US Open ’15

Olivia flew to New York on Friday to meet John for a weekend getaway. They were lucky to have tickets to the women’s final at US Open and while it was a bit of a bummer that Serene Williams didn’t qualify, it was very exciting to be at the event and venue.

The weekend started with an exclusive evening reception together with Stan Smith – him himself a former US Open champion. After the reception Olivia and John walked around the 9/11 memorial – close the Battery Park hotel. Friday marked the 14th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and other landmarks and the memorial was packed with people. Most were somber while other visitors took smiling selfies. The iconic blue lights were on all weekend as a great reminder of where the twin towers stood and what once was.

Saturday Olivia and John were transported to the Arthur Ashe stadium early morning. Reports of upcoming rain had everybody looking towards the sky, but as it turned out the rain would only being after the final ceremonies of the day.

An early arrival brought an almost empty stadium which was quite a unique experience. The men’s double soon was underway and over, so there was time to have Stan Smith show them around the facilities. They bumped into Rodger Federer on the practice courts but overall most of the celebrities were in the stands. The women’s final was exciting and well-played and it was special to be there with Flavia Pennetta announcing her retirement.

The evening brought Olivia and John to Gotham Bar & Grill. Lovely atmosphere and food followed by drinks with one of John’s colleagues and his girlfriend at the Flatiron Lounge. Good times!

Sunday morning the weekend was finished off with a (re)visit to the 9/11 Museum. It is very well done and one could spend hours upon hours there. Some of the exhibits are quite emotional but it’s a good reminder of just how significant an event it was for all and how it could happen in the first place.

Back on the bench

All the girls are back in school and seem happy with that. The new Gym – actually, the first Gym isn’t quite ready. Some water pipe burst and as things stand right now, Isabella and Pia will not be playing any volleyball matches there. They are pretty bummed, but at least Adriana will get to enjoy it for another almost six years.

Adriana stays busy with Premier. She wrapped up the summer and the Alligator Art camp up with a tea set and a couple of paintings. Not sure if they’ve been in use yet, but they look study enough. Bella brought home pottery from her school – looks very nice.

Isabella started soccer again and will play their first match this coming Sunday. Seems like a solid team with a few extra players to spare when there are conflicting activities. We still haven’t seen the volleyball schedule – that is normally where the conflicts are.

Olivia and John enjoyed a dinner with the Schuhs and Chens at 31st Union in San Mateo. It’s a great little place that source the ingredients from local farmers. Highly recommended! Much has been focused on the school and all the day-to-day stuff that can’t possibly interest anyone – car service, dentist and hair cuts.

The Labor weekend is almost over. Adriana spent much of it with her dad. Pia spent it with a classmate and John and Isabella took off for Carmel. Good times on the water and hiking in the surrounding hills.

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Back home

Isabella came back Saturday after two weeks of summer camp at Walton’s Grizzly Lodge. She had had a great time – no sign of missing anyone except maybe for the first day or two. Mosquito bites and scratches show signs of an outdoor life, but hail and rain kept the campers inside from time to time.

Many campers were from San Francisco and Marin. Some even from Hillsborough. Good friends made so she’ll probably be busy connecting online with some of them since the lack of electronics while at camp made that impossible. She sounds like she’s ready to go back, but we’ll have to see about that come 2015.

John flew up there to pick her up. It was a pleasure flying alongside highway 80. 22 minutes is all it took from San Francisco to Reno but by going slightly the opposite direction and with check-in and all, they actually spent as much of the day traveling, as we would have in driving.

Isabella received many cards from friends and family and was very appreciative. Getting mail was her favorite part of her day and she sends her heartfelt gratitude!

John spent part of the week at a company meeting in Napa at the Meritage Resort and Spa. Nice place and very easy to get to from San Francisco. Good beer can chicken at the Bounty Hunter and ditto lunch at the Fremont Diner. The downtown area of Napa is looking much better although it doesn’t quite have the charm of e.g. St. Helena. He missed Penny’s birthday at the Paul Martin Grill on Tuesday, but Bella, Pia, Adrian and Olivia all celebrated her.

