Lucas’s 11th Birthday

Lucas turned 11 on November 1st. We had a family dinner at Benihana and he invited a couple of new school friends from the neighborhood. They are super sweet and polite kids. We opened our family presents and cards at home afterwards. Grace and I usually don’t buy the kids presents because they get so much from their generous family and friends. However, this year Lucas’s had been white boarded his list all year (ranked), so we took some cues and knocked out #1. He was so happy. We also got him a dozen golf balls in his favorite color, orange. I was so happy.

In keeping with our tradition of themed birthday parties at home, Elin and Grace prepared Lucas’s favorite meal of spaghetti and meat balls along with his Pokemon decorations. He had a small group new and old school friends.

Grace also organized an escape room activity for them. Despite the creepiness, they worked together really well and managed to escape with 90 seconds to spare.

Happy 11th Birthday, Lucas! We love you.

Sigma Nu Reunion at U of M Homecoming

Anyone who knew me for my first 19 years, or even first 49 years, might be surprised that I would join a fraternity. But, for a number of reasons, I returned to U of M for my sophomore year determined to try something different. Unfortunately, that didn’t include becoming a better student. I went through the Fall Rush process and found a house where I knew a couple of people and seemed like a good fit for me.

One main consideration was that up to that age I didn’t drink at all, which made the prospect of being a pledge all the more improbable. However, Sigma Nu was founded as a non-hazing fraternity, so if I believed it possible to remain myself, while at the same time expanding my horizons, it seemed the right place for me. Thankfully, the existing members somehow felt the same way about me.

I often reflect on how I could be standing by the keg at a party and someone out of courtesy would offer me a beer before they realized to whom they were speaking. It wasn’t uncommon for that person to apologize. Listen, we were young, and did truly idiotic things all the time, but even at that age, there was also respect, maturity and inclusiveness that I appreciate to this day. Reflecting further, I know we could have done even better, but I do believe there was a sense of honor and collective consciousness that made this group different from most others (I’m biased, of course).

This past weekend, dozens of brothers from all eras returned to Ann Arbor to celebrate a number of things at Sigma Nu. A little over 10 years ago, the house had lost its way. Despite efforts by alumni to help them get back on track, they were ultimately kicked off campus. It was sad to have another fraternity living in our house, and trashing what was one of the most beautiful, grand homes on campus (again, biased).

Thanks to some students who didn’t see the house they were looking for on campus, and with the help of alumni, the house corporation, and the national organization, Sigma Nu was recolonized over the last couple years and this Fall a great group of young men moved back into a partially renovated (i.e., inhabitable) house at 700 Oxford Rd. Super big shout out to Brownie, who has invested so much time and energy to making this happen.

It was also a celebration of 100 years of Sigma Nu at U of M, so there were festivities both before and after the Iowa game.

My personal experienced included:

  • Golf on Friday at Radrick Farms, hosted by Paul and Ryan. We’re terrible at golf. Thank you!
  • Jon and Greg hosted everyone at the Pretzel Bell on Friday night. Aside from great friends whom I have seen over the years, it was great to catch up with Tony Grover and Mark Tanase. Mark did his best to discredit the rumors that he is in the CIA. Later, we put together that the Obamas were also in town for Parents Weekend. Coincidence?
  • The most important reunion for me was seeing Eric and his son, Charlie. I’m not allowed to call him Eric (Grub, Grubbie, E-Dubs are all preferred), but he was one of my groomsmen and will always be one of my best friends. I don’t know how it happened, but I haven’t seen him since … my wedding!?! There’s no good excuse, except that we fly often over the great state of North Carolina instead of to it. He stayed with me at Grace’s family’s home, which allowed for a lot of quality time to catch up.
  • Also staying with me was Chip (Douglas) and his son, Anthony. Anthony, being 15, went a little harder this weekend and basically had the best time of his life.
  • Jen has had season tickets since college and this was my first time sitting in them (thanks, Jen). Jack needed a single ticket and joined me. It was great catching up with him and listening to the commentary from the two old guys in front of us who probably have been calling games for decades.
  • I guess everyone’s experience starts with older guys and ends with younger guys. I stopped by the older guys tailgate before and after the game and caught up with great group of men to whom I always looked up.
  • Back at the house, I got to see many friends, including a lot of younger guys I got to know because it took me 5 years to finish college.
  • Grub and I took Charlie for ice cream and then back to home after a long, long day. I went to Fran and Jon’s to catch the end of the MSU-OSU game. When I left, I asked where Chip was and he was still at the house! I went back over there, where a few really old guys were likely cramping the style of the students who were trying to get their party going.
  • Somehow, we ended up at the Brown Jug at midnight with a bunch of much older guys. Chip and I supervised a few high-school sons who all go to school together in DC, but had no idea their dads were fraternity brothers (we were essentially the vape enforcement squad).
  • The next morning, we skipped the two-hour wait at Avalon and took our chances at Zingerman’s, only to find the shortest line ever. It was brilliant and Charlie had his first Zingerman’s sandwich.
  • We said our goodbyes at M-Den. By goodbye, I mean see you next year, because we made a pact to make it an annual tradition. I’m in!

