Rhee Family Christmas in Michigan – 2019

Due to my dad settling into a new health care regimen, he wasn’t able to travel to NY for the holidays as we had planned. Although we were just in Michigan for Thanksgiving, Jen, Grace and I decided to return to Michigan to spend the holidays with my parents. I know my mom wanted us to go ahead and see the cousins, but it was important to spend this family time together.

Because we made last minute changes to our flights, we ended up on a redeye from SF to Detroit, leaving shortly after saying our farewell to Elin. In addition to seeing the grandparents and aunt Jen, the kids were also excited to see Blue. They took some turns taking him for walks and to the park. It was the warmest Christmas I can ever recall in Michigan and no one was really complaining about missing a white Christmas.

We didn’t want my mom to feel like she was hosting and feeding us, so we planned a lot of meals out. Christmas Eve dinner was at Eddie V’s. Jen, Grace and mom did spend most of Christmas cooking for dinner at home, which was beautiful. My mom’s bestie, Mia, joined our family for dinner.

Once again, the kids got too much stuff from all the relatives. For this reason, we don’t often get them anything, but what we did get them was purchased pre-owned from Mercari. They were thrilled.

On the 26th, we went downtown for lunch and ate at San Morello, where Melanie and Nick took us in August. We ran into some old friends who were also visiting from the Bay Area. On the way home, I wanted to show the kids where Jen and I lived before moving to West Bloomfield in 1973. We lived on two streets, Margaret and Savannah, between Woodward Ave. and John R. My parents couldn’t remember the exact number or house, which likely didn’t exist anymore as only about 20% of the original houses are still standing in this significantly blighted area. I wanted to give Olivia and Lucas some perspective, not only for where they live, but also for our family’s humble beginnings.

Friday evening, we met up with the Feleses for an evening at Top Golf. It was our first time and a lot of fun. Uncle Nick’s swing is as beautiful as Fred Couples’. Olivia was invited to an impromptu sleepover with Eve and had a lot of fun. Although they rarely see each other, the kids always pick up where they left off.

Saturday, we celebrated my dad’s 84th birthday at Benihana. I’m glad to say he’s doing a lot better than he was when I saw him at Thanksgiving. We’re thankful for all the time the kids were able to spend with them this year and hope they can come visit us in California again, soon.

Thanksgiving 2019

This was a Park Thanksgiving. We decided to all meet in Michigan, as Delaney was already there for college, and the Hur family is in the area. We stayed with my parents, with Jen and Blue. Elin has been staying with us for a couple of months. After some days exploring Austin and New Orleans, she flew up to Detroit to spend the holiday with us.

To avoid the madness of traveling during Thanksgiving, we flew out on Wednesday and returned on Saturday. It was a rainy week, but we spent some time outdoors walking Blue and showing Elin around my home and around U of M.

Grace’s parents don’t keep too much in Ann Arbor, so instead of trying to cook, we ordered in a complete Thanksgiving dinner from Zingerman’s. As you can imaging, it was delicious. On Friday, everyone came over to my parents’ house for dinner and to give Olivia and Lucas more time to spend with Delaney and Cameron.

Dave took Jen’s tickets for the Ohio St. vs. Michigan game, while the rest of us watched the brutality from the comforts of home. The kids love Buddy’s pizza, so we had that for lunch. I spent some time senior- proofing my parents’ house.

We have much for which to be thankful, especially precious time with our parents and family.

Summer Trip to Michigan with Family

Despite some mild objections (from Lucas), the kids would be going to SJC again this summer. Last year, I took them out a few days early to get them adjusted to the time and to spend time at my parents’ house, which they love. This year, we asked my parents if they could spend a week there. Jen also joined in the fun and brought her new puppy, Blue, from NY.

We discussed several options to get them to Michigan that first week. I felt they were old enough to fly unaccompanied, but Lucas did not. We considered having our au pair, Ala, take them, but they declined. In the end, I chaperoned them on their Saturday flight and returned home the next day.

Ala went to travel, so it was very quiet at home with just me and Grace. The kids had fun with Aunt Jen, Grandma, Grandpa, and of course, Blue. Olivia taught him many new tricks. Grace went to Michigan the following Friday. I have been encumbered by employment and opted to take the redeye that evening instead.

Grace’s parents happened to be in town, so we had lunch with most of the Hur clan in Ann Arbor. We spent a little time downtown and also stocked up on Michigan gear at M-Den. We spent the rest of the day getting ready for camp.

The kids only had an extra day after camp to spend in West Bloomfield. I did a little home maintenance (there was more to do). The main mission was for the kids (and us) to spend time with their grandparents, which is too seldom these days. I think my dad’s mission was to show us his new driveway.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for hosting us all.

Addy’s 50th Birthday Celebration in SF

Addy recently celebrated a milestone birthday. While her big celebration was back home in NY, she came out to the Bay Area to celebrate with her old friends here. We were also able to spend some time with her and planned dim sum in the city. Her parents surprised her by flying up and staying with Dave.

Happy 50th Birthday, Addy. We love you.

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.

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!

Bon Voyage, Elin!

This past year was significant for our family, with changes in schools and jobs. The biggest change we had was with our child care, as we had our first au pair. We didn’t exactly know what to expect and the truth is we didn’t know how it would be to have someone living with us.

All those fears were washed away after Elin arrived. She had already spent a year in Australia, so was used to being away. Still, we all had to take some time to adjust to each other, but very quickly, she became part of the family. We explored Disney togetherskied at Beaver Creek (she worked on a ski mountain back home in Sweden), and had an amazing week in Tahoe together.

We exposed her to Korean food and she taught the kids Swedish. Her lovely parents came to visit during Spring Break and we enjoyed spending time with them. As she made friends and found a life of her own in the Bay Area, she was still very present with Olivia and Lucas, and was an amazing care giver and responsibility reminder to them.

Lucas had been having a tough transition while starting 4th grade for a lot of reasons, but in retrospect, the looming departure of Elin must have weighed heavily on him. As October 1st arrived, he couldn’t hide his sadness.

We had one last dinner together at Il Fornaio and exchanged some cards and small gifts at home. At the airport, it was tough for everyone. Lucas was inconsolable there and at home. Besides the passing of Snickers, this was the first real loss the kids had suffered and it was palpable. When I asked Lucas where it hurt, he pointed to his heart.

Elin had matched with a new family on the East Coast, which is where she wanted to explore. I knew this wasn’t goodbye, as we’ll see each other again for sure. I know the kids will always remember the year we spent together with Elin and hopefully they’ll stay in touch. This was an amazing and enriching year for all of us and I’m so thankful we took the leap to hosting an au pair.

Elin, we all miss you very much.

Update: November 25th – We had some company and Lucas was showing the kids his Origami. There was some misunderstanding as they were leaving and he was encouraged to give what they had created for the guest to take home. Afterwards, he was very upset because each of the little pieces he had made with Elin and now they were all gone. We’re going to try to get them back for him. It turns out I’m not the only sentimental one in the family.

Elin’s Birthday

On August 24th, we celebrated Elin’s birthday in San Francisco at Sociale. Now that her time with us is coming to a close, I wish we had more time to experience the Bay Area together. We’re going to miss her!

Happy Birthday, Elin!