Sunday, May 26, 2013

Lee Family and Friends

Photo: Congatulations to my Uncle Tommy Lee and my New Aunt Adrienne Camarao! I love you guys and had a blast with all the family and my new family!

A beautiful a wedding and the start to a beautiful marriage! Family weddings are always a little more special because, unlike with friends, we don't usually see our family letting it all loose.  But the Lee Family certainly got loose Saturday to celebrate Tom and Adrienne's Big Day. The friend contingent did a pretty good job keeping up too....

But not with Huelan.  No one could keep pace with that girl. From the Flower Girl walk down the aisle through to the last song, she did her best to steal the show.  Want to get a taste of her night? Imagine five-plus hours of this:

More pics here

Friday, May 24, 2013


About two months before Huelan was born, Liz and I took a leisurely drive down Highway 1, stopping at a few B&B's and seeing the sights.  A Baby-Moon.

This time, we don't really have that luxury.  We don't really even have a ton of weekends left before the little one is due, and even fewer free ones, so we decided semi-spontaneously to make a short roadie down to the Monterey Peninsula for some sun and fun.  Still down the coast, just a quicker round trip.

But first, we weren't going to miss the Greek Festival at the Oakland Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Ascension, just down the hill from us.  I was kind of hoping for Zeus and stuff, but they're some sort of Christians, in case you were wondering.

It was billed by our friends as one of the best food festivals around, and it did not disappoint.  In addition to the Gyros (average), we sampled some tasty pork skewers and their version of donut holes (tossed in honey- fresh, slightly crispy, warm, and gooey).  The grounds were very nice and I am kicking myself for not going into the chapel itself, which was ornate and topped with a classic dome of well-patina-ed copper.  

The best parts were the music and dancing.  Huelan had no reservations about jumping in with the other young girls and circling hand-in-hand.  None of them really knew the steps, so she fit right in.

My favorite (non-edible) part was the teens dancing - they had a pretty elaborate routine that finished with some very cool solos.  It was like a Greek Step Up, which I have a weakness for.  You could just tell that the teens looked forward to the dance performance all year, probably for years even, as an adolescent rite of passage where the boys and girls check out each others' moves and do their best to put on a show for one another.  The smells, flavors and sounds- probably not very different than 200 years ago. I thought that was a fantastic way to build and maintain a community bond many years and miles away from its origin.

Saturday morning we packed up the car for Santa Cruz.  The Boardwalk probably also largely unchanged from a few decades ago.  Only now with waaay more terrible tattoos.  I mean really bad ones in really bad places.  But we were there to get some sun, some thrills, and some empty calories, all of which we accomplished.  

Then we drove a little further down to Monterey so that we could wake up on Sunday and visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  In contrast the to Boardwalk, I saw almost no terrible tattoos here.  And they do a wonderful job of making the entire place very interactive for youngsters.  Huelan got to get up close with tons of different critters and hands-on with a bunch as well.  I thought the highlight was feeding time in the Deep Ocean exhibit- 300lb blue fin tuna booking it around a 1.3 million gallon tank- but Huelan's favorite seemed to be touching kelp. Go figure.  

Actually, what might rival that for Huelan's favorite was the hotel.  The room was nice but unremarkable except for one thing- an orange chaise lounger that Huelan saw and immediately said was a bed "Just my size."  So we threw a sheet over it, tucked her in, and got a bed to ourselves unexpectedly.  Mini-Moon indeed.

More pics here

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Inside the Dancers' Studio

At 3.5 years old, it's really just getting the girls in a room with a big mirror, some music, and a kind-of-granola teacher to give them some direction.  And that's all Huelan needs.

She's about five weeks in to the session- it's ballet/tap- and there's only one other girl in this class.  We're not sure if that's a plus or minus, but just for something different we hope that there are a few more girls in the next session.

Parents are not allowed in the studio during the class- we watch via closed circuit TV on the waiting room.  But there's a "recital" on June 16th where we'll be able to watch live and we already know she's going to go nuts.

(at 0:14 and 1:13 she says, "My butt itches.")

Here are three more videos I shot that day.  The class eventually devolves into chasing each other around the studio and making animal sounds, but then so do a lot of her activities.


The only place she's allowed to tap upstairs is on the tile in the entry.  So that's where her tap shows take place.  Like Tyler Perry, she plays all the parts in her productions, and all the parts have different moves to showcase.


If there's a stage around, this girl will find it.  And if there isn't one, she just might craft one out of a stool a rock or an upturned bucket.  She has just the vaguest notion of shyness, maybe shrinking for a moment with a new acquaintance, but her compulsion to shine quickly wins out.   She belts out memorized nursery rhymes and freestyles with equal conviction.  And when she bows, she expects applause.  She might not be on key, but she loves to be on.

Monday, May 20, 2013

May Days


Mothers' Day was kind of an atyipcal one this year.  Great for my mom since for the first time in probably over a decade she's had all of her kids together to celebrate with her.  I went down solo just for the night to attend my uncle Loi's wedding, which happened to be the night before Mothers' Day and an excuse to get the fam all dressed up for some pics.