Best weekend with the best guys ever. GO BLUE!

Visiting Angel Island with The Lees

We had no plans for Labor Day weekend, so to make the most of it, Grace planned an excursion in San Francisco with the Lees. We boarded the first ferry from Pier 41 to Angel Island. Aside from Albert, this was the first trip there for all of us. There are fewer ferries returning to SF, so it was a short stay on the island.

We braved the other Fisherman’s Wharf tourists and had a surprisingly nice lunch at The Franciscan when we got back ashore. We spent the rest of the day together at Julie and Albert’s house with the Wangs. Thanks, Lees, for an awesome day!

Touring Michigan with Friends – 2019

Every year my week off while the kids are at camp is a little different. A lot of it depends on how much of the week Grace chooses to spend with me. The good news was that Grace was going to take the entire week off. The bad news was that it was decided very late, so I wasn’t able to book lodging at Arcadia Bluffs.

JP was also non-committal this year, but we twisted his arm into playing twilight golf with us at Forest Dunes after camp drop-off. This was the first time Grace and JP played together, so they got their first on-course dose of each other. It was a beautiful day (despite 800 gnats swirling around your head during every shot). We had dinner together before JP headed back to Canada and Grace and I drove up to Traverse City.

Grace and I played alone at Grand Traverse the next day. It was our first time staying there and pretty nice. Afterwards, we dropped by to see Frances and Jon at the cabana, which has grown since the last time we were there. Coincidentally, the Caries and Brimhalls were staying with them, so it was so nice to catch up with everyone. I know it’s trite, but when you don’t see kids for a while or even a year, they can get big. Jake is huge, at least compared to baby Jake.

The following day we spent with my parents. That evening, Melanie and Nick took us downtown for roof-top drinks and dinner at San Morello, which is in the Shinola Hotel. I spent my first five years after college working out of a downtown Detroit office. It certainly has changed and it was a perfect evening to show off. Thanks, Mel and Nick, for an amazing dinner.

On Wednesday, we played golf with Jin and DJ at U of M. The new club house is beautiful. The course is as tough as ever. Thursday, we played with Spencer, who I hadn’t spent time with in forever. I forgot to mention that when I dropped the kids off the prior week, the Rhee families had dinner together. I stopped by the new house in Northville and also drove by Paul and David’s old house on Mayo Dr., which was a huge part of my childhood.

Afterwards, we headed back up to Forest Dunes with Jin. Friday morning, we played a quick round before heading to camp for visitors day, where we saw many more old friends.

Even though we squeezed a lot in to our week in Michigan, I know there were many friends I didn’t get a chance to see this trip. We’ll be back!

Sae Jong Camp – 2019

Olivia and Lucas attended Sae Jong Camp for their 4th year last week. I think it was their best week ever for a lot of reasons. First, Lucas’s expectations could not have been any lower, so they could only be exceeded. There’s nothing we can do about the spiders, buddy. Olivia had been keeping in touch with her cabin friends over the year, so there was the anticipation of seeing them IRL.

Doug is still going strong. He said he hadn’t had more that about 65 campers during his most recent tenure, but with 22 new campers this year, there were 78 total. Many thanks to the families who continue to recruit family and friends to help the camp grow.

