U2 – Joshua Tree Tour in San Diego with Childhood BFFs

I tried to get Chris to join us for U2 at Levi’s Stadium, but the timing just wasn’t right. After U2 added a San Diego stop to their Joshua Tree tour, Chris returned the favor and invited me to come down. Grace is in Hong Kong with her family and my parents are visiting to help out, so I didn’t decide to go down until this week.

About an hour after landing, Chris had me in a wet suit, crashing through the surf in a sea kayak, which was reminiscent of Castaway. I didn’t curse him the entire time, but I was wondering why he couldn’t just take me to brunch? Honestly, we had a great time and although I requested an encounter with a sea otter, the next best thing were sea lion cubs. The highlight was riding in on the surf to La Jolla beach in our kayak without disaster.

We stopped at Chris’s house to say hi to Laura and regroup. After Cooper and Stella came home from school, we went to Cooper’s football game before heading over to Steve and Vickie’s new house near University of San Diego. Scott was late getting back from SF, but arrived at Steve’s just after we did. We didn’t make it a priority to see the opening act (Beck) and had dinner before the show instead.

I’m just going to come out and say that the show at Levi’s wasn’t my favorite. It was only the 3rd stop on the tour and it seems they were still working out some glitches. They completely shit the bed on “With or Without You,” I didn’t like the arrangement of “Running to Stand Still” (my favorite JT track), and some of the other songs just seemed off. This San Diego show was the last US stop, so by now they had plenty of practice.

Everything about the show was better. Though technically it was the first day of autumn, it still felt like a warm summer night. The electricity of the crowd was palpable from the very beginning. There were more chills even though I knew exactly what to expect. They completely worked out “With Or Without You,” “Running to Stand Still” was closer to the album version, the encore set was better, and they finished the evening with “One” instead of a slow song that nobody had ever heard.

Most importantly, I was with my BFFs. Chris and Steve were with me at the Silverdome show. It wasn’t until last night that I found out that Scott wasn’t with us that night because he had too much integrity to call in sick to Dunham’s. Though looking back it’s a big regret for him (and us), it’s not surprising at all. None of these guys have changed a bit.

We packed a lot in during my 27 hours in San Diego. Thanks to Chris for hosting me for the show and at his home. Also, thanks to my parents for getting the kids to two soccer games and swim while I was gone.

Epic Michigan Golf Tour

After dropping Lucas and Olivia off at camp, I had absolutely no where to be. Joseph (JP) and I have been contemplating this situation for some time. Still, we had no real plans.

We’ve been wanting to play Arcadia Bluffs for a while, but the opportunity didn’t arise until just a day or so before camp when a cancellation opened a spot on Monday. We left JP’s car at camp and headed to Crystal Mountain, which was not far from Arcadia Bluffs. When we arrived, we headed straight to the pro shop and got in a full round on the Mountain Course well before dark.

Eddie was visiting his parents in Ludington, which is about an hour away. On Monday, he and Ethan rounded out our foursome at Arcadia Bluffs. Despite living most of my life in Michigan, I had only laid eyes on Lake Michigan from the Michigan side a few times. I wasn’t quite prepared for how beautiful everything was: the lake, the elevation, and the links course nestled in the golden heather. Even though it was a tough course, JP went low and was actually under par through 9. Wow. I got our money’s worth on a per stroke basis. We all had lunch together and then JP and I decided to replay. We got in a solid 15 holes before we called it due to darkness. The wind had kicked up towards the end of the first round, but by late afternoon it was calm and beautiful as could be.

We had also secured a tee time for Tuesday. However, the one thing that didn’t go our way was that we wanted a room at AB, but it was booked (we only asked about 20 times during the day about cancellations). Graciously, Dr. and Mrs. Lee invited us over to their house, so we headed to Ludington. We got there late and stayed up even later being entertained by JP. On Wednesday morning, JP had to switch sports to tennis along with the entire Lee family. I went in search of coffee and postcards for the kids. We played golf at the Lees’ club, Lincoln Hills, followed by dinner together. We couldn’t have been more thankful for all their hospitality while we were golfing vagabonds.

Jen happened to be in Traverse City visiting friends, so we headed there to see them out at the bar. JP hit a wall like I’ve never seen (he’s usually always high octane), so we found a place to stay in downtown TC. Somehow he mustered some energy for 11pm ice cream. The next day we decided to play “The Bear” at the Grand Traverse, which was also a first for me. It was difficult, but fun. We had already payed for a reply when JP got the bat signal from our friend Anita that she was in town but had to head back to NY early. We changed gears and drove 3.5 hours back towards my parents house to meet up at Christine’s house.

JP now had the opportunity to entertain my parents for a couple days. We played U of M on Thursday (exactly a year to the day from our last round there). We had dinner at home together with Jen and cancelled our Friday golf plans at Forest Dunes. Our luck continued when a room finally opened up at Forest Dunes, which is the resort at which we stayed last year with Grace and YY. We got rained out then, so we were determined to play there this year. JP fancies himself a very lucky guy and true to form, when we checked in, they put us in a two-bedroom cottage because there was a group of 24 dudes that were expected to be a little rowdy. Perfect!

