4th of July at Carneros Resort in Napa

After months of sheltering in place, we started to have family gatherings with only Julie and Albert over the past few weeks. We’re deep into an already short summer, so we decided to break the seal on a vacation together, as things are both opening up and looking a little dicey. Amy and Mike’s family also joined us, which was great because we’re already indirectly part of the same group.

It took us 8 years to use a wedding gift and visit the Carneros Resort. At the time, it was one of my favorite vacations ever, despite me not really being that interested in visiting wine country. After that trip, my dream was to visit once a quarter. Seven years later and we have been back zero times, until this past weekend.

We were all navigating our new normal for seeing friends and vacationing while COVID-19 continues to spread. Most people at home and at the resort abided by wearing masks and/or remaining socially distant. The kids appeared to be a lot more vigilant about it, especially while eating. We all did our best.

This was everyone else’s first time at the resort. Theo continues to prove his worth, necessitating their clan to get a house on property. I didn’t even know they had them, but it was spectacular. It was a tight fit in our little cottage last time when Lucas and Olivia were 4 and 6. It was an even tighter fit now and somehow Lucas still ended up in our bed.

The dining situation was just opening up, so Grace brought up food and supplies to cook dinner for a couple nights, which was fine by everyone. Amy and Mike had a couple adjoining cottages, which was perfect for s’mores in their patio each night. Each morning we did our own thing for breakfast, which was usually carry out from Boon Fly.

On Friday, we borrowed bikes from the resort for a short ride through wine country. Lucas coincidentally had the same exact bike on which he learned to ride two-wheels. He’s on his third Cleary bike, which is a local brand and super awesome. The only bad thing was that it has no gears, which made the hills a challenge. It was kind of hard to complain though as Theo didn’t have any gears either, plus he was riding with a broken arm in a cast. Everyone made it.

Following lunch, we braved the family pool, thinking it would be nap time for at least some of the kids. it was pretty manageable and everyone did their best to remain socially distant. Julie is the mayor of everywhere she goes and the Carneros pool was no exception. She knew everyone there. Grace cooked dinner again at home, which was followed by more s’mores. We had a solid routine.

Saturday’s morning activity was a hike at Bartholomew Park. It was a decent hike with enough elevation to make it challenging and also offer beautiful vistas as the reward. Different parts of the group bit off what they wanted. The dads went to the top. Everyone earned a cool dip in the pool later that afternoon.

It was the 4th of July and Grace managed to get us a reservation at Farm. Our group was so big that they gave us a private room, which opened to the outside and made it al fresco – it was perfect. This was pretty much the first time dining out for everyone in months, which made it that much more appreciated and enjoyable. We hung out again after dinner, but everyone (parents included) were wiped out from all the activity. I don’t think anyone missed it, but we didn’t see any fireworks.

Same as last trip, I woke up before dawn on the last day to take some pictures of the sunrise. The full moon was also setting. I always forget that it takes a little longer for the sun to peak over the hills, so I ended up standing out there for an hour. It was worth it for some quiet time, though I did go back to bed for a bit.

For a lot of reasons, this was a memorable and well-deserved break from life at home (and in home). It was special to be there with our family BFFs (and extended family). We’re just practicing for the commune and scoped out some property to start building.

I’ll say it again that this is a very special place and I’m ready to go back for Labor Day. Even if it ends up being another 7 years, that would be fortunate enough. Stay safe, everyone.

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!

Lucas’s 10th Birthday Celebrations

It’s hard to believe Lucas is now double digits. We celebrated on his actual birthday with dinner at Benihana with the Lees. This is an odd turn of events, as Lucas used to really dislike any outing to Benihana, but now it is on his short list.

Afterwards at home, we opened gifts from all of his generous grandparents, aunts and uncles.  He’s been asking for Lazer Chess all year long and I told him to put it on his list. He was so happy. Aunt Jen got him his annual big Lego project, which he will wait to do with her during Christmas. I’m secretly really jealous of all of his Legos.

Ellie had her birthday party on Saturday, and on Sunday, pretty much the same crew came over to celebrate with Lucas for his party. He is really into “Keeper of the Lost Cities,” so Kate helped plan his usual themed birthday party and activities. He has a wonderful group of friends from school and old family friends.

Happy 10th Birthday, Lucas! We love you.

Birthday Dinner with the Lees

Julie and Al took our family out for our birthdays. In addition to dinner at Il Fornaio, I’m looking forward to redeeming my round of golf with Al as well as using the illegal chipper club they gave me because of my yips. I’m going low.

Thanks to great friends for being so thoughtful and celebrating with us.

Father’s Day 2017

It’s rare that I get to celebrate Father’s Day with my dad. Thankfully, Grace made sure to arrange my parents’ visit to include the holiday. We had a big day ahead, so we went out to an early brunch at Il Fornaio (thanks, Mom and Dad!).

Grace took the kids to the SPCA on Saturday. Olivia wanted to show me some kittens she liked so my dad and I took them again after brunch. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the kitties (from Hawaii) looked a lot like Snickers. I could have earned about a million Dad points if we brought one (or both?) home, but this was not the day. Sorry, Olivia.

My parents and Albert’s parents met briefly at Operetta and we’ve been meaning to get them together since then. Father’s day was our last chance this visit, so we invited the entire Lee clan over, including Albert’s brother and sister-in-law, Mike and Amy, and their kids. It was a busy day for all of them, especially as Julie and Albert were just getting back from LA, so we appreciate them making time to join us.

Julie and Albert feed us Kobe Fred steaks pretty much every time we go over to their house. Ironically, Albert said he’s not much of a steak guy when going out, but he mentioned in passing that he will order prime rib. Even though I only had one under my belt, I decided that would be on the menu. I had a long conversation with Guy at Pape Meat Co. and even though he said it was too much meat, I brought home a full (7 bones) prime grade prime rib. The last one was four bones and only 7.5 pounds, so I was surprised when this one was rung up at 20 lbs. It was about what I imagine an actual cow would cost.

We had our work cut out for us, but first I had to figure out how to cook it. It all fit onto the Big Green Egg and I gave it a little extra time to cook (about four hours at 250). I determined that I need an extra thermometer because the smaller piece was a lot more done than the other, which was fine because some of this crew likes it a little more done. The biggest challenge was slow cooking on a day of record high temperatures.

Grace and my mom went crazy with lobster roll appetizers and sides. It all came out beautifully. We needed about 3 or 4 more families to finish the prime rib. The kids played some serious HORSE with uncle Dave until it was dark. Ellie is showing a lot of promise at hoops and Theo’s hard work is paying off.

It was a very happy Father’s Day. Thanks to all the moms for making it happen!

Legoland and San Diego Zoo Safari Park with Lees

On Tuesday, March 29th, we met up with the Lees, who were staying in Carlsbad with Julie’s parents for Spring Break. I’m still loving Legoland and not ready to graduate to Disneyland (though the kids may be). Albert was working, so we were a perfect 8 and I had the pleasure of riding with Olivia, Ellie and Theo. These guys are such cute buddies (especially Ellie and Lucas, who continue to be BFFs at school).

Everything was going great until they demanded to ride the Teacups (why???) and I took one for the team. I wasn’t the same the rest of the day. We went to their hotel at Aviara and ordered out dinner.

We met up with them again on Thursday at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. We were originally going to go to the SD Zoo, but we’ve been there a couple times, so this was a welcome change. It was a little busy, but otherwise was super clean and nice. We spent just the right amount of time there. The weather was also perfect all week (cool and dry).

Not pictured: Albert (although he arrived, someone has to make the sausage). Great times with the Lee Family on Spring Break!