4th Grade Outdoor Ed Trip to Coloma

Every year the 4th graders attend outdoor education at Coloma. This year, Grace Jedi mind-tricked me into applying, partially and ironically as a way to earn back my trust level with Lucas for sending him to … summer camp. I applied and won the “lottery!”

The truth is that I didn’t even know where Coloma was until a couple days before the trip. In my mind, it was in the Santa Cruz mountains. In reality, it’s in gold country, northeast of Sacramento. As we all learned on the trip, it was where gold was first discovered in 1948, which led to the gold rush the following year.

Although I had some things at work hanging over my head, having zero cell reception was as good excuse as any to unplug for a few days and immerse myself in the experience. As the parents and faculty were seeing us off, there seemed to be an equal number of thank yous and good lucks, striking a balance between gratitude and fear.

Sure we know 34 4th graders have the potential to be a rowdy bunch, particularly the boys with whom I bunked, but really they’re a super awesome group of kids. I got to know the 3 teachers, 5 other parent chaperones and most importantly the kids a lot better over the three days and two nights away from home. I even learned more about Lucas, observing him with his classmates in this beautiful setting away from school.

I was super impressed with the Coloma Outdoor Discovery School (CODS). The staff were great with the kids, being inclusive and attentive to individual needs and personalities. The program was educational not only about the history of the gold rush, but also about respecting nature and the earth. One evening a direct descendant of the native people who inhabited the Coloma area long before the 49ers arrived gave a rich account of her people and also a challenge to each child to make a difference in their communities. I thought it was awesome.

That doesn’t really cover everything we did and saw during our time, but the pictures hopefully fill in the rest. I feel very fortunate to have spent this time with this group and hope Lucas will remember sharing it with me, too. Thanks to The Carey School for having me along.

Business Trip to Tokyo

Last week I went to Tokyo for business. It was my first time traveling to Japan since my one and only visit in 1979. I had to ask my mother for details. After her father semi-retired from practicing medicine in Korea, he wanted to keep working and had an opportunity to work with a friend in Japan. While it probably wasn’t common for Koreans to immigrate to Japan, my grandparents lived outside of Hiroshima from about 1970 to 1990, during which time I visited them.

I had been meaning to get to our Tokyo office for quite some time, but schedules got in the way. The opportunity to travel with colleagues presented itself last week, so I took it. It was an amazing week to meet and connect with the various teams there and our hosts could not have been more gracious and inviting. We enjoyed many meals together and had productive meetings.

We also took the opportunity to explore a bit, venturing further and further from the comforts of Roppongi Hills as the week went on. I had some great meals during the week based on recommendations from friends and hosts. The truth is I had Starbuck’s every morning, two hamburgers for lunch, and zero sushi all week. I did have amazing Katsu while meeting up with my b-school friend, Tom. In the it’s-a-small-world department, I randomly ran into a dad from Lucas’s school.

My colleagues and I ordered ramen from a vending machine and also figured out the subway to Harujuku one evening. Half of us indulged in a second dinner (the really hungry half). I stayed one extra night by myself to explore. I caught up with another b-school friend, Trista, who lived not far away. It was great to catch up with her.

The best meal I had was ironically French, at L’Atelier de Joel Rubuchon (RIP). The last time dining at one of his restaurants was on Grace’s 40th birthday in Paris. I wasn’t super hungry so I ordered a 4-course meal, which was perfect. Although I could have stayed in to watch the Ryder Cup (glad I didn’t), I instead got on a bus to Shibuya to see what it was all about. At that hour, the crossing was busy, but not worthy of a time-lapse or extra effort. The general people watching was entertainment enough.

Although I had visions of pulling an all-nighter so I could sleep on the plane and get back on schedule, I can only keep myself company for so long. After wandering around (and around) and having the wrong people ask me the wrong questions, I decided it was time to get out of there. What I didn’t know was that public transit ends at midnight. It was 1am. Apparently I’m terrible at hailing a taxi and/or recognizing who was for hire, so I just started walking. Eventually, down a dark alley, I caught a cab just as some people were getting out.

