4th Grade Outdoor Ed Trip to Coloma

Every year the 4th graders attend outdoor education at Coloma. This year, Grace Jedi mind-tricked me into applying, partially and ironically as a way to earn back my trust level with Lucas for sending him to … summer camp. I applied and won the “lottery!”

The truth is that I didn’t even know where Coloma was until a couple days before the trip. In my mind, it was in the Santa Cruz mountains. In reality, it’s in gold country, northeast of Sacramento. As we all learned on the trip, it was where gold was first discovered in 1948, which led to the gold rush the following year.

Although I had some things at work hanging over my head, having zero cell reception was as good excuse as any to unplug for a few days and immerse myself in the experience. As the parents and faculty were seeing us off, there seemed to be an equal number of thank yous and good lucks, striking a balance between gratitude and fear.

Sure we know 34 4th graders have the potential to be a rowdy bunch, particularly the boys with whom I bunked, but really they’re a super awesome group of kids. I got to know the 3 teachers, 5 other parent chaperones and most importantly the kids a lot better over the three days and two nights away from home. I even learned more about Lucas, observing him with his classmates in this beautiful setting away from school.

I was super impressed with the Coloma Outdoor Discovery School (CODS). The staff were great with the kids, being inclusive and attentive to individual needs and personalities. The program was educational not only about the history of the gold rush, but also about respecting nature and the earth. One evening a direct descendant of the native people who inhabited the Coloma area long before the 49ers arrived gave a rich account of her people and also a challenge to each child to make a difference in their communities. I thought it was awesome.

That doesn’t really cover everything we did and saw during our time, but the pictures hopefully fill in the rest. I feel very fortunate to have spent this time with this group and hope Lucas will remember sharing it with me, too. Thanks to The Carey School for having me along.

2018 Vegas Trip

Jen, Ed and I met up in Vegas for our annual trip. Grace and Prem both came in for one night, which is plenty of time for trouble. We missed Jea, who was at Nationals with her tennis team (woo hoo).

Ed and I played Paiute two days (Wolf and Sun Mountain). The weather was beautiful and we had a great time. We tried some new places to eat (Mastro’s was a bust) as well as visited our tried and true. I might have stayed 3 hours (or 3 days) too long.

Until next time…

Business Trip to Tokyo

Last week I went to Tokyo for business. It was my first time traveling to Japan since my one and only visit in 1979. I had to ask my mother for details. After her father semi-retired from practicing medicine in Korea, he wanted to keep working and had an opportunity to work with a friend in Japan. While it probably wasn’t common for Koreans to immigrate to Japan, my grandparents lived outside of Hiroshima from about 1970 to 1990, during which time I visited them.

I had been meaning to get to our Tokyo office for quite some time, but schedules got in the way. The opportunity to travel with colleagues presented itself last week, so I took it. It was an amazing week to meet and connect with the various teams there and our hosts could not have been more gracious and inviting. We enjoyed many meals together and had productive meetings.

We also took the opportunity to explore a bit, venturing further and further from the comforts of Roppongi Hills as the week went on. I had some great meals during the week based on recommendations from friends and hosts. The truth is I had Starbuck’s every morning, two hamburgers for lunch, and zero sushi all week. I did have amazing Katsu while meeting up with my b-school friend, Tom. In the it’s-a-small-world department, I randomly ran into a dad from Lucas’s school.

My colleagues and I ordered ramen from a vending machine and also figured out the subway to Harujuku one evening. Half of us indulged in a second dinner (the really hungry half). I stayed one extra night by myself to explore. I caught up with another b-school friend, Trista, who lived not far away. It was great to catch up with her.

The best meal I had was ironically French, at L’Atelier de Joel Rubuchon (RIP). The last time dining at one of his restaurants was on Grace’s 40th birthday in Paris. I wasn’t super hungry so I ordered a 4-course meal, which was perfect. Although I could have stayed in to watch the Ryder Cup (glad I didn’t), I instead got on a bus to Shibuya to see what it was all about. At that hour, the crossing was busy, but not worthy of a time-lapse or extra effort. The general people watching was entertainment enough.

