Luna Joins Our Family

Olivia has been lobbying for a cat for quite some time. I’m an advocate for any kind of (furry) pet, though I am partial to dogs. It took the family a while to get over the passing of Snickers, especially Grace. But, the time had apparently come, as Grace told Olivia we could get a cat on her birthday.

We’ve been going to the local SPCA periodically, “just to look,” for quite a while. However, after we got back from our holiday travels, we went every weekend. There aren’t many kittens this time of year, and Grace and Olivia really wanted one.

On January 28th, we went on our weekly pilgrimage, and found they had a couple of young new arrivals. We met the first one, a beautiful gray cat, who was friendly, but very shy. We met a second cat briefly, as Lucas had to go to a birthday party, so after a quick deliberation, we decided on the gray cat. By the time I returned, Grace and Olivia had decided to take home the 2nd cat, as she was much friendlier and less shy. Snickers was pretty skittish, so I can understand the reluctance to get another cat that would hardly be seen.

The cat was a stray and guessed to be about a year old. She was found pregnant, but too malnourished to carry the kittens to term. She had a name when she arrived, but it was changed to Pomegranate. That was too much of a mouthful for us, so we were going to come up with our own name.

When she got home, it became clear we need to call her something, so we brainstormed some names. I started throwing out Harry Potter names: “Hermione,” “Belatrix,” “Luna Lovegood,” Luna actually seemed to fit, as she had similar coloring to Luna Lovegood and she did look a little like the moon. It stuck, even though Grace wasn’t convinced.

It didn’t initially strike us how beautiful Luna is. She came home with us because in a way, she chose us with her friendly personality. The first night was interesting, as Olivia was determined to have Luna sleep with her, but she was set on sleeping on/near her face, so that didn’t last at all. Instead, she slept on Grace’s and my face that first night.

She is so friendly to everyone, including strangers. Everyone is in love with her. We’re so glad she has joined our family. Welcome home, Luna!

Olivia’s 11th Birthday Celebration at Benihana in Michigan

Our last dinner together in Michigan was to celebrate Olivia’s 11th birthday. We don’t traditionally celebrate birthdays there, but it was what Olivia wanted. The number one thing Olivia has been asking for is a cat. I wasn’t a proponent of making a pet a Christmas or Birthday gift, but Grace had mentally committed to getting a new cat. Olivia was overjoyed to read the news that it was finally happening.

Happy Birthday, Olivia!

Christmas in Michigan with Rhees and Parks

For the first time in 8 years, we spent the Christmas holiday in Michigan at my parents’ house (and childhood home). The kids know it well from our summer trips, but they haven’t really experienced snow there as kids (and ironically there was a lot more of it than in Colorado). Addy and Charles were also in Michigan to visit Amy and Arnie’s family, and thus Grace’s parents and Dave also came to Michigan.

Everyone came over for Christmas Day and dinner. The kids had some daylight to play in the snow. I tried to buy some sleds, but there was nothing open. They improvised with cardboard and plastic. Grace improvised with the recycling container top. The Rhees (no relation) also joined us for dinner, which was prepared by my mom, Jen and Grace.

We spent time in Ann Arbor with Grace’s Hur side of the family. It was nice to see all the cousins. They each took turns kissing the ring (Dad Park).

We saw Melanie, Nick and the kids, who took us downtown for lunch and bowling at Punch Bowl Social. It was a nice excursion to my old work neighborhood. Detroit is coming along!

The holidays is also the time we celebrate my Dad’s birthday. We celebrated 82 with a great meal at Eddie V’s, which is new to Detroit. Happy Birthday, Dad!

We all love visiting Michigan at any time of year. Olivia and Lucas can’t get enough of the wide open spaces and my parents’ yard. Even though it was single digits, they never really complained about the cold, which encourages me that our California kids are tougher than we might think.

Thanksgiving 2017 in Orlando with the Parks

We spent only our second destination Thanksgiving in Orlando, FL last week. Coincidentally, the first was with the Rhees in Miami Beach, FL five years ago. Our family and Elin went down a little early to spend a few days at Universal Studios. We stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel, which was very close to the park.

