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.

7th Annual U of M Holiday Dinner and Gift Exchange

Although we’ve been gathering for years (odd, no football this year), by my count, we’ve been celebrating the holidays together for 7 straight years. This year, the Idemas graciously hosted at their beautiful home. I caught a glimpse of the shimmering new pool, but we won’t be wreaking havoc out there until next year.

Although Krista might be writing a letter to management about the seating arrangement, we ended up in two distinct dining areas. Dinner and desert were amazing, but the true main course is our gift exchange. You would think that with wisdom and experience, our gifts would become more age-appropriate. However, they’re only becoming more outlandish and yet strangely useful (my “Pocket Kim Wisdom” book excepted).

The photos are otherwise presented without commentary as they speak for themselves. A warning to all, if you pose for the photo, it’s definitely going to end up on the internet. I think you all look amazing.

Thank you, Idemas, for hosting another memorable event! Happy Holidays and GO BLUE!

Work Hiatus Golf in San Francisco and Las Vegas

For the first time ever, I took off a little time between jobs. By first time, I mean the first time when I voluntarily changed jobs vs. being laid off or unemployed. Somehow, I found myself quite busy during this time, as Grace gave me a big punch list of things to do around the house and for the family. Honestly, I didn’t knock it all out, but I did my best and made some progress. It also helped that I didn’t have a car to fix.

First, big shout out to my buddy Albert who took off several stealth days from work, including the first and last days of official time off to golf with me. We got in a round at Half Moon Bay on day 1 (Erich also joined that day) as well as a couple rounds at Harding Park in San Francisco. I also got in one solo round of contemplation during week one.

For the last hurrah, Eddie met me in Las Vegas for 5 days. I can’t tell you how relaxing it was relative to our normal itinerary, which usually involves break-of-dawn golf, pool with the kids, dinners, etc. (i.e., too tired to gamble). Aside from our morning tee times, we had no agenda. We got in four rounds of golf at Bear’s Best, Royal Links, Paiute Wolf and Coyote Springs. The weather was perfect for golf in the desert.

Each day we had lunch when we were done and dinner whenever we were hungry. We had great meals in the Encore/Wynn where we stayed and also ventured off the property to Carnevino (best lamb chops ever) and a romantic dinner outdoors at Mon Ami Gabi. We had some fun in between, but truthfully, we were in bed by 10pm on day one and got crushed on day three, also resulting in an early night. Although we see each other once and sometimes twice a year, we gathered that we haven’t traveled alone together in over two decades when he was single and still in medical school. It was QT with my ride or die.

Although I technically rolled right into a family vacation for Thanksgiving, my hiatus is all but over. I’m already having dreams about work. I’m very thankful for this time off, for the big pass Grace gave me, and for the time friends made for me.

I may never play golf again… (until ski season is over, that is).

Lucas’s 9th Birthday Party

We’ve gone guardrail to guardrail on Lucas’s birthday party the last couple years. Two years ago, there were too many kids (for the parents), and last year, there were two few kids (for Lucas). Hopefully, this year was just right.

Lucas requested a Minecraft-themed birthday party, as that is one of his favorite things to do on his device (among too many other things). Our friend Angie from school is a baker extraordinaire and made the Minecraft toppers for the cupcakes. Wow, is she talented.

Kate, as always, planned the rest of the party, including the decorations and activities. The most memorable activity might have been the Mentos-Coke explosion. Poor Grant bore the brunt of the fallout.

This special group of friends had a great time. Lucas is very lucky to have them. Hope you had a great time at your birthday party, Lucas!

Farewell, POPSUGAR

After 11 years, last week I said goodbye to my family and friends at POPSUGAR. I’ve chronicled many of our most memorable moments over the years here, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that leaving a company and people I love so much was very hard indeed. Nevertheless, I received the sweetest low-key sendoff over the last couple days thanks to the ever-thoughtful Krista.

Pizza lunch was fitting and the team printed some of our favorite snapshots from over the years. Somehow, I got roped into the weekly POPCAST, and even though I asked not to be put on the spot, James Lipton’s questions were being fired at me at the end. I was hardly prepared.

Neither was I fully prepared to finally say goodbye. Several friends indulged me in a few last buddy shots (except Brian). It was hard to break the news to my neighborhood friends, too, at Coffee Bar and Henry’s. Even though they fire my slice the minute they see me, I ghosted my friends a Giorgio’s all week. I hope they’ll understand.

11 years ago I joined a team who was already family and they’ll remain as such regardless of the hoodie I wear. Since that time, I’ve had the pleasure of working with hundreds of amazing people, many of whom I consider forever friends whether I see them daily or not. POPSUGAR will always be a huge part of my life.

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???