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.

Golden Gate Bridge with Elin

Elin returned to stay with us for a few months this Fall while we look our new au pair. We stopped at the Golden Gate on the way to Tiburon to visit the Moons for the day. I dropped them off on the south side of the bridge so they could all walk across. I drove to the other side and met them in the middle.

Somehow Lucas, Olivia and I started singing 100 bottles of beers on the wall and I lost my voice by the time we finished.

Walking across the bridge was a first for us.

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!

Ala’s Last Day With Us

Ala’s year as our au pair with us went by so quickly. We all learned so much from the experience and we enjoyed trying new home-cooked Polish food. Saying farewell is always hard, but one thing Lucas and Olivia learned from our experience with Elin is that it’s never goodbye, but see you again soon.

We wish Ala well and look forward to our next reunion.

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!