BBB with the Michigan Crew

It’s been a while since we’ve had the whole Michigan crew together so we invited everyone over for a potluck turned Bi-Bim-Bop fest. By everyone, I mean honorary Wolverines, Emily (proud Buckeye) and O’Brien, too. Due to weekend sports, May snow on I-80, etc., we were missing some folks. However, Jin-Hong happened to be in town and joined us as our surprise guest. Charles also texted out-of-the-blue and he joined us as well.

The kids made full use of the house, yard and now sidewalk. A few of the younger ones posed flight risks, which kept some parents busy until we smartened up and closed the gate to the zoo.

It’s only a few weeks until everyone launches into Summer, so I’m glad we could see everyone before they scatter to Switzerland, Tahoe, Aspen and other amazing places I heard on the agendas. We’ll be in CA holding down the fort.

Mother’s Day in Napa with the Moons

We’ve spent Mother’s Day with the Moons for at least the last 5 years. This year, the tradition continued. Mike has been talking about Auberge du Soleil in Napa for a while, so we decided to take the families there for brunch.

Initially, Mike suggested a pre-brunch hike, but we ended up just going over to their place early and taking the kids for a bike ride in Tiburon while the moms chilled at home for a bit. They live on a serious hill, so negotiating their street on the way down and back was a big part of the adventure. The kids never met a jungle gym they didn’t like, so we made a stop. I can appreciate any park with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. We rode out to Blackie’s Pasture and turned around for home. This was definitely Lucas’s longest ride and I’m glad he’s enjoying his new bike.

By the time we made it to brunch, we had all definitely worked up an appetite. It’s a really beautiful place with gorgeous views of the Napa Valley below. Everyone enjoyed their meals, most importantly, Grace and Clara.

We all headed back to our favorite resort in Tiburon, the Moons’ house. We hung out for a few more hours and headed home at the end of another great Mother’s Day together. Happy Mother’s Day to our Grace, Clara and all our moms!

Ending Spring Break in Laguna Beach and La Jolla

Grace’s parents came down to Laguna Niguel on Thursday and stayed the evening so we could have dinner together. On Friday morning, we explored Laguna Beach. Lucas was belly-aching about all the walking (i.e., more than 2 blocks), but he toughed it out and we ended up at Nick’s. It was worth waiting for it to open.

We thought we’d make a quick stop at the beach downtown to check it out. 2.5 hours later, the kids were still running, digging, and pouring. I might have gotten involved there at the end. We went and got a well-earned gelato before packing it it. That evening, we crashed the T’Kindt’s pizza party, as the Primos were visiting from Michigan. The kids and adults all had a great evening together, though Sloane never did warm up to me (or anyone in the family). Next time, we’ll be BFFs.

On Saturday, we were heading to La Jolla to meet up with the West Bloomfield crew. We made a game-time call to pack everything up to give us the option to head home that day. A plane made an emergency landing on an adjacent freeway, which snarled traffic for us. Eventually we made it to lunch with Vickie, Steve, Laura, Chris, Kristen, Scott and the kids. We all drove over to the cove for some more gelato and took a stroll down to the sea wall to see the seals.

We stopped at Ann and Jeremy’s in LA for dinner and a quick visit with the kids and Murphy. Though we were a couple hours behind schedule, I lobbied to press on and go home so we could have a relaxing Sunday at home. Although Grace was not on board with my plan, she started the drive for us and drove straight through until we got home at 3am. Wow – thanks!

Legoland and San Diego Zoo Safari Park with Lees

On Tuesday, March 29th, we met up with the Lees, who were staying in Carlsbad with Julie’s parents for Spring Break. I’m still loving Legoland and not ready to graduate to Disneyland (though the kids may be). Albert was working, so we were a perfect 8 and I had the pleasure of riding with Olivia, Ellie and Theo. These guys are such cute buddies (especially Ellie and Lucas, who continue to be BFFs at school).

Everything was going great until they demanded to ride the Teacups (why???) and I took one for the team. I wasn’t the same the rest of the day. We went to their hotel at Aviara and ordered out dinner.

We met up with them again on Thursday at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. We were originally going to go to the SD Zoo, but we’ve been there a couple times, so this was a welcome change. It was a little busy, but otherwise was super clean and nice. We spent just the right amount of time there. The weather was also perfect all week (cool and dry).

Not pictured: Albert (although he arrived, someone has to make the sausage). Great times with the Lee Family on Spring Break!

Spring Break in Southern California

We decided to drive down to Southern California for spring break. We had no firm plans or agenda for the week and departed Burlingame right after having an Easter Sunday brunch at Il Fornaio.

It also happened to be our birthdays, so Grace planned one-night’s stay in Westwood. We’ve stayed at the W many times, but it’s getting a little long in the tooth. One convenience was that our birthday dinner was at STK in the hotel. Grace’s parents joined us and also brought cake and fruit, which we enjoyed together in the room.

On Monday, we had a leisurely morning and walked over to Le Pain Quotidien. Later, we had lunch with Grace’s parents, followed by some IT troubleshooting at their Westwood house. It was a beautiful and productive day with her family.

We stopped at Manhattan Beach on our way down to Laguna Niguel. It was crazy windy, so we only spent a few minutes on the beach before making an important stop at the MB Creamery (always). After settling into the Laguna Niguel house, we had a nice dinner in Laguna Beach, where we had lunch for Olivia’s 7th birthday.

Weekend at Martis Camp with Moons

We went to Tahoe at the beginning of February with the Moons and met up again with them during ski week in Colorado. This past weekend, we went to back to Tahoe and stayed at Martis Camp, where they will be building a home. When we arrived, we were surprised at how little snow was on the ground, given all the precipitation the area had received.

