Skiing in Tahoe with The Moons

Clara and Mike invited us up to Tahoe for the long weekend. This was our first trip to their new home during the winter. Everyone was excited about the five feet of snow they got the week before, but it was very warm on our first day of skiing with very soft conditions.

On Sunday, it was raining hard all day at the house, but you could see it blowing hard up on the mountain. We ventured out around 1pm to make the most of it and once we were above the snow line, it was pretty good. The great news was that snow lasted all night long and we woke up Monday to fresh and dry powder.

We weren’t quite first chair, but got out very early for our crew. It was one of the best days I can remember in Tahoe and we took advantage to explore some of the glades. We got a little low, skiing right around along the boundary at Northstar. Eventually we made it out and Mike had to scoot with his board on his front side because the snow was so deep.

The kids rode the chair by themselves most of the time, so it seems like they’re pretty close to being able to go off on their own (it’s the adults who lead them into uncharted territory). The drive home was horrific, but we didn’t let that ruin our great weekend together with the Moons. Looking forward to self driving cars!

Skiing in Deer Valley Over New Year

We’re always looking for new places to ski with the family. Although I’ve been to Utah a bunch with friends, Grace nor the kids have been there for skiing. We looked at a lot of options for our 2nd week of the holiday break. Coincidentally, Ann and Jeremy were going to be in Deer Valley and invited us to crash with them.

This was fortuitous on an epic scale because they were staying at the Montage. I’ve only had lunch there before with my WB buddies and fell in love with it the minute I stepped inside. I never expected to ever stay there, but we were beneficiaries of Ann and Jeremy, who were beneficiaries of another friend whose plans changed. That left available a beautiful 3 bedroom unit, the kind of which makes you not want to return home.

Sunday, the day we arrived, was Olivia’s birthday, so we wanted to celebrate somewhere. Our plans were last minute and the only place I could find was the Seafood Buffet at Deer Valley. If I had a better memory, I would have remembered that while the food was good, the ambiance was a little lacking for the price of admission. Next time I will not forget. Most importantly, we celebrated Olivia’s milestone with friends and she was happy.

Monday, we skied at Park City because the Ikon passes I got at the last minute were blacked out that day at Deer Valley. It was a cold but great day on the mountain. I hadn’t skied there in forever. Starting Tuesday, we got into our ski-in/ski-out routine at Deer Valley, which was a lot easier. The snow was infinitely better than the start of the season last year, though coverage was still a little thin in areas. We definitely made the most of it.

The Champions Club at the Stein Eriksen was one of the best finds on this trip. While the food is not as epic as the buffet upstairs, every game in the arcade is free. I guess they’re making it up in pizza. We spent New Year’s Eve in the room and had room service for dinner, which was fine with everyone. We had some so-so dinners in town, though Riverhorse on Main was notably excellent again. Some of our best meals were at the Japanese restaurant in the hotel (two nights in a row).

All the kids were great sports all week and we had fun skiing with Emme and Elsen. The little and big kids enjoyed an après ski of tubing and hot cider. The kids added rolling around in the snow between the pool and hot tub to their routine. I didn’t allow myself to get roped into that, but Jeremy joined right in.

We didn’t venture down to the bowling alley until right before we left. Otherwise we might have had some high scores by the end of our awesome week together. It all went by so fast, but we’re so thankful for being able to finally travel with their family, especially after our Airstream caravan got aborted a couple years ago. Until next time!

Olivia’s 12th Birthday

December 30th was Olivia’s 12th birthday. We were only home for about a day between our holiday travel. We opened her cards and gifts from her generous family before heading out. I think her favorite card was from Lucas.

Happy Birthday, Olivia!

Christmas with Parks in OC and LA

It was a Park Christmas this year. Addy and Charles came out from NY. Amy and Arnold were also visiting their Park family, so we had a Park+Park Christmas down in Laguna Niguel.

We drove down on Saturday and it was (if I can remember the pain) the last time we will ever drive to SoCal for a holiday. It took 11 hours with stops. On Sunday, I played golf at Pelican Hill with Arnold and Charles. I’ve spent some time in the OC before, but not really like that. I was car-spotting the whole time, not just there, but also at the mall. It’s insane.

Ala joined us for the first half of the week. We had dinner with Grace’s parents one night in Laguna Beach and Ala and I tried Uni for the first time. We had dinner at Mastro’s in Newport another night and Ala had her first oyster. We had great weather the whole time.

On the way up to LA, we met up with Phoebe and Oliver at their hotel for a bit. Linda was out with her mom, so we just missed them. I think Elliott was tweeting somewhere else at the hotel.

We of course had to stop in Manhattan Beach for lunch at Rock’n Fish, a photo on the pier, and treats at the Creamery. That night, we met up with Ana and Bobby and Jea and Eddie, who were all coincidentally visiting their families. Eddie, Bobby and I made the most of this coincidence and played golf the next day.

On Thursday evening, we celebrated Olivia’s birthday early at The Grove. The next day, we had lunch with everyone at Chosun Galbee to celebrate her dad’s birthday early, too. We got on the road in the early afternoon and were home by about 8pm.

9th Annual U of M Holiday Party

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!

 

Thanksgiving 2018 with The Rhees

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!

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.

Olivia’s Team Pink Soccer Season

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.

Go Olivia!

Lucas’s 10th Birthday Celebrations

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.