The kids were most excited about Harry Potter, even though we already enjoyed the lite version in Hollywood over Spring Break. Orlando’s Diagon Alley did not disappoint. The weather was amazing the day we went. Our family lost steam around dinner time. We had dinner at Citywalk before heading back to the hotel. Elin, however, wanted to hit every ride and got most of them in by riding until closing time.

The next day, it was raining, but we still went to the pool anyway. It would have helped a bit if it was warmer, but the kids didn’t seem to mind too much. After swimming, we made a game time call to see Wonder. Afterwards, we had dinner across the street at The Portofino.

The third day we just had breakfast and packed up to move over to Disney. We went over to the Hilton next door to use their pool, which had a lazy river and a slide. Addy, Charles, the kids, and Dave all arrived and met us there. We tried to have dinner at Disney Springs with no reservation, but ended up just eating back at the hotel lobby.

On Thanksgiving, my plans to eat nothing until dinner was thwarted by a nice lunch at Eddie V’s. We hit the pool at our hotel in the afternoon, which had less amenities but was at least heated. We had Thanksgiving dinner at the hotel restaurant, which is not our style, but still a lot easier for those who usually cook and or clean. Our main motivation for visiting Orlando was to see Grace’s mom’s brother, Ben, who lives there. We were happy that he joined us for our family dinner. This was Elin’s first American Thanksgiving, which she hopefully enjoyed.

Black Friday was spent at Disney World. It was my first visit there since 1980, which was before Epcot was even built. We planned this part of the trip terribly, as we just bought our tickets and had virtually no fast passes reserved among our big group. Our plan to mitigate this was to catch the first shuttle to the Disney, which meant a pre-dawn wakeup.

The main attraction Charles wanted to ride was the new Avatar-themed Pandora attraction. We didn’t exactly elbow our way into the park or run to the ride. By the time we were in line, it was already a 3-hour wait. Oof. Thankfully, everyone was patient (including the Grandparents). I don’t do well on these 4D rides. It was pretty amazing, but I’m still queasy. The kids and Elin loved it. We took it a little easier in the Animal Kingdom and did some Safari ride. Because the damage was done, even the Dinosaur ride was painful to me. We did actually have 3pm fast passes for Pandora, so Elin, Addy, Olivia, Lucas and Cameron rode it again.

We all headed over to Epcot for dinner. It was my first visit there. We then rode the monorail back to the transit center. Olivia, Lucas and Grace’s parents were done at this point, so I took them back to the hotel. The rest of the group headed over to the Magic Kingdom to check it out and watch the grand finale. Everyone was impressed.

On our last full day together, we finally made it into Morimoto Asia for lunch. Afterwards, half the group went back to Disney World for another day and night at the park. Elin had a Fast Pass at 11:30pm at Space Mountain and didn’t make it home until late. The kids, Grace, Dave, Grace’s Dad and I went to the pool for a bit. We were back at Disney Springs for a healthy meal of fried everything at Art Smith’s.

Sunday, we packed up, and headed out of Disney for the last time. What we didn’t know was that our flight was going to be delayed about 4 hours, which made for a long rest at the Orlando airport. The one good thing about it was running into my long lost b-school buddy, Ted, who was on his way back to Austin.

As always, we have so much for which to be thankful and now this amazing trip  with family is also on the list.

Lucas’s 9th Birthday

Amid the chaos of our Halloween hangover, we celebrated Lucas’s 9th birthday on November 1st. The last single-digit birthday … sigh. We celebrated at Il Fornaio with uncle Dave and our new au pair, Elin! She’s been with us about a month and we’re so lucky to have her.

Lucas celebrated with a small group of friends last weekend. He opened his presents and cards from family and friends. I might be biased, but I think he was most grateful for his Pokemon cards from mom and dad. Thanks for everyone’s generosity.

Happy Birthday, Lucas. We love you!

Visiting Family and Friends in Michigan

There were three reasons for our annual trip home to Michigan:

  1. Visiting Michigan grandparents, seeing aunt Jen, and catching up with friends.
  2. Attending Sae Jong Camp
  3. My golf tour of Michigan

Last year, because we attended a reunion before camp, the kids didn’t feel like they had enough time at grandma and grandpa’s house. Thus, this year we went a few days early not only to adjust to the time, but also to spend quality time with family and friends.

