Thanksgiving 2017 in Orlando with the Parks

We spent only our second destination Thanksgiving in Orlando, FL last week. Coincidentally, the first was with the Rhees in Miami Beach, FL five years ago. Our family and Elin went down a little early to spend a few days at Universal Studios. We stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel, which was very close to the park.

The kids were most excited about Harry Potter, even though we already enjoyed the lite version in Hollywood over Spring Break. Orlando’s Diagon Alley did not disappoint. The weather was amazing the day we went. Our family lost steam around dinner time. We had dinner at Citywalk before heading back to the hotel. Elin, however, wanted to hit every ride and got most of them in by riding until closing time.

The next day, it was raining, but we still went to the pool anyway. It would have helped a bit if it was warmer, but the kids didn’t seem to mind too much. After swimming, we made a game time call to see Wonder. Afterwards, we had dinner across the street at The Portofino.

The third day we just had breakfast and packed up to move over to Disney. We went over to the Hilton next door to use their pool, which had a lazy river and a slide. Addy, Charles, the kids, and Dave all arrived and met us there. We tried to have dinner at Disney Springs with no reservation, but ended up just eating back at the hotel lobby.

On Thanksgiving, my plans to eat nothing until dinner was thwarted by a nice lunch at Eddie V’s. We hit the pool at our hotel in the afternoon, which had less amenities but was at least heated. We had Thanksgiving dinner at the hotel restaurant, which is not our style, but still a lot easier for those who usually cook and or clean. Our main motivation for visiting Orlando was to see Grace’s mom’s brother, Ben, who lives there. We were happy that he joined us for our family dinner. This was Elin’s first American Thanksgiving, which she hopefully enjoyed.

Black Friday was spent at Disney World. It was my first visit there since 1980, which was before Epcot was even built. We planned this part of the trip terribly, as we just bought our tickets and had virtually no fast passes reserved among our big group. Our plan to mitigate this was to catch the first shuttle to the Disney, which meant a pre-dawn wakeup.

The main attraction Charles wanted to ride was the new Avatar-themed Pandora attraction. We didn’t exactly elbow our way into the park or run to the ride. By the time we were in line, it was already a 3-hour wait. Oof. Thankfully, everyone was patient (including the Grandparents). I don’t do well on these 4D rides. It was pretty amazing, but I’m still queasy. The kids and Elin loved it. We took it a little easier in the Animal Kingdom and did some Safari ride. Because the damage was done, even the Dinosaur ride was painful to me. We did actually have 3pm fast passes for Pandora, so Elin, Addy, Olivia, Lucas and Cameron rode it again.

We all headed over to Epcot for dinner. It was my first visit there. We then rode the monorail back to the transit center. Olivia, Lucas and Grace’s parents were done at this point, so I took them back to the hotel. The rest of the group headed over to the Magic Kingdom to check it out and watch the grand finale. Everyone was impressed.

On our last full day together, we finally made it into Morimoto Asia for lunch. Afterwards, half the group went back to Disney World for another day and night at the park. Elin had a Fast Pass at 11:30pm at Space Mountain and didn’t make it home until late. The kids, Grace, Dave, Grace’s Dad and I went to the pool for a bit. We were back at Disney Springs for a healthy meal of fried everything at Art Smith’s.

Sunday, we packed up, and headed out of Disney for the last time. What we didn’t know was that our flight was going to be delayed about 4 hours, which made for a long rest at the Orlando airport. The one good thing about it was running into my long lost b-school buddy, Ted, who was on his way back to Austin.

As always, we have so much for which to be thankful and now this amazing trip  with family is also on the list.

Spring Break 2017 in Los Angeles

After a lot of skiing this winter, we decided to road trip to Los Angeles for spring break. The main motivation was because Grace was convinced her mom was turning 75 and wanted to have a surprise party for her. Then Addy and Charles changed their plans to meet us in LA, and Dave came down, too.

We drove down on Saturday and stayed in Westwood. We were going to go to Santa Monica, but decided to go to Century City for dinner instead. While there, we decided to see a movie. The nice thing about taking your kids to a 9:30pm movie is that no other parents bring their kids to a 9:30pm movie. I stayed awake for all of Boss Baby. They loved it.

