like to be a kid and go to family events. Was heart warming. (okay, but most of my attention went into the Kugel, smoked salmon pizza, brownies, orzo, pecan, fig & goats cheese salad, cous cous, more smoked salmon, more Kugel, brownies, dates, cookies ... could you tell I was hungry? How do people manage this for a month during Ramadan?

4. New company launched. Check out if you want to see details.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Stories of the Week

Need to start teaching Jacob the principles of correlation. Okay, he's a bit young. He came into the bathroom the other day when I was in there. He said, "Daddy, before you wash your hands you have to take a pee." I could see where he got the logic, but ... anyway, was good for a laugh.

The other day Jacob built an igloo out of Playdoh. When Jacob got up Mommy accidentally smashed it back into shape. Jacob was disappointed so Mommy got sent to the naughty corner. Apparently Jacob was more traumatized about this than we thought. He woke up at 5:30 this morning yelling, "Mommy, mommy." When Tania arrived in his room he said, "You broke my igloo." Kids.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

YPO Retreat

Arrived in England on Friday and immediately headed 2 hours south by car to a quaint, English country hotel for a weekend with my YPO (young presidents organization) retreat. It is an annual event where 6-8 of us get together to share leadership experiences. We meet once every 6 weeks or so in London and then 1-2x / year we go somewhere else. Last year was Tuscany, this year we were just north of Brighton, in the south of England. Next year we are headed to Brazil! Should be fun.

After a day-and-a-half of meetings we decided to take it easy for the morning and went out skeet shooting. I earned by urban badge by coming in last place in the competition but did manage to blow some clay out of the air. Good think I'm not needed in Iraq!

Our instructor, the bearded guy at the bottom, is the former national shooting champion for New Zealand for 10 years and represented them in the Olympics a few times. Obviously didn't earn his keep with the likes of me! That's alright - I don't like guns much anyway.


Who couldn't love this face???

In London for a week. Tomorrow will be the 5 year anniversary of Sept 11th. So sad and so strange still. I was in London when it happened and, in fact, have never been in the US on Sept 11th. As fate would have it I'm here again for this infamous day.

Typing away at my computer waiting for a colleague of mine to arrive for dinner so I had a few moments to clear out Tania's camera. Found these great shots of Andy. Isn't he charming?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Alex & Heather - Pasadena

After visiting Rachel & Jimmy in LA and Bubbie in San Diego (see posts below) we headed off to Pasadena for a night to see our great friends Alex & Heather before returning home. Can it really already have been a year-and-a-half since we last saw them?

Night one we went to a Thai restaurant in Pasadena with great food and shite (sorry A&H ... I know you love it) service. But we were there for the company. It was a Sunday night and the pretty much called for last call immediately as we were seated at 9 PM. "yes, we'll have appetizers, entrees, 4 rounds of beers and what do you serve for dessert?" Well ... we got the hint when they started stacking chairs. So we headed down to the Cheesecake Factory to spilt "just" 2 desserts. I think we forgot about the portions that they serve. Sinful & delightful.

Alex & Heather are about the embark on a 6-month! around-the-world trip going to Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, India, Bali and Australia. Did I listen well, Heather? If you know them and want to follow their progress go to Anyway, they are off in about a month so we were delighted to see them. Aren't they photogenic? If only you had seen this guy after some of our fraternity parties in college - not quite as GQ looking!

Actually, this shot was taken in the morning. We stayed at the Embassy Suites in Arcadia because we wanted to scope them out for cousin Jill's wedding October 21st (can't wait!). We chose this chain because we wanted a suite so the kids could stay in a different room without a 2x price on hotel rooms. We were pleasantly surprised at what a great hotel it was and how much value we got for only $149! Not the Ritz Carlton, but a really comfortable, clean and pleasant hotel. We'll be back.

LEGOLAND !!!!!!!!!