Although I had visions of pulling an all-nighter so I could sleep on the plane and get back on schedule, I can only keep myself company for so long. After wandering around (and around) and having the wrong people ask me the wrong questions, I decided it was time to get out of there. What I didn’t know was that public transit ends at midnight. It was 1am. Apparently I’m terrible at hailing a taxi and/or recognizing who was for hire, so I just started walking. Eventually, down a dark alley, I caught a cab just as some people were getting out.

On Saturday, I headed back to Shibuya to meet up with an old work friend, Benjamin, who was spending a month in Japan. Great catching up with him as well. I was only a little worried about getting out before the Typhoon arrived. I might have arrived at the airport a little early, but it gave me time to buy some gifts and get in one last meal of Katsu curry.

I would have loved to stay longer, but I had to get back to the family for Elin’s last weekend at home with us. I’m sure I’ll be back in Tokyo again. Apparently, my Epic ski pass works at Hakuba Valley in Nagano, so it just might be when the powder is deep.

 

Bon Voyage, Elin!

This past year was significant for our family, with changes in schools and jobs. The biggest change we had was with our child care, as we had our first au pair. We didn’t exactly know what to expect and the truth is we didn’t know how it would be to have someone living with us.

All those fears were washed away after Elin arrived. She had already spent a year in Australia, so was used to being away. Still, we all had to take some time to adjust to each other, but very quickly, she became part of the family. We explored Disney togetherskied at Beaver Creek (she worked on a ski mountain back home in Sweden), and had an amazing week in Tahoe together.

We exposed her to Korean food and she taught the kids Swedish. Her lovely parents came to visit during Spring Break and we enjoyed spending time with them. As she made friends and found a life of her own in the Bay Area, she was still very present with Olivia and Lucas, and was an amazing care giver and responsibility reminder to them.

Lucas had been having a tough transition while starting 4th grade for a lot of reasons, but in retrospect, the looming departure of Elin must have weighed heavily on him. As October 1st arrived, he couldn’t hide his sadness.

We had one last dinner together at Il Fornaio and exchanged some cards and small gifts at home. At the airport, it was tough for everyone. Lucas was inconsolable there and at home. Besides the passing of Snickers, this was the first real loss the kids had suffered and it was palpable. When I asked Lucas where it hurt, he pointed to his heart.

Elin had matched with a new family on the East Coast, which is where she wanted to explore. I knew this wasn’t goodbye, as we’ll see each other again for sure. I know the kids will always remember the year we spent together with Elin and hopefully they’ll stay in touch. This was an amazing and enriching year for all of us and I’m so thankful we took the leap to hosting an au pair.

Elin, we all miss you very much.

Update: November 25th – We had some company and Lucas was showing the kids his Origami. There was some misunderstanding as they were leaving and he was encouraged to give what they had created for the guest to take home. Afterwards, he was very upset because each of the little pieces he had made with Elin and now they were all gone. We’re going to try to get them back for him. It turns out I’m not the only sentimental one in the family.

Lions vs. 49ers at Levi’s Stadium

On September 16th, Hans invited our family to the 49ers game. Coincidentally, it was against my hometown team, the Detroit Lions. After 18 years of living here, this was my first 49ers game (I’m admittedly not a big pro sports fan).

I had a sense we weren’t sitting in the cheap seats, so I informed the kids not to get too used to the accommodations, which turned out to be stunning. Lucas said if there was a bathroom and shower, he could live there. It was a huge treat.

In the end, the Lions didn’t pull it off, but at least made it close. I’m sure my Bay Area friends were happy with the outcome. For me, it was nice to catch up with an old friend and see him doing well in his new venture.

Thanks, Hans, for the amazing hospitality.

Elin’s Birthday

On August 24th, we celebrated Elin’s birthday in San Francisco at Sociale. Now that her time with us is coming to a close, I wish we had more time to experience the Bay Area together. We’re going to miss her!

Happy Birthday, Elin!

Olivia Starts Middle School at BIS

Olivia started 6th grade a week ago on Wednesday. This is a big adjustment for all of us, most of all for our new middle-schooler. We all walked to school together and coincidentally caught up to Lucie and Quinn, who are her other Carey buddies making this transition with her. Her class is close to 10 times as big as elementary school, which hopefully means 10 times the opportunity to make new friends and memories over these next few years.

Olivia has been walking herself to school the past couple days. She continues to make us proud as she shows us just how much she can do on her own. She’s definitely going to make her own way. Go, Olivia!