The wedding was a blast- literally- with cannon propelled confetti and streamers.  I've been to a number of Vietnamese weddings, though mostly of my parents' friends, so an older generation.  This was the first one closer to my generation (Loi's the same age as me).  I wouldn't call it a traditional Vietnamese wedding, but the reception was very Vietnamese, though more new school. The live band (playing You've Got to Lick It and Freak Out) was one of the highlights, in addition to a co-ed bouquet toss (great idea getting ALL the single people on the dance floor together) and a bottle of Remy on every table.  And Peking Duck Butt... way better than it sounds.

SoCal Mothers' day was a relaxed affair, perfect for the occassion.  We stuffed ourselves again, opened some presents, and mom posed for pictures.  Great tradition that I hope we can do again sooner than later.

Meanwhile, back in the Bay, Liz managed to keep busy with Huelan.  Saturday was a twofur of a birthday - Sydney and Melinda.  Sacramento and San Mateo.  Liz easily logged 300 miles with Huelan in tow, but pulled it off without a major meltdown.  Huelan somehow knew that there was partying involved, so went along with the plan.  They spent the night in the Sunset to wake up at Grandma's on Mothers' Day, which was a casual affair at the house.  With Tom and Adrienne's wedding this weekend, I think that a cozy Mothers' Day was just what the doctor ordered.

some pics here, including Huelan opening the costume chest that Dina's daughter Paige has outgrown.  I think I feel a Princess Phase coming on....
Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 10, 2013

Round Trip

BiBi's back from Viet Nam. She's got some big plans, but going to hang out with us for a little while first. 

Yard Birds

For someone who's not really in to yard work, I've been doing a buttload lately. Capped off last weekend by digging a hole in hard, rocky soil where a big juniper bush used to live to make a home for the lemon tree that Anh got us for a housewarming gift 15 months ago. Better late than never.

About 15 more bags of mulch, and we'll be set for and while I hope. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


I forgot about this video from a few weeks ago.  Huelan has been playing this game for about a year with no signs of letting up.  We take turns being  either the spotter (Buddy the T-Rex has very good eyesight) or the fisher (Tiny Pteranadon is a pescavore).  She likes being the Pteranadon, who strikes fear in her prey with a shriek, then spears fish with her beak and brings them back to the nest.

Chu Ti is a good sport!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sunny Days


We had about 9 days of atypical bay area weather. Atypical in that it was about 85degrees and sunny.

We whined about the heat a little bit, but really it was gorgeous and people actually wore shorts.  Perfect for the anniversary brunch and baby shower at Harding Park.

More pics here.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 5, 2013

End of April

April was the busiest month I can remember, so I'm sure that I'll forgot many things from this wrap up, but I'll do my best.

After the camping trip, we shifted into high gear. There was Vlad's bachelor party (and the rehab), Liz's spa day baby shower, Vlad's wedding (and the rehab), Lynn & Larry's anniversary, the end of my fiscal year at work, a visit from Rene and Mark, and , in the last day of the month, the Grand Opening of Bay Vein Associates. Personally and professionally, probably the busiest I've ever been.
A whirlwind with more than a little anxiety, but man was it fun. Vlad, Jay, Sam, Scott, Hollis, Brian, Anh, and me in Vegas. Sounds like a dumb idea, and it was.

Sell a pile of implants on the final day of the year to eek out my quota, followed by a spectacular Warriors game, where I lost a contact lens in the wind only to have it found by a random passerby right when I was about to lose hope and succumb to despair.

Vlad and Rachel's wedding was just right- full of friends, celebration, dancing, food, sake and partial blackout.

Though I couldn't properly punish the generous buffet at the Palace Hotel the next morning for the anniversary brunch, it was probably just as well.

When we got back, after a little family nap, I smoked a tri tip and got to spend some quality time with ooooold friends.

That was just enough of a respite to re-energize and take on the final preperations for the first day of appointments at Bay Vein Associates. The plan was to only book four patients in the four hours we were open, and we pretty much needed the entire time. As we get our processes streamlined, we'll ramp up, but right now we're not in a hurry. Just trying not to screw anything up.

Then this weekend, Liz had her family baby shower at Harding Park (man I miss playing golf), which allowed me a couple of hours to vegg out... or install some recessed speakers in the kitchen. Guess which I chose.

Finally, today Anh came over and we planted the lemon tree he gave us for a housewarming gift (the one that's been on the deck for 15 months). Had to dig through gravelly soil and tenacious juniper roots, but we got the job done. And for good measure we cleared some of the dry brush off the side of hill behind the house for some positive kindling karma.

The thing is, the busier I am = the busier Liz is. And we could both be hungover, dead tired and beaten down, and het no deference from Huelan. She'll still jump on our faces at 7:15. She'll still want to go to the oark if it's sunny. She'll still want to play "hide and find" at all hours of the day. This is both exhausting and extremely comforting, annoying and endearing.

And when one of us picks up the slack for the other, it's not a favor, it's not a score, it's just appreciated. Besides, we probably won't be as busy when we add a newborn to the mix, right?


One for the archives