On Saturday, I headed back to Shibuya to meet up with an old work friend, Benjamin, who was spending a month in Japan. Great catching up with him as well. I was only a little worried about getting out before the Typhoon arrived. I might have arrived at the airport a little early, but it gave me time to buy some gifts and get in one last meal of Katsu curry.

I would have loved to stay longer, but I had to get back to the family for Elin’s last weekend at home with us. I’m sure I’ll be back in Tokyo again. Apparently, my Epic ski pass works at Hakuba Valley in Nagano, so it just might be when the powder is deep.

 

Lions vs. 49ers at Levi’s Stadium

On September 16th, Hans invited our family to the 49ers game. Coincidentally, it was against my hometown team, the Detroit Lions. After 18 years of living here, this was my first 49ers game (I’m admittedly not a big pro sports fan).

I had a sense we weren’t sitting in the cheap seats, so I informed the kids not to get too used to the accommodations, which turned out to be stunning. Lucas said if there was a bathroom and shower, he could live there. It was a huge treat.

In the end, the Lions didn’t pull it off, but at least made it close. I’m sure my Bay Area friends were happy with the outcome. For me, it was nice to catch up with an old friend and see him doing well in his new venture.

Thanks, Hans, for the amazing hospitality.

Annual Summer Trip to Michigan

Despite Lucas’s apprehension about his 3rd year at SJC, the whole family made the trip to Michigan in August. My plan was to press re-play on my amazing week last year, but JP wasn’t available to be my golf partner-in-crime, so I had to recruit a new ride-or-die: Grace.

We always try to head east a few days early so the kids can get acclimated to the timezone change, which gives them some QT with Grandma and Grandpa at their place. The wide open spaces are never lost on them and we make the most of it. Aunt Jen was home, too, which made it even more fun.

Lucas could not like sandwiches less, but he persevered at Zingerman’s. We paid a visit to M Den, as we swap out their old Adidas gear for new Nike swag. We were also lucky to spend a little time with the Feleses and the Milano-Sessines, the latter of whom were coincidentally in town for a family visit.

On Sunday after dropping the kids at camp, Grace and I got on the road for the two-hour trip west to Arcadia Bluffs for our afternoon tee time. The nice thing about twilight golf there is that they play bagpipes while you look for your ball. We spent two nights there and enjoyed both the dining and accommodations. On Monday, Eddie, Ethan and Dr. Lee drove up from Ludington to make our foursome in the morning. Grace joined me in the afternoon for my second 18 of the day.

On Tuesday, Grace decided she had enough golf and flew to NYC for work from Traverse City. I drove her up there in the morning and turned right back around to head down to Ludington to play golf with Eddie, Emma and Ethan. We had dinner at the club with the entire family. I got on the road with the intention of driving back to West Bloomfield, but Ed called and talked me out of it. Once again, I was rooming with Ethan in the basement.

Wednesday, I did make it back home and hung out with my parents. On Thursday, I had breakfast with Jon and Greg in Ann Arbor. While waiting for my coffee, I made a call to Forest Dunes and found that there were afternoon tee times available, so I drove up there myself, played 18 and had dinner with Paula, David, Jeanah and Christine. I stayed there overnight and had the first tee time as a single on the new Loop course, which is supposedly the only reversible course in the US. I totally forgot it was walking only and what I envisioned as a two hour speed round turned into a three hour stroll looking for my ball. I was officially golfed-out.

The rest of my trip was my high school reunion, which was another highlight of the week. The beginning and middle were great, too. Can’t wait to do it all again next year.

Sae Jong Camp – 2018

This was the kids’ 3rd year attending SJC and I was relieved it was now part of our routine. Olivia has been really looking forward to it, but about a month before camp, Lucas was starting to share his reservations. He said it was 40% spiders, 35% friends, 10% skit and 15% other.  These were some serious concerns.