Friday Adriana had to say goodbye to Garcelle – her trusted nanny all summer long. Garcelle is going back to college starting this week, so Adriana will act as Olivia’s assistant until Saint Catherine’s is open for business in a couple of weeks. John and Adriana went night swimming in Penny and Adrian’s pool last night. No one seems to know where the lights are located; so all the light in the backyard came from the stars above (or the sun if you will…). She quickly fell asleep afterwards watching the Disney Bears movie.

Bella is back in school as the first of the four. She’s active with Cheer and is now on the final half of her high school years. She was followed to the door but a raccoon last night, but and ideas of close contact came to a quick end when Bella decided to scream from the car to the drive way. Easy to hear around the neighborhood in the middle of the night but no-one was concerned enough to call the police. At least not that we know of.

Pia is “enjoying” the summer workbook from school, but has made a pretty good dent in it. So much so that wrapping it up before school start is a realistic goal. She’s good at taking a break to make sure there are no new videos on YouTube she has not watched.

Olivia and John spent the past weekend in Carmel sans kids. Delicious dinner at the Moulin Bistro in Monterey Friday evening. They ended up at Carmel Valley Ranch for appetizers and s’mores Saturday evening and all of a sudden found themselves driving back Sunday – seemed much too soon. They relived some of their younger years earlier in the week rocking to Toto at the Mountain Winery. Toto were (still) surprisingly good nd they had much of the audience standing for the majority of the set.

Burlingame sadly seems determined on turning half of our street into restricted parking. A city hall meeting on Wednesday and a signed petition didn’t change the mind of the council members. While it won’t affect us in terms of permits, people will surely start to park closer to our home. It remains to be seen how much of a problem it will be, but it’s already tight with three cars in our driveway or on the street in front of the house.

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Walton’s Grizzly Lodge Summer Camp

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Bella finished her cheer camp late Monday morning with a show. Olivia and the girls were there to watch and the bunch of them went back to Casa Bellamia right after. They had good friends over for the next couple of days and enjoyed the surrounding incl. a new Xbox with Just Dance 2014. They were back in Burlingame Wednesday evening while John got back from Boston Thursday evening.

Adrian went in for a bit of surgery Friday morning and got home over the weekend. He’s doing very well and impressed the hospital on several occasions with his threshold for pain and determination. Like we didn’t know…

Isabella and John left early Saturday morning and went straight to Tahoe once there was coffee onboard the little Golf. They made it up there in 3.5 hours and decided to try the mouth watering pulled pork sandwiches on the porch. Most delicious and a good starter before heading down to Northstar Village only to take a ski lift back up to the first of two hikes (Sawmill Lake). Good little hike through the forrest ending up by a lake where the bass are so plentyful, that you can see them by the shore (when little kids don’t throw rocks in the lake).

After replenishing their fluids John and Isabella took another lift up to Sunset Loop. (More loop than sunset). Isabella had so much fun on the chair lift that she insisted on another couple of rides. Very slow going down, as the resort won’t let you sit in the open, and there are only a couple of gondolas. 90% of the people going up in the lift, ride mountain bikes down and while it looked like a lot of fun and like a good adrenaline rush, the $141/rental was a little too steep. John and Isabella got back to the hotel at 5:00 p.m. and spent 30 minutes trying to get the original skin color to come back from a very respectable layer of dust. Quick dinner, quick rest and off they went to partake in the Lake Tahoe Star Tour put on by Tony Berendsen. It was very informative and educational. Always good to see Saturn’s rings up close (sort of) but the highlight was watching the International Space Station float across the sky. Couldn’t tell if they returned the big smiles.

Sunday came around soon after Isabella arrived at the camp site at 12:00. She had to check in with the nurse and take a swim test in the lake. She was assigned the Kodiak cabin with a bunch of other “first timers” – far the majority of the campers seemed like they had been there before, but that’s probably already forgotten. Odd not to have contact with her for two weeks (no electronics are allowed). We are going to have to rely on the pony express getting letters to and from and we will feel a whole lot better when we hear a sign of life and know that she made a couple of friends.

Adriana’s been gone most of the weekend hanging out with her dad. Pia’s therefore found herself with a unusual amount of motherly love; which even included a sleepover in the Master Bedroom. It’s all come to an abrupt and was a bit of cold turkey but with travel and activities it’s likely to happen again sometime soon.

