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Ski Week in Beaver Creek and Vail

While we were committed to skiing for the kids' ski week, we were not committed to Tahoe due to the ski conditions there this season. Eddie and his family have been enjoying Beaver Creek, so we decided to give it a try. It was snowing when we arrived and the Vail Pass was closed just as we approached it. Without local knowledge, we just did what Waze told us to do and ended up driving an extra 45 miles around the pass on white-knuckle, slow-paced roads. The most important thing was that we made it safely, but it was a long day of travel.

We stayed at the Westin, which was a very nice property, but required a bit of extra logistics to get everyone to ski school in the morning. The kids and Grace all attended school on Monday and Tuesday. I was alone and unsupervised, which allowed me to get some respectable vertical feet in between drop off and pick up. I had my greatest hits on shuffle on Spotify for two days straight and it was awesome.

On Wednesday, the kids had negotiated a family ski day, which was a lot of fun for all of us. At times, it ended up being Grace and Lucas and me and Olivia. Because they were relentless in beating me down on ski school, I thought carefully (but didn't consult and attorney) and came up with the following proposal. If either kid could ski three different black diamond runs without crying, falling or stopping, they would no longer need to attend ski school and I would happily ski with them wherever and whenever. Immediately upon putting it out there, they were trying to negotiate me down.

Olivia decided to test the challenge and wanted to ski President Ford's (the Wolverine connection was of course explained) at the end of Wednesday, which was a periodically steep groomer that turned into a blue at the bottom. I tried to say it didn't count, but in the end gave her half credit even though she did stop (not the most important requirement) and admitted she had some tears in her eyes, "but didn't cry." I was proud of her for trying and getting down nonetheless.

Between the Alpine World Ski Championships, which were finishing up just as we were leaving, and some other events at the hotel, we could only stay there through Thursday. However, we didn't want to cut our trip short, so we moved over to Vail for a night. On Thursday, Grace and the kids switched to ski school at Vail. The kids were resistant after recalling their last 4-day stints there a couple years ago.

I ended up hooking up with Arthur that day, which was part of my motivation of moving over to Vail. Unfortunately, Kjell was ill and didn't make it out. Arthur, as always, did his best to destroy my spirit while I did my best to keep up. We skied non-stop (no lunch, no water and I even had to pee in the woods). I survived the longest (unexpected) drop I can recall since my 20s as well as a slight groin pull.

The stinkers were a little leery of moving to the Four Seasons after our Santa Barbara experience. Thankfully, it exceeded their expectations (and ours). Although it isn't right next to the mountain, they more than make up for it with their shuttles and other services that make skiing in and out as painless as possible.

On Thursday night, we had dinner with Arthur, Heidi, Kjell, and their friends, Jean and Lars. We didn't have a sitter arranged, but Heidi was kind enough to let our kids join theirs for a few hours. The sitter literally had her hands full with Aurelia and the rest of the crew. We had an amazing and hilarious dinner at Left Bank. Arthur says he's never been there in 43 years, which is ironic because Grace and I went there a couple years ago. It has since been remodeled and was excellent. The boys all shared rack of lamb, while the ladies enjoyed beef and elk. Lars ordered wine and someone else ordered 9 desserts.

Friday was supposed to be another family ski day. We slept in and had a very leisurely breakfast. In the end, only Lucas wanted to ski with me. By the time we got to the top of the mountain, it was dumping snow. He wanted to show me a couple runs, but about a quarter of the way down, with a snow-covered face, he told me he was done. I told him we could try to ski the bottom of the mountain where it might be less snowy and he agreed. I knew he was fine because he talked non-stop on the way down, which I loved. I couldn't hear much, but what I did hear was about the trees (he didn't know what kind they were) and how they shared the same roots and were like one big tree covering the area of Rhode Island. When asked where he learned this, he couldn't recall. My other favorites were "hey, was that a bunny hole?" and "c'mon, Dad!" We stopped at the base for hot chocolate and Olivia and Grace ended up meeting us at The Red Lion. It was now snowing sideways at the base, so Lucas was done. Even though he only lasted one (long) run, it was one of my best days ever. I borrowed Lucas's goggles and headed to the top for one last epic run in 4-6 inches of fresh snow).

It was another slow and treacherous drive out of Vail, but we made it to the airport with several hours to spare and managed to have a civilized meal (after talking Olivia down from Panda Express). Lucas wanted to sit in the 2nd row of the airplane, but we were actually in last class. For some reason, he stayed up almost the entire flight and was barely conscious when we arrived past midnight. It was nice to be home after a great family vacation.