Things were getting critical in the days leading up to camp. Grace was making all sorts of side-deals (one shower?!?). I don’t negotiate with terrorists, so I stayed firm and became the “worst person in the world” for making him go, officially earning my tiger dad black belt. He’s still holding a grudge.

There were 64 campers this year, 15 of whom were new. Of those 15, six belonged to David, Grace and Tessie, three of our closest family friends. It was so nice to see them all there finally and each of us had a girl in Olivia’s cabin while Lucas was in a cabin with David’s youngest. Zoë was also finally a first-time camper, too. I’m now used to seeing regular out-of-state friends at drop off and pick up, including my ride-or-die, Joe, who chose to be a good husband instead of a shitty golfer with me all week.

Jeanah pulled a Thelma and Louse with Christine and drove all the way from Philly for our mini reunion later in the week. I had a great time with them and Paula and David at Forest Dunes. It was great to see many old friends at visitor’s day, especially Heather and her dad, who along with her mom, were always thoughtful supporters of mine when I was directing.

I’m pretty sure the kids had a great time at camp, even Lucas, who just won’t admit it yet. Thanks to Jami for directing, the awesome staff for their enthusiasm and empathy, and Doug for continuing to bear the torch of SJC. Our kids are all so lucky and I’m thankful they still have many years of camp ahead. May they appreciate the experience in the moment and years from now, as I do.

WBHS 30th Reunion

This past weekend the WBHS class of 1988 celebrated our 30th high school reunion. Jen, Randy, Stephanie, and Jodi did an amazing job or organizing this event at the Red Dunn outside the Trumbull & Porter hotel in Detroit. Brad was our awesome DJ. It was a great venue for all of us to catch up after too many years.

Like so many of our other reunions, it just never seems like enough time to catch up with everyone. Aside from so many good friends who weren’t able to attend, there were people I saw with whom I didn’t get to speak to, which is regretful. That said, I’m so thankful for all the meaningful connections I made over the weekend. It’s hard to catch up on decades of being apart. The best was reminiscing fun times and remembering our dearly departed friends.

As my kids grow, I get more and more perspective on how great my childhood was in West Bloomfield among so many great people. I feel fortunate for the friends we had, the space we had to explore and roam, and all the mischief we had up and down Orchard Lake Road.

Sorry for some out of focus photos included here – the softness was unintentional. Thanks to Ross for cropping me out of the photo with Nancy – fair warning for anyone needing an amputation below the ankle. Until we all meet again, take care, everyone!

Week in Tahoe with the Moons

We’ve had many Tahoe adventures with the Moons over the years. Now that their home is finally ready, we were honored to be the first guests to break in the house (figuratively and literally). I guess the real honor goes to Ed’s bachelor party, but there wasn’t a speck of glitter anywhere, so it’s like it never happened.

We arrived on Monday and had lunch at the family barn, which is just a short walk from their home. It wasn’t hard to keep busy for a week with so much to do. The kids got started on a fort, which kept them busy throughout the week. Olivia is really wanting a dog, so spending time with Thando was good practice.

On Tuesday, Elin, Mike and I took the kids to the ropes course, which was challenging and a lot of fun for everyone. It’s a little bit Truman Show to be able to either fish or go bowling only 100 yards apart, but those were our options in the afternoon. Elin took Nico and Lucas bowling while Alex, Olivia and I went fishing. We heard they’re getting smarter and they did prove hard to catch. I got lucky and snagged a 10-12″ trout. Eventually the others found us and both Nico and Olivia hooked a fish but both fell off before landing them.

On July 4th, Mike wanted to go on a hike/adventure he had heard about at Crystal Peak. Apparently, the Crystal Mine trail ends on a mountain of quartz, which is there for the taking (one bucket-full per car per day). We had no real idea where we were going and there was a dispute between Google Maps, Waze and the internet. We also ended up off-roading for miles and had read that the last part of the trail required 4-wheel drive and clearance. I think we looked a bit out of place with all of the 4-wheel dune buggies whizzing by, but we made it all the way up. The kids thought it was fun.