When Grace was planning her mom’s dinner, she mentioned it was going to be on April 9th. Ummm, that’s our anniversary… No matter – it’s her 75th! We celebrated our anniversary at lunch instead with the kids at Bouchon. Lucas was very leery of French food, but found the donuts to his liking. We did some shopping for Grace’s mom in the afternoon.

The kids wanted to visit with Emme and Elsen before dinner even though we didn’t have much time. I took the opportunity to catch up very briefly with my long lost friend from home, Joanne, who also lives in Santa Monica. Our visit was too short, but still long overdue. So great to see her and meet her sons.

Sometime before all the family arrived at the restaurant for Grace’s mom’s surprise, we determined that it was actually her 76th birthday. Surprise! She deserved a big party anyway, so it was all good. Awesome to see all the Park cousins.

On Monday, we met up with the family at République in Los Angeles. It is a beautiful building, which used to be Charlie Chaplin’s estate. When I got there, I looked up and saw someone familiar. My instinct was to say hello and his instinct was to say hello back. It was Henry Winkler. Who is more familiar than the Fonz? That was one of the highlights of my trip year.

Grace went with her mom and sister to the spa, so I took the kids to the Grove to get out of the house (i.e., off their devices). We went to a real book store, which had real books (each kid got 2). We had more donuts, ice cream, and people-watching. Afterwards, we went to Slurpin’ Ramen Bar to celebrate Dave’s birthday a little early.

On Tuesday, we went to Universal Studios, which was the 2nd big reason for our LA spring break: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Ann and Emme joined us (Elsen had no idea what he was missing). The kids have been wanting to do this for a while and were so excited. I had no idea about the rides, but we all (adults) got so wrecked by the Forbidden Journey. I took more than one for the team and rode that one twice (worse the 2nd time because it broke down the first time and I didn’t have to suffer through Quidditch). By the time we got on the Minions ride, I learned to just keep my eyes closed the entire time. I’m still sick.

Everyone enjoyed the studio tour. Seeing animatronic Jaws made the kids feel a little better about sharks after I screened Jaws for them a few weeks ago. We were all traumatized by it when we were kids; I didn’t see why they shouldn’t be, too.

Wednesday was a very routine beach day in Manhattan Beach. By routine, I mean lunch at Rock’n Fish, beach, Starbuck’s, and the Creamery. Every. Single. Time. That evening we had dinner with Ann and Jeremy at Katsuya in Brentwood.

Thursday, we had lunch with Grace’s parents in Westwood after I upgraded them from 0 MB DSL service, which was killing me, but was the only thing instilling grit in the kids on this trip. We walked to the other end of Westwood and back and then loaded up the car to drive home.

My spring break officially started on Friday with the first round of golf in a long while with Charles and Albert in Half Moon Bay. We spend the rest of the weekend with Addy and Charles, who left early on Sunday. Our nice break ended with Easter brunch at the Crowthers’ and dinner with Jeanah and Christine at our house.

Olivia’s 10th Birthday Celebration at Hakkasan in NYC

On Thursday, December 29th, we had one last family gathering in NYC to celebrate Olivia’s 10th birthday. She and the rest of the family had been to Hakkasan before with Dave’s boss and she really enjoyed their macarons, so she requested that restaurant. This was my first time eating at any Hakkasan and the food was great.

What a special occasion to spend our last night in New York before heading home. We can’t believe Olivia is double-digits. Happy Birthday to our beloved Olivia!

Dad Park’s 80th Birthday Celebration in NYC

Because all of the family were together for the holidays, Grace’s Mom wanted to celebrate her Dad’s 80th a little early. On Monday, December 26th, several close friends and family met at Gaonnuri. Dave and Charles emceed the event and several people spoke, including Mom and Dad.

It was a beautiful event to celebrate Dad’s 80th and the food was excellent. Everyone had a great time. Happy Birthday, Dad!

Christmas at Addy and Charles’s House in Rye, NY

This was a Park Christmas, and critical mass is now on the East Coast. Addy and Charles invited us to stay at their home in Rye for Christmas. We got in pretty late on Friday from Denver and didn’t anticipate the fiasco of La Guardia as neither of us have flown in there in a decade or two. We’re just thankful we made it safely with all our things.

On Christmas Eve Day, Ellie and Sandor invited all the Haus + Rhees over to their place for lunch. All the cousins had fun playing together (until they didn’t – Lucas!). Olivia’s main objective was to get in some Baby Lily QT – mission accomplished!

