One of our favorite traditions with our U of M friends continues. Grace and I hosted our annual holiday dinner and gift exchange. Even though I volunteered to cook the main dish, Grace had to hedge with her own. We ended up preparing dueling beef: prime rib vs. beef tenderloin. There were some issues with the timing and a large flare-up made things exciting. Eyebrows are intact and dinner was served.
Everyone came through on the potluck and delicious appetizers and desserts were enjoyed by all. Despite Krista’s strong objection (two years in a row), the women and men dined separately. It’s unclear what was going on with the ladies, but they were much more boisterous than the civilized conversation we were having about everything that never happened in Las Vegas or New Orleans over the years.
Somehow I got talked into Burt Reynoldsesque pose on the island. I was not the creative director of that shot. No one is going to see it anyway.
Our gift exchange is becoming less savage over the years. Ever since we mixed the nice ladies gifts with the more festive mens gifts, there’s less stealing because everything is either really good or really bad (in an awesome, Nicholas Cage kind of way).
Happy Holidays and GO BLUE!
Jen and my parents came out to California for an extended stay during Thanksgiving. Grace contemplated dining out for Thanksgiving dinner, but Jen, my mom and I had a secret vote to cook our traditional meal.
I intended to cook the turkey on the BGE again this year, but overthought the whole thing and made some big mistakes. First, I saw a friend post about a special recipe and I started watching YouTube videos. The main thing that threw me off course was deciding not to brine the turkey, with which Jen was on board (easier, right?). Because of this, I didn’t take the turkey out until a couple hours before putting it on and realized the inside was still frozen! No worries, everyone said, so we just stuffed it with fruit and aromatics and left it out. Grace mentioned that one of the reasons she brines is to defrost the turkey. Noted.
Next, I decided to get too technical with my temperature probe and put it at the level of the plate setter. Obviously the grill is a lot hotter there than at the dome thermometer. At times there was a 100 degree difference, which caused a lot of confusion. Attempting to keep the temp low, I went by the grill level and that caused the turkey to cook a lot more slowly than I wanted. Dinner was now late, which was always my biggest fear.
We took the bird off at some point and using three different thermometers, we got three very different readings. One thing was clear was that the inside needed to cook more, so I put it backed on and cranked up the heat. We were going sideways at best. Finally, everyone said it must be done, so we took it off, let it rest for a bit and started carving. The inside was still pink! We ended up carving a bit and putting the white meat in the toaster oven and the dark meat in the regular oven to finish.
What. A. Disaster. Well, it all worked out and everyone ate plenty. I learned many lessons and hope I can redeem myself next time.
Most importantly, we had a great visit with Aunt Jen and Michigan Grandma and Grandpa. That’s more than enough for which to be Thankful. Happy Thanksgiving!
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.
Olivia played AYSO soccer again this year. They changed the age cutoffs, which are now by calendar year. Because her birthday is December 30th, she was likely the youngest girl in U14 and ended up on a team with mostly 7th and 8th grader. She was the only 6th grader on the team.
Her coaches and teammates on Team Pink were amazing this year. Playing up really built her confidence. She spent some time in goal early in the season, which was stressful for all of us. Thankfully, her team was on offense most of the time, going undefeated for the first half of the season.
Despite playing a lot of offense, Olivia did not score a goal during the regular season. She had some close calls. However, her team made the league championship game, and down 1-0, Olivia finally scored to tie up the game. Needless to say, we went crazy for her (coaches included).
Although they ended up losing that game, it was still a great ending to her best season yet. She made many new friends, most of whom attend her school. It even inspired her to try out for club, which she’ll be starting in the new year.
It’s hard to believe Lucas is now double digits. We celebrated on his actual birthday with dinner at Benihana with the Lees. This is an odd turn of events, as Lucas used to really dislike any outing to Benihana, but now it is on his short list.
Afterwards at home, we opened gifts from all of his generous grandparents, aunts and uncles. He’s been asking for Lazer Chess all year long and I told him to put it on his list. He was so happy. Aunt Jen got him his annual big Lego project, which he will wait to do with her during Christmas. I’m secretly really jealous of all of his Legos.
Ellie had her birthday party on Saturday, and on Sunday, pretty much the same crew came over to celebrate with Lucas for his party. He is really into “Keeper of the Lost Cities,” so Kate helped plan his usual themed birthday party and activities. He has a wonderful group of friends from school and old family friends.
Happy 10th Birthday, Lucas! We love you.
Jen, Ed and I met up in Vegas for our annual trip. Grace and Prem both came in for one night, which is plenty of time for trouble. We missed Jea, who was at Nationals with her tennis team (woo hoo).
Ed and I played Paiute two days (Wolf and Sun Mountain). The weather was beautiful and we had a great time. We tried some new places to eat (Mastro’s was a bust) as well as visited our tried and true. I might have stayed 3 hours (or 3 days) too long.
Until next time…
This was Lucas’s first Walkfest participating solo. Olivia was there with her fellow alumni for moral support. He earned his gold with about 45 seconds to spare. Great job, buddy!
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.