Harry Styles Concert at Wembley Stadium

Aside from Harry Potter, everything else Olivia and Lucas think they know about the UK is from Ted Lasso. Without it, they wouldn’t know what Wembley is (and we wouldn’t know it’s a new stadium replacing the old). 

When we asked the kids if there was anything of particular interest to see in London, nothing was suggested. That was until Olivia found out her favorite, Harry Styles, was playing 4 sold-out shows at Wembley during our stay. In the evening on what shall henceforth be known as “The Day of Harry,” we made the pilgrimage to see him play. 

I thought Olivia may have shed her last tear for Harry, but I was wrong. She was bawling within the first minute. It’s no secret to Olivia that my favorite band member is Sarah, mostly for her understated drummer+mum vibe (she’s so cool). This show was a different scale from seeing him (and her) up-close in LA, but it was also a lot easier to get to (aside from the 10-hour flight). It was also great for the whole family to enjoy him, as Lucas is an admitted fan. 

Honestly, museums are boring. This was my favorite part of this leg of the trip. Walking out with 10s of thousands of people, who were patient, polite, and singing, is a great way to learn about a country and itIt is very gratifying to see so the kids experiencing such joy, even if it’s further proof they were born on 3rd base. They know we are all very lucky. 

Until next time, Harrys.

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Harry Potter Studio Tour in London

Before they were fans of the MCU, Olivia and Lucas have been lifelong Potterheads. Honestly, most of what they thought they knew about the UK is from Harry Potter.

Visiting the Warner Brothers Studio Tour was suggested by friends and it was the perfect excursion outside central London for the day. It’s where all eight Harry Potter movies were filmed over a decade. It’s clear the connection the kids have to the sets and artifacts when I consider how much time and attention was given compared to the art at the Tate Modern. Perhaps an appreciation for the latter will come later.

I highly recommend the tour if you love Harry Potter like we do.

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Summer Travel – Part 1: London, UK

There’s a lot of the world for all of us to explore. We departed for London on the first day of summer vacation for a starter Europe trip. We arrived early in the morning and it did seem like a long way to come for chicken and waffles.

It was too early to check in, so we thought a Big Bus double-decker tour would be a good way to see some sights. This turned out to be a bad idea for a number of reasons. First, within a few minutes of waiting for the first bus, Grace appeared to be an easy mark for a guy dressed head-to-toe in black on an e-bike. He was coming straight for us on the sidewalk and then tried to snatch Grace’s phone right from her hands. Lucky for him he was unsuccessful because Olivia and I spent the rest of the day plotting our revenge.

Due to jet lag, face-melting heat, and occasional hunger, the absorption rate of history, arts, and general tourism was very, very low. It’s starting to cool and we’re getting adjusted. Some highlights so far were red phone booths, Covent Garden, and dinner at Dishoom.

We’re gearing up for a double-dose of culture tomorrow.

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Spring Break – Part 2: White Lotus Edition

Plan B for spring break was a last minute change from a week in LA. Five days in Maui was just enough time for the kids to enjoy spring break, especially as school has been a bit of grind. This was our first time staying at this resort, though Steve and Vickie were married here 21 years ago.

It’s true the White Lotus music played in my mind when I recognized different scenes and artifacts. The kids hadn’t seen it so they have no clue. We had no agenda on this trip and Lucas and I arrived a little under the weather. Any ambitions of snorkeling Molokini, scaling Haleakala, or zip lining faded quickly. For such a short trip, I’m totally cool with just hanging out.

Although we made the most of the ocean, pool, and wonderful food at the resort, mistakes were made. The lessons learned were: you can’t spend hours at a mall with 12 stores; Tommy Bahamas is the Bubba Gumps of Hawaii; no matter how good Morimotos is, 8:15pm island time is too late for dinner.

Olivia’s close friend and family from school were staying at their home nearby and they were very kind to invite us for lunch. Olivia and Grace were lucky to have spent a few days at the end of last summer at their home. We all went to Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice, which was the best treat of the trip.

We made the most of our last day by trying boogie boarding. I scorpioned on my first ride and was badly damaged. Olivia, Lucas and Grace got some great rides, even if their facial expressions don’t match their true emotions. We had one last buffet to power us through the long trip home.

I’m so glad we took this trip as great memories were made and we’re still able to enjoy traveling together.

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Spring Break – Part 1: Los Angeles

We were going to spend the week in Los Angeles for spring break, spending time with LA grandparents and uncle Dave. We were also going to use the opportunity to see some LA-area colleges for Olivia, but it turns out she’s not (currently) interested in those schools. In any case, we were overdue for a visit.

We stayed in Century City and some highlights included:

  • Dinner at Chosun Galbee
  • Lunch at Ann & Jeremy’s beautiful new home
  • First ride ever in any Italian sports car
  • First (and possibly last) hot pot experience

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2023 U of M Ski Trip to Vail

This past weekend was spent with brothers for life in Vail. Although the tradition goes back at least a decade, this was only my second trip. It’s not easy to herd this many cats on a mountain as big as Vail, but we did our best.

It’s easy to see the routine: Loaded Joes, skiing, hot tub, dinner and cards, with some other activities sprinkled in between. There were some high speed crashes, but everyone went home in one piece. As always it was great to reconnect and catch up with each other throughout the trip.

