Olivia’s 16th Birthday

We celebrated this sweet 16th year old at home this year, which is rare as we’re usually traveling somewhere. It’s hard to imagine that Olivia would need anything just a few days after Christmas, but her generous family always sends  her such thoughtful gifts. It was extra special to have my mom, aunt Jen and Blue here to celebrate together.

We braved the rain and took everyone to Che Fico in San Francisco. I thought it was even better than the first time and every dish was amazing. While not a big party with her friends, we hope she enjoyed spending the day with her family who loves her very much.

Happy 16th Birthday, Olivia!

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Beaver Creek with Grandma and Aunt Jen

The kids got out of school early this year, so we decided to go on our annual ski trip before the holidays. Even though they weren’t going to ski, we asked my mom and Jen (and Blue) to join us to experience mountain life for a week. To keep things familiar, we went back to Beaver Creek, though we stayed at a different hotel for the first time.

After all flying into Denver, we drove up to the mountains together. Things went a lot more smoothly with our flights and bags compared to last year, so we had that going for us. The snow was also the best it has been for us this early in the season, so we were also thankful for that.

Even though we took mom and Jen to some of our favorite places, we tried some new ones together, too. We took a one-day excursion to Vail, which really meant a couple of runs and lunch. The weather most of the week was pretty good. Some bluebird days, some new snow, and some bomb cyclone wind and snow.

All-in-all, it was a fun Rhee family trip, despite the 7-hour delay getting home from Denver. We all flew back to SF to spend the rest of the holiday together. Everyone was super excited to see Luna, except maybe Blue.

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Thanksgiving in NY – 2022

Last year, we attempted to spend the Christmas holiday in NYC and Rye, but we abandoned our plans midway through the week. Things are thankfully different this year, so our Park Thanksgiving was again planned for Addy and Charles’s house. 

Like last year, we spent the front end of our trip in Manhattan. We didn’t have any firm plans, except to see family and friends. Our first night, we saw a big group of summer camp friends in Koreatown. Liv was especially excited to see her cousin, Sara, who stayed with us for a night at the hotel. Thanks, Liz and Clarence for a great dinner!

It was bitterly cold those first few days. Addy and Charles came into the city for lunch at Quality Italian, which is always a must on our NY trip. We also got to see Jeanah for ramen. It was a long way to come see a movie, but Wakanda Forever was worth the trip.

One of the things I wanted to see was the 9/11 Memorial. I haven’t been down there in almost 20 years. Olivia and Lucas weren’t alive then, so I can appreciate that they don’t have the context of remembering it as we do. Still, it sparked a lot of conversation. I think it’s something I need to go see again alone and when it’s less crowded.

We met Grace’s parents and family for soup dumplings on Monday after they arrived. Afterwards, we walked over to Times Square, as Olivia really wanted to see it. We ended our last night in Manhattan with dessert at the hotel.

Tuesday, we headed out to Addy and Charles’s house in Rye. We haven’t all been there for a holiday since 2016, though Grace and the kids have visited more recently. It was mostly quiet time before Thanksgiving.

The Parks were kind to also include the Rhees (mom, Jen and Blue) for Thanksgiving. It was nice for all of us to be together again. I love Thanksgiving dinner and this one was prepared to perfection. Thanks to all the cooks! Sandor was hosting 30+ nearby and was also kind to invite all of us over for dessert for long overdue meeting of the clans.

On Friday, Ana and Bobby brought the family from Ridgewood to Rye to meet up for brunch. This was our first time meeting baby Courtney. She is such a cutie!

On Saturday, Jen hosted a big crew for the U of M vs. OSU game. Big props to Sandor for bringing the boys dressed for the occasion. They have much more spirit than Olivia and Lucas. Jen was dismayed that our flight time conflicted with the game. We missed the last two Donovan Edwards TDs just as we were getting into our car. Is it bad that we’re most thankful for this win?!?

Thanks again to everyone who hosted us this trip. It was really great to be back in NY and see so many family and friends. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Christmas Day at Home

We came home early from New York City and spent Christmas at home alone (with Luna). The kids were excited to open all of the presents that were under the tree, as they originally wouldn’t have been able to open them until after we returned from Colorado in January.

Thanks to all our family for the generous gifts.

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NYC for the Holidays – 2021

We finally had planned to spend the holidays in NY to be together with family. This was technically a Park Christmas, but my mom would be with Jen and the Haus would all be around. I hadn’t been to NY since Eemoh’s 80th birthday over three years ago. We planned to spend the first half of the week in Manhattan. Grace wanted to minimize walking, so we stayed at the St. Regis vs. the Essex House or Mandarin, which are more towards Columbus Circle.

We met Dave for dinner on the first night. My mom came down from Jen’s to hang out with us on Monday. We went to Rockefeller Center to check out the tree. It was pretty crazy down there. We had our first celebrity sighting when Olivia noticed Gaten Matarazzo from one of our favorite shows, Stranger Things. I told her to ask for a photo, but she hesitated. My mom was the most aggressive in getting close to him and in the end Liv wanted one, but we missed our opportunity.