We have started to look at summer plans for 2015. It’s quite exciting that we are likely heading to Africa again. We are truly fortunate to have Adrian and Penny in our lives and there’s early excitement of another family trip coming up. Including the planning.

Whale watching in Monterey Bay

On Friday Bella took off for her annual Cheer camp in Santa Cruz – there was a total of 18 teams there. It’s hard work from early morning to late in the day. The Burlingame High School team got a Spirit award for the first time in four years. Congratulations! The whole thing is over Monday shortly after noon with a performance. All the rest of the females of our household will be in watching while John is on the East Coast.

The rest of us spent the weekend at Casa Bellamia in beautiful weather and surroundings. We went on a Monterey-based whale watching trip Saturday morning and saw more humpback whales than the guide could keep up with. They are very impressive animals but it would be so cool to see more than the 5% they seem comfortable occasionally keeping above the waterline. Maybe they are just shy given their size… Lots of sea lions and lots of dolphins. The water was fairly calm but some people still felt the need to refund their breakfast into the ocean. The five of us did great and other than occasionally feeling a little cold and getting a bit too much sun we had a great time.

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We made quick stops at Stevenson’s and Santa Catalina High Schools on the way back. Isabella is considering a boarding high school and while no decisions have been made, it might make sense to have her close enough that we would actually see her once in a while. She’s recuperating well since her oral surgery and have regained normal speech and the feeling in the tip of her tongue. Olivia took her for a checkup on Thursday and all looked well.

We had dinner at Carmel Valley Ranch Saturday evening. Beautiful place that we don’t visit often enough. Delicious local salmon and ditto deserts. John bumped into the Marketing Manager from the ranch a few weeks back and we were treated as VIPs all evening – Adriana is still trying to make sense of what that means but didn’t mind the attention.

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On Tuesday John, Olivia and our neighbor Kasey saw Lyle Lovett and his Large Band perform at the Mountain Vinery. Good show and surprisingly good food but it got very cold past sunset. We didn’t get back until 11:30 at night and had almost regained normal temperature after 45 minutes in the car. Adriana probably had the busiest week with gymnastics and summer camp. She’s got stung by a bee last week and a bit stayed inside the finger. Bella fished it out just before the it would have been necessary to go see a doctor.

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Slowly getting ready for Christmas

The house is ready for Christmas. The lights went up October 26. We are keeping it unplugged a little while longer. Not a popular decision with some of the habitants. We turned the lights on at Halloween although we were not quite in the mood this year given that we just came from our wedding. Pia dressed up as a nerd, Isabella as a dog, and Adriana as a flapper girl. Rain put a damper on the evening in general and the street were pretty empty earlier than usual.

The house on Cypress Avenue had 18 solar panels installed two weeks ago. Just in time for the darkest months of the year… We started the process in June and had definitely hoped to be up and running, but it was a little bit of a chess game to get the city to approve the drawings and although they did approved them in the end, they found something else they would like modified. We are not really in the loop, but it’s annoying to wait. Once the city is happy PGE has 30 days to install a bi-directional meter, so chances a working solar system will be one of the Christmas presents this year.

A big thank you to the many that helped us celebrate our wedding during the weekend of October 26 and 27. We had 18 visitors from Denmark, one from Holland (these are actually not the same countries) and three from England. Plus of course a whole bunch from all over the US.

We decided to postpone the honeymoon so we could celebrate with the ones who stayed a little longer and had a wonderful hike with Karsten and Kirstine in the Pinnacles but also great dinners with Jesper and Pernille and Alice, Olivia and Lorraine. Priceless memories!

Visit from Denmark

We were in Carmel last weekend while the car show was on. We didn’t go – there were enough expensive cars on the streets to satisfy any enthusiast. We didn’t see the record-breaking 16.4 Million dollar Ferrari, and we therefore didn’t bid on it ;-)

This weekend we went with John’s dad and Birgit who are visiting from Denmark. We started at Point Lobos Friday evening and had quite a full schedule until we drove back to Burlingame early Sunday evening. Throughout the weekend we had plenty of chances to see fog and clouds but the sun did come out in the afternoon.

