4th of July in Tahoe with Moons

You know things are getting back to normal when we’re in Tahoe with the Moons for 4th of July. We had intentions of setting out early on Friday morning, but didn’t quite make it. It didn’t seem to make much difference because traffic was bad.

For as many times as we’ve passed Ikeda’s on the way up, Grace has never been. The kids and I stopped on our first Airstream trip, but they don’t really remember. We had a good stop for lunch and groceries.

When we’re at home, the kids spend most of their waking hours gaming with the Moon boys online. In Tahoe, it was the same, but in person. Just kidding – they spent time playing chess, ping pong and a little time outdoors, too.

Our biggest excursion was tubing down the Truckee river. We have done it in the past with rafting operators, but Mike had the gear for DIY tubing thanks to a pickup from Clara and Grace at the end. Speaking of pickups, Mike’s Ohio roots are starting to show with his new Ram truck! Grace has been informed that we’re getting a Raptor so we can duel.

My tube started to deflate on the first leg, which was exciting. I also spent the first leg of the trip Googling “Is the iPhone 11 waterproof?,” but I never had enough signal. It turns out it is! The kids worked well together to keep us out of danger. We ran into a couple friends on the river, which was a pleasant surprise.

Saturday evening, we couldn’t convince Clara and Grace to head to the barn to see Wonder Bread 5, but Mike and I wouldn’t miss it. Sunday was pretty chill as we celebrated America’s birthday. Olivia caught a fish (they’re not smart this early in the season).

We were able to squeeze in a little Thando baseball after dinner before getting in the car to return home. We were talking in the car about how we never really make it a point to see fireworks on the 4th and we’re often driving back from festivities at that time. This time, we saw ALL the fireworks on the way home, which really didn’t end as we arrived before midnight.

Thanks to the Moons for hosting us again in Tahoe. It’s always beautiful and relaxing. The kids (and adults) have been having fun together since birth and I hope they never outgrow their special friendship.

Visiting Mom and Dad for Father’s Day

I went to visit my mom and dad for the first time since the pandemic this past weekend. I was glad to be able to spend Father’s Day together, which we don’t often get to do. It’s a relief that they are hanging in there. Big shout out to my sister Jen, who had spent the better part of the past eight months in Michigan helping to care for them (or was my mom caring for Blue?). We’ll finally all be together again in a month. 

Mother’s Day in SF with the Moons

Last year, the pandemic interrupted our tradition of spending Mother’s Day with the Moons. This year, with things getting back to normal, we met in San Francisco for brunch at Barcha. The weather was perfect for dining outdoors and the food was excellent.

It was determined that Beard Papa was too far, but we decided to check out a beautiful urban park on top of the new Transbay Terminal – thanks, Salesforce! Grace and Mike are both getting into plants and trees, so they were geeking out on everything along the loop. The kids explored and caught up and a couple hours flew by.

We grabbed one last drink on Market Street before bidding farewell. Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of them and everyone we love more this summer and beyond.

It was a wonderful family excursion to celebrate Clara and Grace. Cheers to these great moms and also to keeping traditions alive.

Spring Break in LA and Palm Desert

Grace’s parents have thankfully been fully vaccinated, so we planned our spring break around seeing them and also celebrating her mom’s 80th birthday. Dave planned to come out and join us. At the last minute, Addy decided to join us as well. Bummer that Charles and their kids couldn’t make the family gathering complete.

Grace got lucky with her first vaccine shot a few weeks ago, but that put her second shot in the middle of break, which couldn’t be changed. She also hauled to Sacramento to get it, so that meant a 2 day delay and 3 hour diversion on our drive down to LA, which was a problem worth having.

Grace hemmed and hawed (never does that) on where to stay. Ultimately she picked West Hollywood to stay at a hotel she enjoyed in London. It was nice and quiet, but a little out of the way and not really walking (for me).

Chosun Galbee isn’t open on Mondays, so we went to some other place, which was fine. Benjamins were distributed by grandpa. Tuesday, Addy was flying in, and she had never been to Manhattan Beach, so we all met up there for lunch. The weather wasn’t the greatest, but it’s always nice to visit.

We had dinner at Ann and Jeremy’s. Grace and I have watched Queens Gambit three times and the kids twice. They are obsessed with chess, which seems like a much better use of device time, so it is usually allowed. Lucas is improving against Jeremy in their matches and can hopefully make a strong showing in a visit or two. I’m 0 for 2 against Olivia already.