Grace’s parents arrived so we all spent Christmas Eve together at home in Rye. The kids opened their Christmas presents and were able to play outdoors on an unseasonably warm Christmas Day. Cousin Nick and his family came down from Maryland and joined us for Christmas dinner.

We had a chill day at home the day after Christmas. Ellie and Sandor popped over from Greenwich to check out the NY suburbs. That evening, we went into NYC to celebrate Grace’s dad’s 80th. Cousin Jea and Minwha came in from Connecticut and stayed the night.

Thanks, Addy and Charles, for hosting us! We had an awesome family holiday together.

 

Spring Break in Southern California

We decided to drive down to Southern California for spring break. We had no firm plans or agenda for the week and departed Burlingame right after having an Easter Sunday brunch at Il Fornaio.

It also happened to be our birthdays, so Grace planned one-night’s stay in Westwood. We’ve stayed at the W many times, but it’s getting a little long in the tooth. One convenience was that our birthday dinner was at STK in the hotel. Grace’s parents joined us and also brought cake and fruit, which we enjoyed together in the room.

On Monday, we had a leisurely morning and walked over to Le Pain Quotidien. Later, we had lunch with Grace’s parents, followed by some IT troubleshooting at their Westwood house. It was a beautiful and productive day with her family.

We stopped at Manhattan Beach on our way down to Laguna Niguel. It was crazy windy, so we only spent a few minutes on the beach before making an important stop at the MB Creamery (always). After settling into the Laguna Niguel house, we had a nice dinner in Laguna Beach, where we had lunch for Olivia’s 7th birthday.

Olivia’s 9th Birthday Dinner with Family

We had all of our families together at our house for Olivia’s 9th birthday. It was a relaxing day at home with the kids’s cousins, aunts and uncles and all their grandparents. Hopefully she’ll remember these special family times together.

Happy Birthday, Olivia! You’re still the sweetest and we love you so much. Here’s to your last single-digit birthday (sniff).

Thanksgiving in Rye

Addy and Charles moved to Rye in Westchester County this past Summer and have been settling into their new home. We no longer have a critical mass in California, as all our siblings now live in NY. They were kind enough to host both the Parks and the Rhees for Thanksgiving last week.

Lucas and Olivia have been especially missing Cameron and Delaney and were so excited to see them. There were many fun things to explore on the property, not the least of which were the trampoline and a pre-historic rock, which I understand took the better part of a year to demolish. The new house is beautiful.

I left the house one time in the several days we were there. We all stayed on California time, so there was a lot of sleeping and napping at odd hours. The one time we did leave, we went to White Plains to see a movie and Mamaroneck to pick up a pizza. Other than that, I didn’t get to explore the area much, especially Rye proper. Next time!

We had a great Thanksgiving together with all the families. Thanks, Addy and Charles, for being such great and gracious hosts. There’s discussion of a destination Thanksgiving next year.

4th Annual Hur Family Reunion

We’ve been traveling home to Michigan the past few years for a mix of activities, including a family reunion with Grace’s mom’s side of the family. This year, Grace jumped the gun and bought our tickets, but they happened to be for a week that didn’t coincide with other planned activites. We decided to perhaps skip Michigan this year.

It turned out that Grace was also having her high school reunion and her aunt’s 80th birthday party, so we decided to come afterall. Her cousin, Youngjoo, and Il graceciously hosted all of us again for her mom’s party. Not all the cousins could make it, but we still had a great turnout, including Addy and Charles, who came from their new home in New York.

Olivia and Lucas both caught their first fish (Lucas snagged his), and I caught my first fish in almost 20 years. The kids enjoyed a couple days on the lake, tubing, swimming and wave running. We also celebrated Charles’s and Grace’s uncle’s birthday the 2nd day.

Thanks, Kims, for all your hospitality and another great reunion.

Addy and Charles’s Going Away BBQ

Addy, Charles, Delaney and Cameron are heading east in just about a month. We’ve been lucky to have them back in the bay area all these years, but NY is calling them. Grace’s parents were in town for the week to help out with the kids and Dave was in town, too. All of us joined neighbors and friends at Addy and Charles’s house for a going away BBQ.

We’re all going to miss having them nearby, especially Olivia and Lucas, who are already missing their cousins.