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!

Eemoh’s 80th Birthday Party

My aunt celebrated her 80th birthday Saturday, August 18th, in New Jersey with many family and friends. I took the red-eye solo to represent our family for this important milestone. She is the rock of the entire Hau clan.

I arrived very early in the morning and stopped by Bobby’s house to see the family. We had breakfast together in Ridgewood, which is a super cute town. Afterwards I made my way to the party, which was on the Hudson River. My parents had come from Michigan and were staying with Jen.

There were many toasts and speeches by the children and grandchildren. There was entertainment from live action, live music and music videos. The Haus are incredibly theatrical!

Afterwards, we went to Ellie and Sandor’s beautiful new home in Rye, not far from Addy and Charles. There, I finally got to meet #4, Spencer. They were kind enough to put me up for the night. On Sunday, I drove into Manhattan with  Eemoh and met up with my parents and Jen for my first viewing of “Crazy Rich Asians” and lunch at Quality Italian. It was a super short trip, but important and memorable family time.

Happy 80th Birthday, Eemoh!

Liz and Clarence’s Family Visit

Liz and Clarence brought the whole family for their first California vacation. We were glad they and their cousin, Christine, were able to come over for dinner. The cousins had a lot of fun together, especially the slime-obsessed ones.

It was great spending time with the Tenafly Haus.

Father’s Day Weekend at Carmel Valley Ranch with Rhees

My parents and Jen had been staying with us since graduation. Grace planned for them to stay through Father’s Day so we could celebrate together. Elin took the opportunity to travel by herself to Vancouver and Seattle (now another place she’s been that I haven’t).

Grace was in Singapore all week with Dennis Rodman et al. My parents and Jen were on point for Camp Rhee at home. As a thank you, Grace wanted to take everyone to Carmel Valley Ranch for the weekend. In this type of situation, it’s best not to ask them what they want to do, and instead just let them know when it’s time to pile into the car.

We drove down Saturday morning and went straight to Carmel for lunch. My parents hadn’t been there in 30 years, so they and Jen walked around for a bit while we went to check in and get a head start on pool time.

We more or less celebrated Father’s Day at Saturday dinner, which was followed by the s’mores tradition. On Sunday morning, I rallied everyone early for breakfast because it was included. By everyone, I mean everyone except Grace, who was still wrecked from her Singapore trip. We let her sleep 14 hours while the kids and I had a practice session at the golf range. By 1pm, she was ready to rally for one more trip to the pool.

My dad is 82 and opted to not go sit outside by a pool filled with pee and screaming kids. I don’t blame him. He sheltered in place to watch the U.S. Open, which is right where he should be.

We had a late lunch together before heading out for home. Waze suggested HWY 1. It was a beautiful day for only my second drive up this route.

It was a great Father’s Day and the kids got in some QT with their grandparents and Aunt Jen. Happy Father’s Day!

Olivia’s Carey School Graduation

On Thursday, June 7th, Olivia graduated from The Carey School. It does seem like yesterday that she just finishing Kindergarten, though she has spent more than half her life at this school. Upon reflection, it has been everything we hoped for when she started: kind friends, amazing teachers (all of them) and administrators, and a wonderful community of parents and supporters.

Elementary school graduation has a lot more pomp and circumstance than I remember from my time finishing 5th grade. That said, these kids are different. While we know they grown up in their little bubble, they’re also very aware of what’s going on in their community, their country and around the world. They’ve studied and participated in movements with empathy and passion. They’re truly little citizens of the world and I do have hope that they’ll do better than we have in bringing people together.

A lot of families were graduating their last or only child this week. Thankfully, we still have a couple more years at Carey for Lucas. As for Olivia, we know she’s ready for middle school and are excited about everything new she will be experiencing.

Thanks to all of Olivia’s grandparents and Aunt Jen and Uncle Dave for coming to celebrate with us. We had a luncheon with Julie and Albert’s family at Il Fornaio (where else?) to toast our little graduates, Olivia and Olivia. Best wishes to them both! We love you.