We finally got our last round together in at Forest Dunes, which didn’t disappoint. There was a lot of trouble and the greens were fast. The good news was that I made it through the whole week with only the balls I brought (and found of course).

I haven’t played this much golf since my honeymoon (Grace is the best). I just can’t see why this doesn’t become the annual ritual while the kids are in camp. We’re currently accepting applications for our 3rd and 4th players.

Olivia and Lucas Attend SJC – Year 2

After several years of conditioning, last year’s SJC experience was a huge success. The kids had such a great time and couldn’t wait to go back this summer. I couldn’t wait to take them!

I think they’re still processing their experience. Lucas knew all his friends from last year would be intermediates this year, so he was a little unsure about what to expect. He had three brand new campers in his cabin and he said he liked it better because he was the only experienced one in his cabin. Both kids said Junior Program was WAY better. Olivia had many of the same girls in her cabin. Whether she liked this year better or not, camp seems to have relieved her “resting sad face” as I see her huge smiles in many photos, which is very gratifying.

Each year, I see more and more of my friends sending their kids to camp, which is awesome. While giving the kids their first taste of Big Boy, I ran into Cathy who was taking her daughter up for the first time. I saw Liz earlier this year and mentioned SJC and she brought Benjamin all the way from California. Sue Ann was the camp health officer. Joseph continues to entertain the campers 31 years later. Anita’s oldest son was Lucas’s CIT! And, I’m still waiting on Grace, Tessie and Clara to enroll their kids (though it’s always great to see them visiting).

I still can’t thank all of the staff enough for taking such good care of our kids. Thanks to Jami and Tyler for stepping up as Program Directors. And, as always, a big thanks to Doug for his continued dedication to the camp his mom started  41 years ago.

It’s still the best, most magical place on earth. I’m hopeful Olivia and Lucas have many more years ahead of them to enjoy it. Maybe one day I’ll be lucky enough to come out of retirement???

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.

Dinner in SF with Marisa and Herb

Marisa and Herb made last minute plans to come to San Francisco for their 3rd anniversary. I was able to see them in Chicago a couple years ago, but we haven’t all been together since their beautiful wedding. They were staying at the W, which is super close to my office. They stopped by POPSUGAR for a bit while touring SF.

Grace came up to the city after work and we met up at their hotel to meet Rocky, their super cute 3-7 year old dog (rescue). We had dinner at one of our favorites, Kokkari. It was awesome to catch up after way too long.

Karim and David’s Wedding Rehearsal

We were honored to be included in Karim and David’s wedding rehearsal at the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay. The kids always enjoy being on the beautiful grounds. It was nice to see the entire Hong family and especially meeting Karim and her mother.

We all enjoyed the beautiful sunset dinner at Navio. I got in some good QT with Kyeong-Ah’s youngest. We were hoping that they would have the same gorgeous coastal weather for the wedding the following day and it turned out to be even nicer.

Wishing them both a lifetime of happiness and health.

Carmel Valley Ranch With The Lees

We had planned to skip our annual summer trip to Carmel Valley Ranch because we went to Las Vegas instead. Julie and Albert were going for 4th of July weekend and we got the hard sell to join them, the main argument being that Albert didn’t want to golf alone. Grace and I could not let Albert golf alone.

The kids were all in golf camp together last week, so we all didn’t leave until Saturday. We had a late lunch, which threw a wrench in our pizza dinner plans. The kids ended up eating s’mores before we headed to the pool for a late dinner. They showed us their golf skills as we waited for the bus to take us back.

On Sunday, Julie insisted that she was fine taking all five kids while we golfed. She does this all the time throughout the school year, but we still feel she should have just golfed with us. She has many reasons why she isn’t golfing: needs new clubs, will get frustrated, will get angry, etc. We tried to assure her that we all need new clubs, get frustrated and get angry, so we might as well do it together. It’s our mission to get her out there.

This was the first time golfing there for me and Grace. It was fun, but Grace and Albert need new clubs and everyone was frustrated and angry by the end of the round. We met up with Julie and the kids at the pool and spent the rest of the afternoon there.

I dropped off the kids at minimum security (kids club) while Julie, Albert and Grace got a head start on cocktails. We enjoyed a leisurely adult dinner together. Despite the pace, there was still time for Grace to fetch the kids for one more night of s’mores.

On Monday, we had our usual breakfast together, followed by a photo session. All the big kids were coerced into going on the bee experience. While Julie and Grace took them to face their fears, Albert and I took Theo to the range to face our own fears.

After lunch in the club house, we went to downtown Carmel as Olivia and I were on a mission to get more Mackintosh’s Toffee, which we scored last year at the Cottage of Sweets. When I was a kid, my friends would bring this back from Canada, and to this day, I think it is the best candy in the world.

The Lees were staying one more night, but we were heading home that evening. We said our goodbyes after an awesome trip together and got on our way. Thanks for letting us crash your summer vacation!

Kellogg BBQ With Hayashis, Vivian and Emory Cho

Julia and Warren were making their annual summer trip to the US from Singapore, so we had them over for a BBQ. Vivian happened to be in town from the Philippines and it was very nice to be able to see her.  Finally, Emory Cho made her debut. Esther and Jon have that second child calmness and Ellie is a doting big sister.

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!