We’re so happy Olivia found her people during her first semester at Nueva. She invited some of them (and her brother) to her 13th birthday party, which included our old-time favorite, bowling, pizza on the Ave., and dessert at our house. We feel fortunate for these friendships and hope they continue to flourish.
The kids had an extra week of winter break after Christmas so we took advantage and decided to go skiing. Winter break skiing has been hit or miss for us the past couple of years. Last year’s trip to Deer Valley will likely not be topped, though we had our fingers crossed that the opportunity might present itself to Ann and Jeremy (and then to us). We waited for word, but it wasn’t happening so we needed a plan B. Plan A for skiing is usually Beaver Creek, so looked into that.
It turned out that Eddie’s family was also planning to be there, though we would only overlap a couple days. Of course we also wanted Ann and Jeremy to join us, but it’s complicated when everyone is on a different season pass and Colorado is Vail/Epic country. In the end, they decided to give it a try and we all stayed at the same resort.
We traveled again on Olivia’s birthday. Last year’s birthday dinner at the Deer Valley Seafood Buffet was not such a big hit and I wanted to make it up to her. We invited everyone to join us at Grouse Mountain Grill, which is usually always solid. This time, however, we were seated very late, dinner dragged on for more than two hours, and not everyone’s food was great. I don’t think we’ll return.
We got to ski with Eddie’s family on the 31st as the Rogers kids were taking a break as they had already been on the mountain a few days. We tried to keep it simple by celebrating New Year’s Eve in the hotel, but dinner was again a disaster and again dragged on for hours. The kids left to play Nintendo in the room. I think Ethan was looking for redemption from last year, but I don’t think he got it.
Olivia had come down with a cold, so she and Grace stayed in on the 1st and I skied with Jeremy and Elsen and on the 2nd, Lucas and I skied mostly together. Olivia rallied on the 3rd and we skied the same double-blacks we skied last year together. We finally had a really great meal at Vin 48, which we hadn’t tried in all of our previous trips. It will now be in the rotation.
Ann and Jeremy left early on the 4th. I skied by myself for a couple hours in the morning. We made our only stop in Vail for lunch on the way out of the mountains.
We had great snow and weather for most of the week and the only bummer was that Grace and Olivia only got to ski a couple days. We’ll have to make it up this winter.
Elin was hoping to go on one last ski trip with. us before returning to Sweden. Thanks to some early snow, we went for a short weekend up to Northstar at Tahoe. We rarely (if ever) leave early on Saturday morning, but somehow we made it out the door and onto the mountain by 11am, which is about when we would be skiing even if we had stayed overnight.
We had a late night in the arcade after dinner. Sunday morning, we had a full breakfast and Elin helped us with our holiday card. There was some more snow on Saturday night, which made Sunday skiing one of the best days ever on the mountain that I can recall. Grace opted out of skiing on Sunday, which meant that Lucas, Olivia, Elin and I went to explore the mountain. We found a lot of fresh powder out there.
Hopefully we’ll ski again with Elin, maybe next time in Europe!
Up until a few weeks ago, there was radio silence on our annual U of M holiday dinner. Thankfully, we were able to lock in a date and the Hoffmans graciously offered to host at their beautiful house. One thing that makes it hard to find a time are those pesky kids and their schedules. We lost the Thornes at the last minute due to an out-of-town soccer tournament. We also lost our lone Aussie, Michael, due to work.
The rest of us had to press on with delightful food and company. Look at all of these beautiful smiles and festive people! Jenn preparing her salad in the laundry room / sous-chef area is something out of an InStyle spread. The white elephant gift exchange was rather tame, with only a few real stinkers, which Jenn had a knack for selecting. The squatty potty was a nice touch and thanks to Matt for demonstrating. Cutest couple goes to Jason and Ben.
The older we get, the earlier this party breaks up. That said, I’ll never tire of this group of amazing friends. Happy Holidays and GO BLUE!
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.
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!