Lamar and I broke our perfect record of losing in Euchre, but one of those wins was against a team who had no idea what they were doing. Allard and Durbin are unbelievably undefeated and couldn’t be less gracious about that fact – worst winners ever.

Thanks to Brad who organized a special dinner in a private room at Elway’s. His only request was that everyone share a toast. I had a conversation last year about learning the importance of never missing an opportunity to let people in your life know what they mean to you. This group already gets it. Many beautiful words were shared to attest to the gratitude we all share for our decades of friendship.

I’m already looking forward to Super Bowl weekend in Vail next year (and every year thereafter).


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U of M Tahoe Trip to Blaine’s – Winter Edition

Matt invited the west coast crew back up to Lake Tahoe for a ski trip. It’s just as beautiful up there in the winter, just snowier. I rode up with Ben on Thursday evening and Matt and Dukes were already up there.

Friday, we skied Palisades, which was the first time for me in years. Because I last skied there when the kids were very little, I don’t recall the big mountain aspect if this resort. It was a welcome change. We met up with Greg and his friends and skied together after lunch.

On Saturday, we avoided the crowds and skied at Matt’s home mountain of Homewood. This was a first for me. I always thought Heavenly had the best views in Lake Tahoe but I was wrong. Homewood is right on the lake with spectacular views everywhere. It was well groomed and quiet. The plumbing is not modern.

Great weekend away with the boys. Hope we do it again soon. Thanks for having us, Blaine!

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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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Harry Styles Concert in Los Angeles

We’re nearing the end of our concert series for 2022, but this is clearly the pinnacle for Olivia, who is slightly obsessed with Harry Styles. We were cool with Olivia wanting to see him on his tour, but it didn’t help that he was only playing a few cities, the nearest being in Los Angeles.

Back in May, Olivia came home from a school trip with a lot of memories and COVID-19. The silver lining of her being home that week was the she could focus all of her time and attention to securing tickets to this concert. She enlisted my help and as each show went on sale, we anxiously logged in to get in the queue. We first ended up with 4 tickets to last Saturday’s show, which thanks to being deep in line and Ticketmaster’s “dynamic pricing,” we paid an astronomical sum for upper bowl tickets. I was underwhelmed.

A few hours later, we tried again for the next Saturday’s show. While I was again thousands deep, Olivia somehow ended up 2nd in the queue. She was in tears with joy. I was just happy she got 8 General Admissions tickets for a reasonable sum and was now just stressed about who to invite.

In the end, only a couple of Olivia’s friends could attend the show, which was perfect because my car only holds 4 people. After our Olivia Rodrigo GA debacle, Olivia felt we needed to up our GA game and wanted to camp out. I was very hesitant to sign up for that, given an overnight in Inglewood with 3 teens seemed sketchy. Plus, I’m way too old to sleep on pavement. Olivia’s pragmatism prevailed and she decided on her own that it wasn’t worth it.

I picked them up straight from school on Friday and after seven hours, including a stop at Party City for feather boas and candy, we made it to LA. We tried to do a drive-by of the Kia Forum, but Friday’s show was just letting out and it was mayhem. The weather was really nice, so I agreed to go early and try to get wrist bands. We got up at 5:30am and got in line around 6:00am, behind about 600 people crazier people than us. There were people already in line and camping for Tuesday’s show – nuts!

We brought lawn chairs, Snuggies, sign-making supplies and even homework and the time passed surprisingly quickly. By 10:40am, our wristbands were secured. We were numbers 610-613 in line. Olivia’s friends had not really visited LA before, so we went for a well-deserved brunch in Manhattan Beach. Olivia wasn’t very happy that I forced them to take so many pictures after we had all just rolled out of bed and were not camera ready. Too bad.

We only had a couple hours to rest and get ready before heading back to the forum between 3-4pm to get back in line. From then, it was queue after queue until we finally entered the arena just after 6pm. Ben Harper opened  and was great and Harry’s set started promptly at 9pm. We had already been on our feet for 6 hours. I was now ready to sit and admit to shopping for seats on StubHub.

Within about 20-30 seconds of Harry coming on stage, I realized his fandom is something I hadn’t really experienced before. It was deafening (literally – ears still ringing). Olivia wasn’t crying just yet. However, the minute I realized all of this was worth it was when Harry waved to her and she just turned around to me and started sobbing. At 15, I didn’t love anything or anyone that much (because I didn’t discover Kim Basinger until I was 16). Olivia sobbed again in the car when she reviewed the video of Harry waving at her.

The show was actually really fun and the girls all had such a good time, Olivia especially. I will say I am more of a fan, but I’m not necessarily inclined to camp out for him again. Even Olivia conceded it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing.

We didn’t eat or drink anything for close to 12 hours, so it was time for dinner. It’s been close to 30 years since I had a late night in Manhattan Beach, but The Kettle is still 24-hours so we went there. It was a long, long day of Harry Styles.

I told Olivia I was only invited because they needed me there. She said that wasn’t true – they didn’t need me (oof). The truth is in a few years she’ll be able to do this on her own. I’m glad we got to experience this together and she was truly appreciative.

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