April 27, 2002: The doctors said the second one comes quicker, but we didn't know how much quicker. So while we were looking forward to Uncle Dave's 40th surprise birthday fete, we wondered: Is it really happening now? Brent voted to head for the party. Julie voted for the hospital. She won. Not much later (at 10pm), at 9 pounds, 21 inches, we were overjoyed to get our first glimpse of Allison Marie Gregory. Coming home from the hospital, we didn't know her name was Allison (we'd picked a different name), but (to everyone's amazement) we changed it to Allison a few months later. Allison is tall, beautiful, energetic, and fiercely intelligent. She has a mellow disposition, a ready smile, explains the term "bouncing baby girl" (she really loves to bounce).

Scott (now three years old) was pretty shocked at how much of his parent's energy quickly diverted away from him to his new sister. But, soon discovered he could get their attention back right away by kicking her in the head when one of them was watching. Fortunately, he soon found it was more fun to bring her toys, and make her giggle by acting sillier than usual.

Scott now takes regular classes at Stanford. His teachers there (at Bing Nursery School) comment on his exceptional creativity, verbal skills, and good nature. He remains a committed cyberphile, working his computer at least an hour a day. His most recent interest is the Lego Mindstorm robot. He knows how to write simple programs, download them, and make his little robot dance the flamenco.

Julie's employer, HP, had a rough year, and started offering sweet deals to anyone willing to leave the payroll. Julie was already planning to take a year off with Allison and Scott, and had a hard time passing up the free money. The only catch was that she'd have to turn in her HP Badge. After seventeen years of dedication (only HP computers in this house), it was an emotional break.

Brent learned that insisting one does not want to, is a excellent strategy for climbing up the corporate ladder. He consistently espouses a preference for small teams (so he can still write code), and consequently was offered a position that grew his empire to over fifty people (about 5x). Brent agreed to fill the position temporarily and was very happy six months later when he was able to return to his old job. Someday he'll write a book on how to climb down the corporate ladder (it's not easy).

This year's big family vacation was an experiment to see how far we could get into the wilderness without loosing the comforts of home. We packed our new aptly named Honda Odyssey to the brim, set the GPS for Convict Lake in the eastern Sierras and set out on our adventure. We hiked, camped, fished, and braved scalding hot springs, thunderstorms, and gigantic steam locomotives, and just about every night enjoyed a gourmet meal and slept in a luxurious cabin. The night before we returned, Brent decided to get a jump on the long trip home by loading the minivan after everyone else had gone to sleep. Bad idea. After several loads of stuff, Brent decided to just leave the back hatch open to make loading quicker. Very bad idea. On the sixth or seventh load, he noticed a large bear leaning into the open hatch looking for goodies. After a hasty, and somewhat undignified retreat to the cabin, Brent had a long time to weigh the benefits of returning to the minivan to close the hatch vs. just going to bed and hoping for the best. In the end, materialism trumped self-preservation, and he dashed out, slammed the hatch, and retreated to the cabin, all the time making as much racket as possible. It's not clear whether Brent or the bear was more scared.

Brent didn't have the wit to photograph the bear, but you can see lots of other pictures of our adventures at http://www.vangregory.com. We wish you and your family a wonderful holiday and an exquisite new year.

Brent, Julie, Scott and Allison