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!

 

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.

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!

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.

Annual U of M Holiday Dinner in SF

Posse got the ball rolling on our annual holiday party with the Michigan crew. Morgan and Greg graciously invited everyone over to their house in the city. Posse, being the planner, arranged high-class transportation for all the Peninsula couples.

We met at Tam and Ben’s for a little pre-party while the Menlo Park crew we’re on their way north. Our little party bus was beyond expectations, replete with diamond-quilted seating, which is a far-off dream of mine. Now I want one.

We arrived at Morgan and Greg gorgeous home in San Francisco and rolled right into cocktail hour(s). Our holiday parties have alternated between homes and restaurants over the years. One really nice thing about this year was the chance to meaningfully connect with old friends. All of dinner was delicious, but the standout effort was Morgan having the caterer recreate their take on the Pizza House Chipati. It was a stroke of genius.

The highlight of every party is our gift exchange. This year was a little less contentious only because the early pickers had some unfortunate choices that did not warrant a steal. As always, hilarity ensued. Unexpectedly, the gift exchange paused when Guns ‘n Roses came on. Grace and I always get shit for going home with our own presents, but when you buy awesome presents, that’s what happens. Our hostess was only getting started just as the Ubers were summoned to take us back to the suburbs.

Thanks, Posse, for making all the arrangements. Thanks, Thornes, for hosting us all. Thanks, crew, for decades of friendships and laughter. Happy Holidays to all!

U of M Homecoming in Ann Arbor

Jon and Greg have been trying to rally everyone to Homecoming for a few years. This year turned out to be the year (it doesn’t hurt that we finally had a good chance of winning too). Jon may have oversold it a bit with talk of a barn dance, carnival rides, petting zoo, etc. His excuse was that he wasn’t able to build the barn, which I guess is a good one.

On Friday, Fran and Jon hosted everyone at their home. It was awesome to see all of the kids (and adults) together. Pretty much the entire Bay Area crew (Grace and the kids excepted – sad face) made a strong showing.

On Saturday, Jon and Greg hosted everyone at their tailgate. Many more friends rolled in from all over on what turned out to be a glorious Fall football Saturday. Worlds collided as Jen, friends from b-school and even POPSUGAR were there.

Greg graciously hosted me, Buecker and Allard in his seats in the new club level. This was my first football game in the new Big House (I had been inside for the Man U vs. Real Madrid game a couple years ago), and experience was amazing.

Afterwards, we went back to the tailgate and then someone invited everyone over to Greg’s house (but I’m not sure it was Greg). I had a quick dinner with Jen and Kim on Main Street. I walked out of the restaurant and ran into two high school friends, one of whom I coincidentally ran into at the Utah game last year. Shenanigans at Greg’s lasted well into the evening and thankfully nothing was broken despite many high-risk activities.

Sunday turned out to be beautiful and warm, which was perfect for coffee outdoors at Zingermans (where I ran into more friends randomly). I drove around to all my old stomping grounds: where I used to live, work, miss class, get parking tickets, get towed, do the crossword in the Michigan Daily, etc. I made one last stop and had a quick visit with Maggie (a POPSUGAR buddy and her Carhartt-wearing dog, Rupert).

What an amazing weekend with lifelong friends. Thanks again to Fran, Jon and Greg for hosting all of us for a memorable weekend. Next time, Grace, Olivia and Lucas are coming, too!

GO BLUE!

BBB with the Michigan Crew

It’s been a while since we’ve had the whole Michigan crew together so we invited everyone over for a potluck turned Bi-Bim-Bop fest. By everyone, I mean honorary Wolverines, Emily (proud Buckeye) and O’Brien, too. Due to weekend sports, May snow on I-80, etc., we were missing some folks. However, Jin-Hong happened to be in town and joined us as our surprise guest. Charles also texted out-of-the-blue and he joined us as well.

The kids made full use of the house, yard and now sidewalk. A few of the younger ones posed flight risks, which kept some parents busy until we smartened up and closed the gate to the zoo.

It’s only a few weeks until everyone launches into Summer, so I’m glad we could see everyone before they scatter to Switzerland, Tahoe, Aspen and other amazing places I heard on the agendas. We’ll be in CA holding down the fort.