I was especially happy to see Paul, who brought Micah (and hopefully Kiri next year) from Virginia. Paul was my bunk-mate for my first few years at camp and our families were the best of friends when we were growing up in Michigan. It was also awesome to see Jin Hong and Tommy for his first year. I’m looking forward to more reunions at camp in the years to come.

The staff is incredible and continues to impress. Thanks to Jami for being a great leader and to Doug for his continued adult senior supervision. Camp is exactly the same in the best ways, and also evolving in many important ways. Each year it becomes more diverse, and thus, inclusive, which only redefines our notion of what it means to be Korean-American. SJC is trending way up.

Special shout-out to Olivia and Sebastian Shim, who earned the Chull Victor Kim award for their exemplary citizenship at SJC. I’m super proud of them. I think Grace is slowly getting the SJC spirit down in her heart.

It is a magical place.

Until next year…

 

 

7th Annual Carey Dads’ BBQ

On Sunday, June 4th, Adam, Justin and I hosted our 7th annual BBQ for The Carey School. The first year, Adam hosted a small group of dads to sample IPAs and three different types of ribs. We’ve hosted the last six years at our house as the group has grown to 30+ dads. These guys are taking time out of their busy Sundays, away from their families, to eat meat and drink beer – it’s all for the children.

As Rick said, this is the real Father’s Day. Rick, along with Albert and our emeritus attendee, Mark, have dutifully attended all 7 years. For that, they were given special recognition in the form of a frame-worthy Certificate of Appreciation, as well as a sampler of carefully curated ales.

Special shout out to all of our wives, who actually do all the work (seriously, Grace does all of mine and Adam does zero work). Also, thanks to Tatchu, who came over after Operetta to learn the ways of the Kalbi Jedi from Grace.

Although I believed I had one more year of BBQ to transition, we’re leaving The Carey School a year early. So, for Adam, Justin and I, this was also our swan song. Thankfully, we’ve already recruited Savinay to carry the torch and hopefully recruit some other dads with years of Carey ahead of them (Dr. X!).

Seriously, this has been the highlight and the epitome of the Carey Community. I have no idea if the kids had any fun at school, but I definitely made many great friends and memories with these guys. Thanks to all their better halves for signing them up for our event.

We’ll miss you all! Go, Carey Eagles (and Warriors)!

Spring Break in Maui with The Lees

We’ve traveled before with Julie and Albert, but never for a week. I don’t know why because our kids (and the adults) always have such a good time with our BFFs. We haven’t been to Hawaii in 8 years, mostly because they were usually Grace’s work boondoggles. The kids were too young to have any memory of it, so this was all new to them.

Going to Kapalua on Maui is a little bit of a golf bucket-list destination, so I was excited … until we got the news that the Plantation course was closed for renovations for a year. No worries, we were really just chaperoning these five kids so they could be on their devices in one of the most beautiful places and in close proximity to the ocean. Our au pair, Ala, also came along. Hawaii was a first for her, so she went to Oahu right after we arrived to explore by herself for a couple days.

Albert’s cousin lives on the island, so they spent a few days with us as well at the resort with their daughter and brand new baby. The kids had endless ours of fun at the pool and down at the beach. We went and explored Lahaina and Kaanapali and had a lot of great meals throughout the week. On April 9th, Julie and Albert joined me and Grace in celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary at Merriman’s. Julie and Albert could write the Lonely Planet guide to Luaus and took all of us to one at the Westin in Kaanapali on our last night there. One of those fire-spinning dudes was not like the others.

By the end of the week, everyone had their fill of Spam musubi. Everyone was ready to get home to their pets (Max and Luna). It was a sign of a relaxing and restorative vacation. Our families are often like one, and we hope the kids will always feel that way about Olivia, Ellie and Theo. Looking forward to our next big adventure together.

Mahalo.

Spring Skiing in Tahoe

The weekend of March 30th, we went up to Tahoe to get some more skiing in before the end of the season. Olivia has soccer practice on Friday nights until 8pm, so we left right after she was done. Olivia has not been a fan of fast food for most of her life, but for some reason was craving McDonalds. We made a drive-thru stop on the way and she sampled the McNuggets. They are a drug. I had my first McDonalds French fries in a couple years. Also drugs. Lucas didn’t sample the McNuggets, but he is not curious to try them. Fries are the gateway drug to other McDonalds foods.