MAN did we have a great time at Legoland!!! (meant to be said in a Jon Stewart opening his show style) I can't think of a better place to take a (38?) 3-year-old kid. We went to Legoland in the scorching Sunday heat the day after we visited the Wild Animal Park. When we arrived we found the WORLD'S BEST marketing ploy. So good that I had to photo it.

If you had to think of one thing that all men fight over, covet and refuse to let go of? Okay, besides women. As I can attest from a Seinfeld episode it is the PERFECT parking space. So good that you never want to drive your car anywhere. So we arrived at Legoland and see that they have cut a deal with Volvo (maybe Lego is Swedish?) where the best, closest, most covented, practically-as-good-as-handicapped spots are reserved for Volvo owners!!! Here's my proof. I started the day in such a good mood.

But that was only the beginning. The entire family and Bubbie had such a good time together. We basically took turns going on fun rides with Jacob who doesn't seem to have any fear of anything any longer.

We started by flying a helicopter together, which actually went pretty high and could spin around 360 degrees. Daddy loved it as much as Jacob.

Next Mommy took Jacob on a train that goes around a track two times. Not exactly The Big Dipper but got some excitement for Jake as you can see from him hands up on the photo. Doesn't Mommy look great? She's been working hard at the gym lately - we're so proud. She's been taking increased doses of Methotrexate for her RA and at last the swelling seems to be coming down a bit. Go Mommy!

We then got to drive a boat around and Jacob enjoyed steering - for about 20 seconds before he got bored and wanted to look around at all of the things to see along the way. "You drive, Daddy."

And what trip to Legoland would be complete without a chance to play with giant sculpted lego things: animals, cities, pirates, treasure and so much more. We'll definitely be back.

We had a great time, Bubbie! Good job on moving to Carlsbad. Sea World next time?


Bubbie - San Diego

Made it down to San Diego on Friday for a long weekend away. You can see how delighted Bubbie and grandkids were alike. Day 1 was just chilling out and we got to see Bubbie & Stephen's new house. GREATLY exceeded our expectation. Carlsbad has come a long way since the sleepy town I remember in college.

Tania & I managed to sneak away for a cheeky lunch leaving the kids with Bubbie just a few hours after arriving. Was great to get some private time. Day 2 we raced off to the Wild Animal Park and saw lots of African animals. Although Jacob's favorit thing was the merry-go-round! He finally rode by himself.

More from San Diego trip to come. Out of battery on my laptop and way past bedtime! In London now.

Rachel & Jimmy

Had a marvelous visit with our dear friends Rachel & Jimmy who moved recently to Ranchos Palos Verdes (basically LA) in California. I went to university with Rachel and we lived in the same dorms along with a host of other friends that we saw on the same trip: John Wood, Alex Craigie and Stefan Kennedy (when we got back).

Rachel & Jimmy moved out to Italy (near Venice) for 6 or 7 years at the same time we were in London so we went and visited them, they visited us and we visited each other on neutral ground (Paris). They had a gorgeous daughter, Sofia, who was born 2 months after Jacob and they have known each other since early days.

Sofia is the sweetest girl and Jacob really loves to play with her. I'm not just being nice so that Rachel will read my blog - Tania can vouch for me. We were so happy that they moved back to the US (only a few months after us! Following us?). It was especially a treat since they live in LA and it was on the way to our roadtrip to see Bubbie in San Diego.

Unfortunately none of the pictures of Jimmy turned out and Tania & I had a moratorium on pictures of us being allowed in public after our 6 hours' drive. But you can see here how much fun the kiddies had. The picture of Jake & Sofia is when the were dancing to the beats of Jimmy's sister (a professional singer).

We also got to meet Baby Evan (not quite a baby anymore) for the first time. He's a whopping 13 months already - man time flies. Is that a theme of mine? Anyway, Evan was about right to play with Andy (almost) and Sofia loved being the big sis / mommy. Here they come to say "good bye" as we pack it into the Volvo. Sure hope they'll come and stay with us in Palo Alto soon.


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