Wednesday was moving day, so we took advantage of the empty roof-top pool. Our teenager wasn’t interested and Lucas asked me to join him. It was warm enough, but once the sun was hidden for the foreseeable future, it was time to go. We did get to have Chosun Galbee for lunch on our way out of town.

Our family road trip was to Palm Desert. I haven’t been to Palm Springs in almost 30 years and I don’t think anyone else has been there recently either. The weather was a little dodgy when we arrived, but it cleared up nicely for a couple days of golf and pool. Grace played 18 holes for the first time in forever and held up great.

The resort was nice enough, but was a little too big. I believe it peaked in 1983 and was a little understaffed for the number of guests. The food there was great and we had some meals in town, including Grace’s mom’s birthday dinner.

We had ambitions of going to Joshua Tree, but it turned out to be more effort than was wanting to be expended. I saw a lot of people posting from there the week before and the same week. Grace’s parents, Addy and Dave stopped there on the way back to LA and we headed straight home after our last brunch together. We’ll have to come back to check it out.

Happy to be spending quality time with family again. Can’t wait to see my family next.

Birthday Weekend in Lake Tahoe

Even though we’re still in pandemic mode, Grace planned a weekend away for our birthdays, which was in stark contrast to our last birthday at home. The kids were remote for school last week, so we went up on Wednesday night and they attended school from the room. I got in a few runs in the morning before work and meetings. It was nice that I had pretty much the mountain to myself and was the first one down on Drifter towards the backside at Northstar. At the end of the day, we rode the gondola down to the village, which was quiet and mostly closed.

On Friday, the kids and I skied together. We met Grace for lunch back at the hotel, which was the first of several meals at the only restaurant. On Saturday, Grace joined us on the slopes for the first time, which was huge given all she’s been through this past year. She did great and said she was feeling fine. She didn’t push too hard and went back after lunch.

Clara decided to come up and visited us for a bit before dinner, which was so nice of her. It was good to catch up some more after seeing all the Moons briefly while we were in Napa. Thanks to her for one of our few family photos during the trip (year).

We celebrated Grace’s birthday (and mine) at dinner, which was excellent. Together, we’re 100! This also means I have one year to plan for her milestone next year. I don’t know if we can top her 40th, so we have to set expectations low.

On Sunday, Olivia went to ski with some friends from school in the morning, so Lucas and I went out alone. We had planned to stay until Monday morning, but the kids were anxious about homework and getting to school. We packed up and made it home by dinner time.

It was a relaxing and beautiful weekend up in Tahoe, which was our first in over a year. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky for 3 days and the snow held up nicely in spring conditions. It was awesome to ski with Grace. I think this is as good as birthdays get, as long as we’re all together having fun.

Long Weekend at Carneros Resort in Napa

A month or so ago, Albert was telling me that we were going to Carneros Resort together in March. I guess I’m always the last to know. It is one of my favorite places in Northern California and I think I did say that I would love to visit more often. Going there is the vacation equivalent of camping in your backyard, if your backyard was the most beautiful backyard ever. Also, it’s ski season. WTH?

The Lees had to come up a day later than planned, but this was a third night free type of situation, so we enjoyed our free third night anyway. Friday was supposed to be work and school, but somehow the kids got out of school and I didn’t get out of work. It was fine.

We haven’t seen the Moons since right before the pandemic when we were at their place for ski week. They braved the drive and us crazy pre-spring-breakers to come hang out for the afternoon and dinner. Our kids have been hanging out a lot online, but there’s nothing like spending time IRL. It was so nice to see everyone.

Because Carneros is also one of my favorite places to take pictures, I decided it was a good reason to end my Leica experiment and go all in on a new (used) SL2-S. They were making me go, after all. I won’t go into it much except to say it is low-light sorcery and I could not love shooting it more, even after just a few days.

It is technically winter, but the kids didn’t care and went swimming anyway. Despite having their own pool, the Lee kids think this was their first time swimming since we were last here in July. Thankfully they’ve outgrown the kiddie pool because Albert and I are convinced it is 80% full of pee. Also, it isn’t a real Rhee+Lee vacation unless a Lee kid shows up with a cast.

Saturday night dipped down into snow temperatures, which made it too cold to eat outside. We ordered in instead, which was just fine. The kids roasted fancy marshmallows on a Duraflame. It was weird.

