There were three reasons for our annual trip home to Michigan:
- Visiting Michigan grandparents, seeing aunt Jen, and catching up with friends.
- Attending Sae Jong Camp
- 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.
- 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.
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!
We’ve been starting summer the last couple years in Carmel. However, my parents came to visit for a few weeks, so we decided to take them on one of our Vegas excursions. Jen was needed to complete team Rhee, so she came out to CA and flew with us.
Our Vegas crew also includes Jea and Eddie. I’ve been asking them for years to bring the kids, which is always harder for our normal Spring or Fall trips. We planned this after school was out for everyone, so Emma, Ethan and Audrey finally made their debut in Las Vegas. This was a first for both families to be traveling together, unless you count our chance encounter in Vail a few years back.
The kids finished school on Thursday morning, and by that afternoon we were on our way. Our flight was a little delayed, so we went straight to our scheduled dinner at the new Momofuku in the Cosmopolitan, which hadn’t opened yet when we were there in December for Jen’s birthday. Eddie’s family were not arriving until the next day, so it was just us.
Bobby, who does not love Las Vegas, happened to be be in town for one last bachelor party. He came in a little early so we could golf together on Friday morning at Bear’s Best. He came and had lunch with the family, who were out at the pool. We haven’t really been to Vegas in the summer in a while, so it was nice that it was warm, but it was unexpectedly windy.
The Lees finally arrived right before dinner, after a very long day of flying to LA and driving to Vegas from there. We were happy to finally all be together and enjoyed a great meal at Mon Ami Gabi. Emma, Ethan and Audrey were already getting the full Vegas treatment. Because it was their first time, we crossed the street to watch the Bellagio fountains for a while.
Ed and I played golf at Royal Links early Saturday morning. Everyone else had breakfast at the Wynn and went straight to the cabana. The Wynn pool is a lot better for the kids and the Lee kids were now very deep into the routine. We all got a little rest and had the kids eat before seeing Blue Man Group, which they all loved. Afterward, the kids stayed together while all the adults had a late dinner.
We had an early flight on Sunday, so we enjoyed one last meal together at a new restaurant at the hotel. Our kids had a great time with the whole Lee family. We hope they’ll be a regular part of the crew next time (i.e., this Fall).
After a lot of skiing this winter, we decided to road trip to Los Angeles for spring break. The main motivation was because Grace was convinced her mom was turning 75 and wanted to have a surprise party for her. Then Addy and Charles changed their plans to meet us in LA, and Dave came down, too.
We drove down on Saturday and stayed in Westwood. We were going to go to Santa Monica, but decided to go to Century City for dinner instead. While there, we decided to see a movie. The nice thing about taking your kids to a 9:30pm movie is that no other parents bring their kids to a 9:30pm movie. I stayed awake for all of Boss Baby. They loved it.
When Grace was planning her mom’s dinner, she mentioned it was going to be on April 9th. Ummm, that’s our anniversary… No matter – it’s her 75th! We celebrated our anniversary at lunch instead with the kids at Bouchon. Lucas was very leery of French food, but found the donuts to his liking. We did some shopping for Grace’s mom in the afternoon.
The kids wanted to visit with Emme and Elsen before dinner even though we didn’t have much time. I took the opportunity to catch up very briefly with my long lost friend from home, Joanne, who also lives in Santa Monica. Our visit was too short, but still long overdue. So great to see her and meet her sons.
Sometime before all the family arrived at the restaurant for Grace’s mom’s surprise, we determined that it was actually her 76th birthday. Surprise! She deserved a big party anyway, so it was all good. Awesome to see all the Park cousins.
On Monday, we met up with the family at République in Los Angeles. It is a beautiful building, which used to be Charlie Chaplin’s estate. When I got there, I looked up and saw someone familiar. My instinct was to say hello and his instinct was to say hello back. It was Henry Winkler. Who is more familiar than the Fonz? That was one of the highlights of my
Grace went with her mom and sister to the spa, so I took the kids to the Grove to get out of the house (i.e., off their devices). We went to a real book store, which had real books (each kid got 2). We had more donuts, ice cream, and people-watching. Afterwards, we went to Slurpin’ Ramen Bar to celebrate Dave’s birthday a little early.
On Tuesday, we went to Universal Studios, which was the 2nd big reason for our LA spring break: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Ann and Emme joined us (Elsen had no idea what he was missing). The kids have been wanting to do this for a while and were so excited. I had no idea about the rides, but we all (adults) got so wrecked by the Forbidden Journey. I took more than one for the team and rode that one twice (worse the 2nd time because it broke down the first time and I didn’t have to suffer through Quidditch). By the time we got on the Minions ride, I learned to just keep my eyes closed the entire time. I’m still sick.
Everyone enjoyed the studio tour. Seeing animatronic Jaws made the kids feel a little better about sharks after I screened Jaws for them a few weeks ago. We were all traumatized by it when we were kids; I didn’t see why they shouldn’t be, too.
Wednesday was a very routine beach day in Manhattan Beach. By routine, I mean lunch at Rock’n Fish, beach, Starbuck’s, and the Creamery. Every. Single. Time. That evening we had dinner with Ann and Jeremy at Katsuya in Brentwood.
Thursday, we had lunch with Grace’s parents in Westwood after I upgraded them from 0 MB DSL service, which was killing me, but was the only thing instilling grit in the kids on this trip. We walked to the other end of Westwood and back and then loaded up the car to drive home.
My spring break officially started on Friday with the first round of golf in a long while with Charles and Albert in Half Moon Bay. We spend the rest of the weekend with Addy and Charles, who left early on Sunday. Our nice break ended with Easter brunch at the Crowthers’ and dinner with Jeanah and Christine at our house.
Our awesome niece (cousin, once-removed), Rylee, just got into Berkeley. Her family changed their Spring Break plans last minute to come to the Bay Area to see the campus. They’ve hosted us so many times during our Michigan Hur reunions that we really wanted to have them over.
It was great seeing Young Joo, Il, Harrison and Rylee during their brief visit. Olivia and Lucas always love seeing their cousins.
On Thursday, December 29th, we had one last family gathering in NYC to celebrate Olivia’s 10th birthday. She and the rest of the family had been to Hakkasan before with Dave’s boss and she really enjoyed their macarons, so she requested that restaurant. This was my first time eating at any Hakkasan and the food was great.
What a special occasion to spend our last night in New York before heading home. We can’t believe Olivia is double-digits. Happy Birthday to our beloved Olivia!
After Christmas, we decided to spend a few days in NYC. We enjoyed meals with all the Parks and Rhees Bottega and Quality Italian. With met up with Clarence and his kids at the Time Warner Center, which was where we were staying. I had wanted to watch Rogue One, but the kids insisted on seeing Sing and Moana first. My dad joined us for the former on his 80th Birthday.
On the way back from Moana, we looked around Times Square for a bit and decided to take the subway home for fun. We popped out right at Columbus Circle and I saw this dude wearing my coat. Then I notice that this dude is Danny, one of the only people I know who lives in Manhattan. What a small world.
On our last morning in NYC, everyone slept in a bit, so I went out for a walk in Central Park, which we never do. We met up with Ana, Bobby, the boys and my sister and parents for lunch in Koreatown for one last meal before heading out to the airport.
The holidays are always nice in NYC. We’ll be back again soon, I hope.