There was no real objective when looking at a huge pile of rocks, so we told them to start digging up a huge crystal embedded in the mountain. That kept them busy for an hour or so (not even close to dislodging it). Eventually they started to search for and collect clear crystals, which were also hard to come by. After a couple hours, we decided to head out and went out a different way, which we were hoping was a little easier on the car. It wasn’t. The rugged terrain lulled everyone to sleep for what turned out to be a 65-mile drive deep into Nevada and back to Tahoe.

Grace brought a lot of food, which included a colorful 4th of July BBQ featuring Fred Steaks. We finished early enough to head down to Tahoe City to catch the fireworks. Things didn’t get underway until well past 9:30pm when it got truly dark out. Of the 600+ photos I took on the trip, it’s possible that 300+ were of fireworks. I posted one, which still looks terrible. I think the iPhone has those nailed.

Thursday, we wanted to go to the beach on Lake Tahoe. Thando was joining us, so it had to be dog-friendly, which ruled out our usual Sand Harbor. Mike determined that Chimney Beach was the place to go, but it has limited parking so we got a very early start and were one of the first people there. Elin and I were trying to guess the water temperature in both Celsius and Fahrenheit. Either way, it was super cold, but the kids and Elin braved it (well, Lucas was less brave). We stopped at the Lone Eagle restaurant in Incline Village for lunch, which was well deserved after the big hike back to the cars. Clara, Mike, Grace and I had one adults-only dinner out at Plumpjack Cafe at Squaw Valley.

Friday, we played putt-putt, which wasn’t the hit it through the windmill type, but rather real greens meandering through the neighborhood. There was a lot of slope to the greens, which resulted in some big scores. Some of the group stopped after 9 holes, but Elin, Nico, Lucas and I pressed on to finish 18. There was a great family festival going on, which kept the kids busy for a while. Mike, Grace and I left early to play real golf. The Martis Camp course is so beautiful and is in amazing condition (until we came along). Mike got some advice to stay out of the bunkers, which was sage. It didn’t help.

On Saturday, we had one last meal together and prepared to head home to the real world. The kids were excited to show us their fort, which was a legit lean-to. We were sad to leave after such a fun-filled week with our gracious hosts. Thank you, Moons, for another amazing vacation together.

Olivia’s Carey School Graduation

On Thursday, June 7th, Olivia graduated from The Carey School. It does seem like yesterday that she just finishing Kindergarten, though she has spent more than half her life at this school. Upon reflection, it has been everything we hoped for when she started: kind friends, amazing teachers (all of them) and administrators, and a wonderful community of parents and supporters.

Elementary school graduation has a lot more pomp and circumstance than I remember from my time finishing 5th grade. That said, these kids are different. While we know they grown up in their little bubble, they’re also very aware of what’s going on in their community, their country and around the world. They’ve studied and participated in movements with empathy and passion. They’re truly little citizens of the world and I do have hope that they’ll do better than we have in bringing people together.

A lot of families were graduating their last or only child this week. Thankfully, we still have a couple more years at Carey for Lucas. As for Olivia, we know she’s ready for middle school and are excited about everything new she will be experiencing.

Thanks to all of Olivia’s grandparents and Aunt Jen and Uncle Dave for coming to celebrate with us. We had a luncheon with Julie and Albert’s family at Il Fornaio (where else?) to toast our little graduates, Olivia and Olivia. Best wishes to them both! We love you.

6th Annual Carey Dad’s BBQ

On Sunday, June 3rd, Adam, Justin and I hosted our 6th annual BBQ for the Carey dads. Justin upped his game this year with his barrel smoker due to his PTSD of not cooking enough ribs last year. This year, he finished 12 ribs just in time for dessert (jk). Adam’s beef ribs were awesome and Grace’s Korean galbi short ribs were prepared with extra love.

Thanks to all the dads (and wives who signed them up) for coming out to support our school and community. See you next year!