By Jason Rhee · February 21, 2015 · 0 Comments ·

Golf at HMB with Albert

Albert invited me to play golf with his dad and his buddy, Brian. It was a glorious day of winter golf at the coast. My golf, however, was inglorious, which was totally fine with me on such a perfect day.

After picking up on 17, I hit a fine drive on 18. I love the finish on the old course at HMB. The only stressful thing is the gallery of hotel guests who sit outside. Even on a crappy day, there are people out there. On a day like today, I had never seen so many people out there. My approach can end up anywhere from the ravine, to the ocean, to another approach.

Today, I hit it right at the pin and heard it hit the flag or the stick, to which there was a slight roar from the gallery. When I got to my ball, it wasn't even on the green. As we drove away, someone stopped me and told me the ball landed a foot in front to the flag, hit it, and then rolled off. It was awesome, nonetheless. It's the only shot I need to remember from this day.

This is a excellent alternative to a crappy ski season in Northern California.

By Jason Rhee · February 14, 2015 · 0 Comments ·

Half Moon Bay Staycation with Julie and Albert

This weekend, we were supposed to share a house in Tahoe with Julie and Albert's family. While the rain is welcome here in California, it unfortunately didn't turn into snow at Northstar, so we took a literal rain-check on that trip. The kids were all disappointed by this turn of events.

On the positive side, Albert and his brother, Mike, had a really big week at work (understatement) when it was announced that their little startup (understatement) was being acquired by a major sports company (understatement). Even though Tahoe wasn't going to work out, they deservedly wanted to celebrate and invited us along on their weekend staycation in Half Moon Bay.

The Olivias had a birthday party to attend, so Albert and I stayed behind while Julie and Grace took the other kids to the hotel. Albert and I basically ended up having an eight-hour man-date, as the ladies went to the spa before dinner. Thankfully our sitter, Haruka, came and took the kids to the beach for a bit, otherwise the entire weekend could have been called, "oceanside kids on their devices."

Knowing the incalculable sacrifices both Julie and Albert have made to get to this milestone, we could not be happier for them. Equally amazing is the greatness achieved by these two brothers who boot-strapped this thing into the dominant player by a wide margin. And most inspiring and reassuring for me is to see people who are both gentle and kind make it big in this often crazy game we play.

Thank you again for including and hosting us in your celebration. The kids had a great time together and we'll always be up for adjoining rooms, though next time we need to make sure Julie gets a bed! Congratulations!

By Jason Rhee · February 8, 2015 · 0 Comments ·

Staycation and Superbowl with Michigan Dads

The Michigan dads decided to have a staycation with the kids last weekend. The moms went to Napa to do who knows what. We met at Delfina on Friday for dinner. On Saturday, Posse invited us over for some steaks and hot dogs.

On Superbowl Sunday, everyone came over to our place for pizza night. The ladies arrived home in the late afternoon to join the festivities already in progress. I was more vigilant with the fire in the BGE this time and pulled off 5 of 5 pizzas.

Great game with great friends. I'm pretty sure the moms had a good one, too.

By Jason Rhee · February 6, 2015 · 0 Comments ·

Tahoe at Northstar with the Moons

Last weekend, we made our first trip to Tahoe for the season.  We met the Moons at the resort.  Unfortunately, Lucas and I were not feeling great, so he took the day off on Saturday while Olivia went to ski school.  I got some runs in with Olivia, Nicholas and Mike at the end of the day.  After a little aprés, we met for dinner together.

On Sunday, everyone rallied and we all skied together.  This was our first time riding the lift as a family.  Olivia and I went to the backside while Lucas and Grace stayed on Arrow and Big Easy.  (I'm skipping over the traumatic experience of Olivia's first attempt at a black diamond run).  After lunch all together, Olivia and I got in a couple more runs before packing up and heading home.

While the snow wasn't great, the weather was beautiful and we had a great time with the kids and the Moons.  Hoping for some fresh snow before we return in a couple weeks.

By Jason Rhee · January 31, 2015 · 0 Comments ·

POPSUGAR Winter Party #pswinterparty

This week we had our annual week together with our POPSUGAR colleagues from all over the world. As we learned in our all hands, we have much to be proud of as well as much to look forward to in 2015. We also have much to celebrate, which did in style at the San Francisco Maritime Museum.

Last year I was asked to take photos in an effort to save some money. At the all hands, Marnell asked me if I was planning to take photos again. I had only brought my "little" camera, which isn't really well-suited for shooting such an event (the "big" camera is gone). Because Marnell is Marnell, a photographer was hired during the all hands and I was off the hook.