Highlights:

  • Grace’s parents happened to be traveling back to LA from Michigan as we were landing, so they met us at the gate to say hello. Our flight was delayed, so we only had time to walk them down to their gate. Still, it was a great surprise for all of us.
  • My mom always likes to cook the kids’ favorite foods. Olivia’s best compliment to her was that we were so lucky to grow up with such great food. This is true!
  • We visited with the Melanie and Nick for a bit and Randy also came over.
  • Last year, I took my dad downtown to explore. This year, the kids and I took my mom. We went back to midtown and had lunch at Jolly Pumpkin and also visited the Shinola store for some souvenirs. The kids were also mesmerized by an actual turntable (hint hint, Santa).
  • We tried flying our kites again, but it was futile. I’ve done it many times as a kid back there, but now I think the forest has grown too tall and was blocking the wind. The kids never tire of my childhood elementary school playground.
  • We met up with the Feleses again for dinner and dessert at Stroh’s. We wouldn’t have another chance because they were off to Spain for an awesome summer adventure.
  • On Saturday, we met Jea and Eddie’s family in Ann Arbor. Jea and Emma were touring Chicago colleges and then everyone met up to visit Michigan in Ann Arbor. We had lunch together at Zingerman’s (check!)
  • Our golf tour included a detour to Ludington. Eddie’s parents invited me and Joe to stay at their place. I hadn’t been there in well over 20 years. Top Gun was being screened as we arrived. We slumber partied with Ethan in the basement like we were all 13 years old. We got the full Ludington experience, including tennis, lunch and golf.
  • After bringing the kids back from camp, I went to Michigan to have brunch with Fran and Jon. The Brimhalls were visiting their old hood from their new hood in Telluride.
  • Finally, on our last day, Kristen and Scott happened to be home visiting Scott’s parents, so we met up with Riley and Natalie in Birmingham.

For as much as we squeezed in, there wasn’t enough time to see everyone. We’ll be back in December for the holidays and will hopefully have a chance to see more friends then.

Father’s Day 2017

It’s rare that I get to celebrate Father’s Day with my dad. Thankfully, Grace made sure to arrange my parents’ visit to include the holiday. We had a big day ahead, so we went out to an early brunch at Il Fornaio (thanks, Mom and Dad!).

Grace took the kids to the SPCA on Saturday. Olivia wanted to show me some kittens she liked so my dad and I took them again after brunch. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the kitties (from Hawaii) looked a lot like Snickers. I could have earned about a million Dad points if we brought one (or both?) home, but this was not the day. Sorry, Olivia.

My parents and Albert’s parents met briefly at Operetta and we’ve been meaning to get them together since then. Father’s day was our last chance this visit, so we invited the entire Lee clan over, including Albert’s brother and sister-in-law, Mike and Amy, and their kids. It was a busy day for all of them, especially as Julie and Albert were just getting back from LA, so we appreciate them making time to join us.

Julie and Albert feed us Kobe Fred steaks pretty much every time we go over to their house. Ironically, Albert said he’s not much of a steak guy when going out, but he mentioned in passing that he will order prime rib. Even though I only had one under my belt, I decided that would be on the menu. I had a long conversation with Guy at Pape Meat Co. and even though he said it was too much meat, I brought home a full (7 bones) prime grade prime rib. The last one was four bones and only 7.5 pounds, so I was surprised when this one was rung up at 20 lbs. It was about what I imagine an actual cow would cost.

We had our work cut out for us, but first I had to figure out how to cook it. It all fit onto the Big Green Egg and I gave it a little extra time to cook (about four hours at 250). I determined that I need an extra thermometer because the smaller piece was a lot more done than the other, which was fine because some of this crew likes it a little more done. The biggest challenge was slow cooking on a day of record high temperatures.

Grace and my mom went crazy with lobster roll appetizers and sides. It all came out beautifully. We needed about 3 or 4 more families to finish the prime rib. The kids played some serious HORSE with uncle Dave until it was dark. Ellie is showing a lot of promise at hoops and Theo’s hard work is paying off.

It was a very happy Father’s Day. Thanks to all the moms for making it happen!