Luna Joins Our Family

Olivia has been lobbying for a cat for quite some time. I’m an advocate for any kind of (furry) pet, though I am partial to dogs. It took the family a while to get over the passing of Snickers, especially Grace. But, the time had apparently come, as Grace told Olivia we could get a cat on her birthday.

We’ve been going to the local SPCA periodically, “just to look,” for quite a while. However, after we got back from our holiday travels, we went every weekend. There aren’t many kittens this time of year, and Grace and Olivia really wanted one.

On January 28th, we went on our weekly pilgrimage, and found they had a couple of young new arrivals. We met the first one, a beautiful gray cat, who was friendly, but very shy. We met a second cat briefly, as Lucas had to go to a birthday party, so after a quick deliberation, we decided on the gray cat. By the time I returned, Grace and Olivia had decided to take home the 2nd cat, as she was much friendlier and less shy. Snickers was pretty skittish, so I can understand the reluctance to get another cat that would hardly be seen.

The cat was a stray and guessed to be about a year old. She was found pregnant, but too malnourished to carry the kittens to term. She had a name when she arrived, but it was changed to Pomegranate. That was too much of a mouthful for us, so we were going to come up with our own name.

When she got home, it became clear we need to call her something, so we brainstormed some names. I started throwing out Harry Potter names: “Hermione,” “Belatrix,” “Luna Lovegood,” Luna actually seemed to fit, as she had similar coloring to Luna Lovegood and she did look a little like the moon. It stuck, even though Grace wasn’t convinced.

It didn’t initially strike us how beautiful Luna is. She came home with us because in a way, she chose us with her friendly personality. The first night was interesting, as Olivia was determined to have Luna sleep with her, but she was set on sleeping on/near her face, so that didn’t last at all. Instead, she slept on Grace’s and my face that first night.

She is so friendly to everyone, including strangers. Everyone is in love with her. We’re so glad she has joined our family. Welcome home, Luna!

Olivia’s 11th Birthday Celebration at Benihana in Michigan

Our last dinner together in Michigan was to celebrate Olivia’s 11th birthday. We don’t traditionally celebrate birthdays there, but it was what Olivia wanted. The number one thing Olivia has been asking for is a cat. I wasn’t a proponent of making a pet a Christmas or Birthday gift, but Grace had mentally committed to getting a new cat. Olivia was overjoyed to read the news that it was finally happening.

Happy Birthday, Olivia!

Christmas in Michigan with Rhees and Parks

For the first time in 8 years, we spent the Christmas holiday in Michigan at my parents’ house (and childhood home). The kids know it well from our summer trips, but they haven’t really experienced snow there as kids (and ironically there was a lot more of it than in Colorado). Addy and Charles were also in Michigan to visit Amy and Arnie’s family, and thus Grace’s parents and Dave also came to Michigan.

Everyone came over for Christmas Day and dinner. The kids had some daylight to play in the snow. I tried to buy some sleds, but there was nothing open. They improvised with cardboard and plastic. Grace improvised with the recycling container top. The Rhees (no relation) also joined us for dinner, which was prepared by my mom, Jen and Grace.

We spent time in Ann Arbor with Grace’s Hur side of the family. It was nice to see all the cousins. They each took turns kissing the ring (Dad Park).

We saw Melanie, Nick and the kids, who took us downtown for lunch and bowling at Punch Bowl Social. It was a nice excursion to my old work neighborhood. Detroit is coming along!

The holidays is also the time we celebrate my Dad’s birthday. We celebrated 82 with a great meal at Eddie V’s, which is new to Detroit. Happy Birthday, Dad!

We all love visiting Michigan at any time of year. Olivia and Lucas can’t get enough of the wide open spaces and my parents’ yard. Even though it was single digits, they never really complained about the cold, which encourages me that our California kids are tougher than we might think.