As a result, I only took a few photos this year and made even fewer observations throughout the evening. Instead, I met a lot of new people yesterday as well as caught up with old friends. Congratulations again to all the POPSUGAR award recipients and especially to our beloved Annie for winning the overall award. You are now among very esteemed company.

If I took your photo and it doesn't appear, it is because: a. the photo was way out of focus, as many were, or b. it would have simply been unkind to post it. Melissa is excepted from these guidelines.

Thanks, everyone, for a great time. Here's to an even more amazing 2015!

By Jason Rhee · January 23, 2015 · 0 Comments ·

Olivia's 8th Birthday Party

On Saturday, January 10th, Olivia's school friends helped her celebrate her birthday. She's been into Roald Dahl and requested a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-themed party. Really, she just likes candy.

Kate took the helm to plan the party and everyone pitched in to get ready. Olivia wanted a jumpy because she never had one before. Lucas had a serious face-plant before the party started and was out of commission for the rest of the festivities. I think this is our last jumpy.

There were several candy stations, as well as cotton candy and chocolate-covered strawberries and marshmallows, which the girls were able to decorate themselves. The girls started watching the Johnny Depp-version of the movie before heading outdoors to a relay race. Three teams competed at five stations and everyone was a great sport, especially the girls who volunteered for the whipped-cream-pie-candy-thing. All participants enjoyed "fizzy lifting drinks" after the competition.

After lunch, the girls finished watching the movie and played outside. My only contribution was making the cotton candy (and taking pictures). Thanks to Kate, Grace, Lucas and all of Olivia's wonderful 2C friends who helped her celebrate. Sorry to all the parents for sending home so much sugar!

Olivia already said that next year she would like to invite the boys, too.

Happy Birthday, Olivia! We love you.

By Jason Rhee · January 12, 2015 · 0 Comments ·

(Almost) Celebrating New Years in Santa Barbara

After Olivia's birthday lunch with the family, we embarked on our next destination, Santa Barbara. It probably wasn't wise to leave Orange County mid-afternoon. We got stuck in LA rush hour traffic and crawled along to our destination.

Four hours plus later, we finally arrived at the Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara. By then it was dark, cold and rainy. We had already decided to cut our stay there from 3 nights to 2. However, between the weather and the "special" pricing (ala Uber surge pricing) for staying over New Years Eve, we decided one night there was enough.

We celebrated the end of Olivia's birthday at dinner. Luckily for the kids, this hotel was owned by Ty Warner, of Beanie Babies fame. They each got their pick of a Beanie Boo. Luckily for Ty Warner, these kids help fund his hotel purchase.

Perhaps we should have waited until the next day to decide to depart, when it was sunny, cold and not raining. The dimly lit restaurant from the evening before turned out to be a sun-filled, ocean-side atrium. It was about 55 degrees and Olivia was in her bikini at the beach. Those kids just don't care. We retreated to the beach club pool for a while and then back to the resort pool for lunch and swimming. By then, it was feeling like winter.

We got them bathed and changed in time for our late check out. There was a silver lining for leaving early. Just as I was finishing loading the car, I heard someone call my name (er, nickname). I looked around and saw one of my Michigan buddies, Bush, who was actually one of my pledge brothers. He was on a family trip to celebrate his dad's birthday and wasn't even staying at the resort, which made it more coincidental. It's been over 10 years since we last saw each other.

We got on the road towards home, which didn't seem that much closer than from LA. Instead of a big party at the hotel, we opted for dinner at Subway, which we ate on the road. Everyone was happy to finally be home, just like last New Year's Eve. The only one missing from our party was Snickers. Sniff.

By Jason Rhee · January 7, 2015 · 0 Comments ·

Olivia's 8th Birthday in Laguna Beach

On December 30th, we celebrated Olivia's birthday in Laguna Beach with the Park grandparents, Park uncles, Park aunt, and Park cousins. We can't believe she's already 8 years old. We're thankful for the sweet, happy girl she continues to be.

Happy Birthday, Olivia!

By Jason Rhee · January 3, 2015 · 0 Comments ·

Legoland Never Gets Old

I'm successfully avoiding Disneyland. The kids haven't yet outgrown Legoland, which still seems manageable to me. This trip, both kids rode all the rollercoasters.

We learned the fine line between "scary" and "thrilling." I think they get it now. The only thing I coudn't get out of was the spinny tea cup ride. It almost destroyed me.

The T'Kindts invited us over to their new home in Laguna Niguel for dinner. It was so nice to see them in their new neighborhood. Alex is growing up fast.

By Jason Rhee · January 3, 2015 · 0 Comments ·