We had a late afternoon snack at the St. Regis before heading out to go skating in Central Park at Wollman Rink. It was a bit of a zoo down there, but we had fun and no one got injured. We had dinner at Quality Italian with Dave, Jeanah and my mom. The last time we came here together, my mom took a really bad tumble on the last couple stairs and broke her knee cap and wrist. We rode the elevator this time.

On Tuesday, we went to the MOMA with the kids. They weren’t really in the mood for a museum and were being very teenagery. Grace did a little shopping on her own while the kids and I had another snack at the hotel. All the food and service there was excellent by the way, especially breakfast. That evening, we had dinner with Zoë and Jeanah. We hadn’t seen her since SJC.

By Wednesday, things were getting a little crazy with COVID-19 in Manhattan. Our Christmas plans were becoming very uncertain and it looked like we weren’t going to see extended family, including my mom, and Grace’s parents, who didn’t even come in from Michigan. Although the kids were very sad to miss spending time with Cameron and Dex at Addy and Charles’s house, we decided to head home early on Wednesday.

We took a PCR test before we left, got home safely, and all received negative results. We survived and Luna was especially happy to see us arrive home early vs. being gone for two weeks straight. We were supposed to fly directly from NY to Colorado, so those plans had to be rearranged.

Until next time, NYC!

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Lake Tahoe with Mom and Jen

We capped off our Thanksgiving holiday with my mom and Jen in Lake Tahoe. I’m not sure if it counts as a staycation when you drive 4-5 hours each way, but it is somewhat routine for us. We wanted to give them the full treatment, which included a stop at Il Fornaio in Roseville for dinner. Blue came along and they were nice enough to let him sit with us in the restaurant (instead of on the patio, which would have been chilly).

Grace was thinking that this would be somewhat of a ski trip, except it was in the 60s and the only snow on the ground was from October. I think at that time they were optimistic for an early start to the season, but it has been quite dry since then. It turned out to be fine because we could just relax and show them around.

We were all able to fit nicely into a 3BR at the Ritz-Carlton. We started Saturday morning with brunch in the hotel. Olivia wanted to skate so we took the gondola down to Northstar village, but the rink was closed until the evening. We drove half way around the lake to South Lake Tahoe. It was a perfect day and in the 60s. My mom hadn’t been to Lake Tahoe in 33 years and back then she didn’t see much.

When we got to Heavenly, it was a lot more crowded. Lucas has been wanting to do the bungee thing since he missed out in Jackson Hole. And, to Olivia’s delight, the skating rink was open over there. I took my mom up the Heavenly gondola, which has stunning views of almost the entire lake at the observation level. By the time we got down, Olivia, Jen and Lucas were all skating.

The main event for the evening was the Big 10 Championship game. This was supposed to be an early birthday celebration for Jen. There was a lot of planning of dinner around this game, including a dog sitter for Blue. In the end, we just ordered room service and watched the game in the room, which turned out to be perfect. Also perfect was our blowout, decisive victory. Everyone was happy.

Sunday, we just had brunch again at the hotel and got on the road to return home. It was a short trip and a long drive, but worth it to experience Tahoe all together. Lucas is doing ski team at Northstar this winter, so he and I will be making this trip often.

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Brunch in HMB with Mom and Jen

Even though we might have still been full from Thanksgiving, Grace arranged brunch at the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay on Sunday, November 28th. We’ve had mixed experiences with brunch there over the years, but in the past they were the big ones during Easter or Mother’s Day.

This brunch was in Navio and allowed sampling anything off the tasting menu for two hours. Olivia ordered the scallop three times. Lucas did not get his money’s worth, but did enjoy a Wagyu slider. Most importantly, Mom and Jen had a great meal and we got some nice photos at the coast. We were also able to pick up our Christmas tree on the way home.

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Thanksgiving with Michigan Grandma, Aunt Jen & Blue

It had been two years since my mom and Jen have visited using California due to the pandemic. My dad had been wanting to come visit us and see our new home. That was one of his main intentions he had at the end of his life and I’m sorry for both of us that it didn’t happen. This was our first holiday without him, and his absence was felt more now than just being apart, which was normal.

This was also Blue’s first visit with us and his first encounter with Luna. No one expected it to go well, but there were dreams that they would be cuddling by the end of over two weeks together. It didn’t happen.

There was some discussion (among the cooks) that maybe we should just order out Thanksgiving dinner and give everyone a break. Olivia insisted that was a terrible idea. We decided to divide and conquer and our team effort all turned out great.

I had to redeem myself from my last turkey on the Big Green Egg. We all learn from our mistakes. This year it turned out great and my mom said it was the best turkey ever. I think she’s just saying that.

Many of the sides were upgraded, which sometimes is a downgrade from what we had since we were kids (i.e., fresh potatoes instead of frozen hash browns). Really, it was all delicious and we didn’t have crazy leftovers.

We all still have so much for which to be thankful, despite our losses this year. Mostly, I’m thankful that we could all be together and spend the holiday together. To many more…

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