We made it to the aquarium as well and had a nice dinner at Cafe Rustica but nothing much was planned other than to get rid of the jetlag.

The Danes are here until end-of September so we’ll sure be back with more.

School’s out for summer

Olivia and John went to Kris Mendell’s surprise birthday party on June 4. Disco-themed but the Travolta tunes were not enough to fight the jetlag still lingering from the trip to South Africa. Beautiful setting for her party – well done Eric – at the California Golf Club in South San Francisco. An early night meant all were ready to help at the San Francisco Food Bank Sunday morning. The whole team did great and we packed almost 900 boxes of food for those in need. We’re back August 14 – come and help!

Pia and Isabella took their second puberty class on June 7 and had lots of fun doing so! They were laughing so hard on the way home that it was impossible to understand anything… The girls all got out of school June 8 and they were very much looking forward to it. We are extremely fortunate that they all got First Honors! Well, Adriana didn’t but she’s a smart little cookie and her sisters will help make sure she’ll achieve grades at the same level.

Isabella, Olivia and John spent the following weekend in Carmel Valley and Monterey together with Adrian and Penny plus Olivia’s brother Dave and his family. We went to see the Monterey Pier, the Denise the Menace park and later drove south to Ventana for lunch and to see how Highway 1 was doing.


John had to be at the San Francisco airport early Sunday morning, so the little Golf went straight from Fresh Cream to Burlingame. John had signed up for a week-long photography class in San Diego and spent the entire week at the University of San Diego. Those dorm rooms are not as charming as they sometimes look but the instructor and class was great and John returned late Friday just in time for Olivia to spoil him to a Diana Krall concert at the Mountain Vinery in Saratoga. A wonderful Father’s Day present.


Visit from Denmark

We’ve had Hans Ole, Trine, Villas and Mathilde visiting the last couple of weeks. We were able to spend both weekends with them – one in Burlingame and one in Carmel. We met up in Carmel after they’d driven up from L.A. Sadly Highway 1 is still closed around Big Sur, so they had to turn right after San Louis Obispo and take 101 north missing one of the most beautiful roads in the world. We went to see the Monterey fish Saturday morning but mostly spent time just relaxing. It was great to see the kids play together even though they didn’t understand what the other person said.

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Isabella and her class had a field trip to Filoli. She received her third “First Honors” certificate which is fantastic and all the girls got good grades. Well, maybe no Adriana but she would if Montessori handed them out that early. We’re glad they don’t. Bella’s been participating in the track competitions and returned with three prizes on Sunday for finishing first, second and third in three different races. Well done!

John finished his recertification and went flying on his own early Friday morning. Beautiful area to fly in and the mornings is a great time to see the Bay Area from above.

We celebrated Lyne’s birthday on April 14 with both song and cake. Isabella’s preparing quite the binder with memorabilia – very comforting how well she’s handling that period of her life.

Lastly a shout out to Chris and Kara: The Bellamy family grew on March 31. Colton Scott Bellamy was born in Santa Barbara. The girls got a chance to meet him last weekend – everybody agrees that he’s adorable.

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Happy fifth

Last week brought a long awaited visit to see Moses. His birthday was January 9 so Olivia, Isabella and John went to congratulate him. He’s in top form and seems as happy as ever. Still hanging out with his girlfriend, but she doesn’t join him and Skip at the boy scout camp in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Lots of fur but still recognizable. Great to know that he’s in such good hands and that he’s getting lots of attention from the visitors at camp.

Katie, Geoff and the boys visited from Arizona on Friday. It was great to see them and to continue to work on an old business plan John and Geoff’s been chewing on for a couple of years. Nothing that will make us millionaires but a good niche that will keep our four-legged friends entertained.

Isabella’s losing teeth by the minute it seems. The molars is departing the mouth almost daily. The tooth fairy is seeking financial aide. It’s all good as the last x-ray showed new teeth just waiting to break free. Adriana has been fighting an ear infection but is on the mend. Luckily she’s very happy to take her “medi”.

John’s on his way back from a sales conference in Miami. Nice temperatures, good colleagues and beloved thunder – we don’t get much of that at home.