Sunday was daylight savings and half our crew slept in right until brunch. We had one last meal before saying our goodbyes and heading home. Olivia said she wanted to get home to do homework, but I hear her cackling with her friends online playing games.

It was a short but welcome getaway. If we don’t come up with a plan A, we’ll be back there for Memorial Day weekend. I won’t say no.

Lunch at Waterbar in SF

It’s been ages since we had a family excursion to San Francisco – definitely not during the pandemic. We made an impromptu outing on Saturday to the Embarcadero and had a really nice meal at Waterbar. It was a beautiful day for a walk and lunch outside.

2021 Ski Week in Park City, UT

Not seeing family and friends and limited travel were probably the toughest parts of the past year. Our RV trip last summer was just what we needed at the time. We still weren’t ready to board a plane, so ski week was limited to destinations within driving distance. We stopped in Park City on the way to Yellowstone and it was very manageable, even though we did it in two stretches. Tahoe seemed too close and Colorado seemed too far, so Park City it was.

Normally, we pack the morning of or departure, but we planned to leave around 6am, so the car and skis were packed and ready to go the night before. Luna didn’t knew what was happening and didn’t want us to leave. It really wasn’t too bad and I didn’t hear one complaint during the 13-hour ride. The kids also experienced their first KFC, which received a thumbs up (though not Chick-Fil-A level).

Ann and Jeremy’s kids also had the week off, so they invited us to stay with them at their new home in Utah. We weren’t their first guests, but there are so many rooms, we got to choose one that hadn’t yet been occupied. We skied our first day at Canyons/Park City and then two days at Deer Valley, which is their home mountain.

Jea and Eddie also came out for the week, so we all met up for dinner, as we had last year for Olivia’s Birthday in Beaver Creek. We also enjoyed some great dinners at home.  The kids ventured out to sled in their back yard, which is a golf course in the summer. We’ll have to go back to check that out.

Emma and her friend, Natalie, joined the party at the same time we moved over to a hotel in town mid-week. We skied Park City and Canyons the rest of the week. We celebrated Natalie’s birthday at 350 Main, which was quiet and very manageable. The next night, we went to Tekila, which was a little closer to Señor Frog’s during spring break. Grace was double-masked.

The rest of the family voted to leave on Saturday to have a full day at home on Sunday. Friday was our last day of skiing. We were able to say a quick hello to Teresa and the twins. Unfortunately, we never connected with Ulrik, who kindly texted me every morning to search for powder without the kids (it snowed over 3 feet while we were there). We had one last dinner with Ann, Jeremy, Emme and Elsen before packing up and heading out at 7am the next morning.

The weather was a little clearer on the way home. We stopped for a late lunch in Truckee before getting stuck in Sacramento traffic. 14 hours later we arrived home to Luna, who missed us, but was kept company (and alive) by Romana.

Honestly, skiing during COVID-19 wasn’t too bad. Everyone wears masks. We tested before and after the trip and thankfully we were negative. Looking forward to getting a few more days in this season and hopefully things will be more back to normal next winter.

Lastly, after 170,000 photos, Olivia and Lucas are starting to tire of taking pictures. They are now inclined to oblige me by swapping smiles. I’ll take what I can get.

Olivia’s 14th Birthday

Like most of us who have had to celebrate our birthdays during the pandemic, Olivia took it in stride and actually enjoyed being at home and relaxing. Usually we’re traveling, or worse, en route on her birthday.

She hasn’t been out of the house in days, so we took a quick trip downtown for Salt & Straw. We celebrated with our pandemic pod family, the Lees, for dinner. Olivia, being very patient, didn’t open any gifts until almost 10pm. She’s very appreciative of all of her thoughtful family and friends.

Happy Birthday, Olivia! We couldn’t love you and your kind spirit more.

Christmas 2020

Like most families, we were separated from our loved ones due to COVID-19. It’s been a year since we have seen any family except Grace’s parents in August. That didn’t stop Olivia and Lucas’s grandparents, aunts and uncles from sending them many generous and thoughtful gifts. Santa somehow knew what was on their lists, too.

Grace and Romana cooked a feast that was too much for the five of us. We’re still working on finishing it. Everything was delicious.

Hopefully our next holidays will be more back to normal. Until then, stay safe, everyone. Merry Christmas!