We didn’t arrive to the hotel until midnight. We’re not a first-chair kind of family, so after a proper breakfast, we hit the slopes. We had just missed some fresh snow a few days before, but were now enjoying the bluebird conditions. I left my sunglasses at the Moons’ house on our last trip up, so I ended up burning my eyeballs before buying a new pair.

The Moons were also up at their house with friends so we met up with them for dinner on Saturday night. On Sunday, we skied for a few hours again after breakfast before changing, packing up, and heading home so as to not get home too late. The traffic wasn’t as bad as our last trip, but I’m still feeling that the drive is not the best use of time. Utah is looking better and better to us.

Ski Week in Beaver Creek and Vail

We had a great time during our first time in Utah after Christmas. The next big decision was where to go during ski week. Had we known Tahoe would be dumped on by an atmospheric river, we would have considered it, but maybe they got too much snow? We settled on our trusty Beaver Creek, which turned out to have just the right amount of snow, especially compared to our last trip there.

The other upside was that Jea and Eddie were going to be there with Audrey and Ethan. They’re often skiing over the long holiday weekend, but they don’t have the whole week off. We’ve had one other chance encounter several years ago when they were in Vail, but this time we were staying at the same hotel.

Coincidentally, Eddie and I went on a couple ski trips to this area just after college. Once, we drove with Bobby from Ludington, MI, stopped at a Cracker Barrel to pick up my buddy, Eric (Grub), in Illinois, and drove to CO. We stayed at the Comfort Inn in Avon, which is a stone’s throw from the Westin. Those trips were the last time I skied with Eddie, which was why it was so awesome to ski with him again. It was just a few runs over a couple days before they left, but still fun like old times.

Poor Audrey wasn’t feeling well, so we didn’t see her on the slopes. We spent some time with their friends from DC, who were their hosts. Olivia and Lucas have apparently been playing too much Nintendo as they seemed to school the bigger kids.

The rest of the week it was just us. We tried a couple new restaurants in town, but mostly stuck with the old routine, including countless runs through Jack Rabbit Alley. One day we went over to Vail and tried to find Arthur and Sophia, but between timing and a big mountain, we didn’t hook up.

This was the kids’ first time skiing 6 days, which isn’t that impressive because we’re not a first-chair kind of family. Some days we got on the mountain just before lunch. It snowed a little while we were there, leaving just enough powder to keep everything soft. It was perfect conditions for Olivia and Lucas to tackle their first double-black diamond runs. They thought it was no big deal.

We were having a great time together until our very last run, we wen’t through some trees we had never skied, which seemed to be endless. Lucas straddled a decent sized tree and got stuck, which required me to hike up a fair way to dig him out. We were all ready to get off the mountain after that.

I knew no one was going to want to ski on our last day, so I went out early by myself. It had snowed about 4-6″ up top overnight and was a bluebird morning. I got in a few hours and called it quits while I was still in one piece.

Hoping to get in a few more days of skiing this season. With all the snow in Tahoe, it could be in June!

Skiing in Whistler with WB Guys

Last weekend, the annual West Bloomfield ski trip went international, as we met up in Whistler, BC. We had a pretty good turn out this year, as Mike joined the regulars and Chris returned after missing last year. Steve, Herb Chris and I last came to Whistler together in 2006.

Looking back, not much has changed with us since then, including Steve’s coat. Yellow snow still follows Chris wherever he goes. We’re mostly there for the food.

We were lucky to receive 19″ of new snow over a couple of days. However, the low altitude and warmer temperatures meant rain at the base and knee deep mashed potatoes up top. Still, nothing to complain about. Mike obviously came prepared for the cold temperatures he’s used to back east. Scott continues to leave us in search of double-black runs. Eventually we always find him.

Herb’s specialty in Urology means he gets the most questions throughout the trip. Thankfully, he’s not performing any surgery in the room and no one needs a prescription from him (yet). Mike might have needed something to relax him for the glass-bottomed peak-to-peak gondola.

After a big mountain trip like this, I’m equally happy to see these guys as I am that everyone went home safely and in one piece. Thanks to all the SOs who continue to support our reunions. There may be something big in the works for next year, which is a milestone year for all of us. Looking forward to it regardless of where we meet up.