On Saturday, we all skied/boarded together (minus Grace). It started out as almost a bluebird day, but after lunch a welcome storm had moved in. Saturday evening, we had dinner at the Family Barn and ran into some other friends who also went to the same pre-school. We haven’t seen them in a while, but Lucas and Julia were BFFs and it was so cute to see them reunited.

On Sunday, we woke up to a ton of fresh snow. All eight of us headed out together. The snow proved to be perhaps too much of a good thing as the kids had a rough go of powering through some ungroomed runs as we tried to make our way over to the front side of the mountain. We took a couple breaks before packing it in about 2pm so we could get back and get on the road at a reasonable hour.

Apparently Waze doesn’t understand chain control and it took us over an hour and a half to simply get past Donner Lake. It was slow going and somewhat treacherous as the snow and rain were unrelenting the entire way home. We stopped at a different Il Fornaio in Roseville on the way home, which turned out to be very nice and cozy.

Another great (and possibly last) ski weekend in the books for this season. It’s always fun to travel with the Moons and run into friends on the Mountain.

Ski Week 2016 in Beaver Creek and Vail

Despite the much needed precipitation this winter, Tahoe has been hit and miss for us this season. We didn’t make any advance plans for ski week this year and when I did look into it, there were virtually no places to stay, which also told me it was going to be too crowded due to pent-up demand. Thus, we made a game time call about a week ahead to go back to Colorado, where the snow was plentiful and the crowds were light.

Grace had to work in the middle of the week, so we had to go the weekend before or stay the weekend after. We chose the former and headed out on Saturday. The drive to Beaver Creek was a lot easier this year, with warm weather and clear skies. It did end up snowing a bit the first couple nights, which helped to freshen the conditions.

We tried and failed to get the kids to ski school on day 1, so we ended up skiing together the whole trip. We skied Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and Thursday at Beaver Creek, and made a trip to Vail on Wednesday. The Moons happened to be in Vail for the week, so we met them for dinner on Monday while Grace was still in town. Grace had a 5am pickup on Tuesday to head back to Denver and fly home for meetings. Ouch.

On Wednesday in Vail, we met up with Arthur, Sadie and a friend on the mountain, had lunch, and met the rest of the Cinader crew on the mountain briefly. Afterwards, we went to meet up with the Moon boys to get in a few runs with them, too. We made a quick trip back to Beaver Creek to clean up before heading back to have dinner with Mike and the boys.

The rest of the trip was pretty chill. We skied one last day at Beaver Creek before cleaning up and driving back to Denver. Originally I had stopped for dinner, but was a little worried about getting all of our luggage from the rental car center to the terminal. Olivia and Lucas each had to pull a large roller and carry their car seat, while I schlepped the boot bag, ski bag, and a couple other small bags. They were super good sports about it and we ended up having a nice dinner at Elway’s again. Despite getting home after midnight, the kids were super travelers and everyone was happy to be home and see Grace.

Sony RX1 Repair

My beloved camera certainly has its shortcomings, but it’s still the best photographic tool I’ve ever used. Over the years, it’s had an intermittent issue, which was readily resolved with some sharp raps on a solid surface. Indeed, this doesn’t seem optimal for a precision optical and electronic piece of equipment, but it worked … until it didn’t. At last, no amount of banging would get it to turn on and focus properly.

I bought this thing used off Craigslist and one thing it came with (that I would never personally purchase) was a 3-year square trade warranty. It expired less than a month before the camera became inop. Oof.

I had several options:

  1. buy a new used one
  2. buy the replacement model new (Grace did not approve of this option)
  3. send it in to get it fixed, for about the price of a new used one
  4. fix it myself

Anyone who knows me knows option 4 was really the only option. I scoured eBay and found one of two lens parts available for sale. I scoured the internet for the repair manual. I scoured my drawers for my tiny screwdrivers.

In order to remove and replace the lens, pretty much the entire camera required disassembly. I got really good at it because it took three times to get it right and all working, until I realized that I damaged a very delicate micro ribbon cable, rendering the back buttons useless. I again scoured eBay for the ONE part available (from the same seller as the lens) and had it overnighted so I could fix the camera before a big trip. I finally got it all working, which was very gratifying and only a fraction of the cost of a “professional” repair.

Ski Weekend in Tahoe with Moons

The weekend of January 30th, we spent the weekend in Tahoe with the Moons. The kids are always excited to spend time with Alex and Nico. We shared a really nice condo just across the street from Northstar village, which was super convenient.

On Saturday, the kids spent their first day in ski school this season. Grace also put herself in school and was in a class with just one other person, who coincidentally happened to be a friend and fellow dad from school. All the families met up at the end of the day.

The Moons are building a house in Martis Camp, so they took us to the family barn for dinner. That place is pretty amazing. Olivia did pottery while Lucas took in some Harry Potter. After dinner, Olivia and Grace got in a game of bowling (what?). We also ran into a bunch of other friends from home and Michigan, including the Uppingtons, who were in our original BMC playgroup where we met the Moons.

On Sunday, Grace took the day off from skiing and the rest of us tried to get in some runs together. It was super fun to see the four of the kids going down the mountain together. At the end of the day, we met back at the lodge, loaded up our cars and got on the road while the snow was coming down pretty hard.

It took us a while to get out of Tahoe, and thankfully we missed a 20+ car pileup just East of where we got on the 80. We all met at Il Fornaio in Sacramento for one final meal together before pressing on towards home.