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.

Return to Oahu

Isabella invited a couple of friends – Katie and Hannah – to Carmel this weekend. After spending Saturday morning at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and eating shrimp at Bubba Gump they spent the afternoon at Del Monte Mall buying little things for the closets at home. Nothing like resting in the hot tub after a day of shopping. It all got topped off with s’mores at Carmel Valley Ranch.

John and Olivia took off for Hawaii Friday February 20 and enjoyed five nights at the condominium there before they (sadly) had to return. Not too many activities planned – pure relaxation but they did madk it around the island. Lunch at Seven Brothers Burgers – definitely worth a stop if you’re heading that way. Olivia got a massage at the Kalaha Hotel while John made it to the top of Koko Head Crater – only 1,000 steps but still a hard climb.

John got stuck in New York only a few days later. Heavy snow fall made it impossible for planes to take off and he had to spend a vey short night in Times Square before finally making it out Monday morning.

Tough weeks for the school teams in Basketball. Both Burlingame High School and Saint Catherine’s are out after making it to the quarterfinals. So no more cheer this season except for Adriana who’s still going strong with her Premier team.

Happy birthday(s)

Bella turned 17 on January 6 and was celebrated by classmates and family. Isabella’s birthday is February 9 and the extended family had her birthday dinner at Benihana last night – a little early, but conflicting schedules moved the festivities up a bit. Adriana is next.

John spent a bit of time in Las Vegas from January 3rd. The Consumer Electronics Show seems to get bigger and bigger even though the announcements weren’t that significant this year. Through Akamai he hosted 120 people on January 5th and oversaw all of Akamai’s activities there.

Last Friday Pia and Isabella went to the Junior high dance at their school and danced from start to finish together with the sixth and seventh graders. The Drama activities are in full swing and the production of “Shrek” is already taking up some of the afternoons. Isabella will once again be active off stage.

With the exception of Santa Catalina (Monterey) All the high school applications as done and so are the entrance tests. Now it’s a waiting gaming until early March.

Adriana, Pia and Bella are all active with cheerleading – Bella and Pia are cheering for the boy’s basketball teams for their respective schools.

Two days plus change in Copenhagen

John arrived in Copenhagen Friday December 12 via Reykjavik. The weather was almost identical to both Burlingame and Boston – wet, windy and with storm warnings. The flights from Boston to Copenhagen were fairly uneventful and IcelandAir proved to be quite a nice airline where the economy plus seats had plenty of space.

John met his mom at a Hans Christian Andersen themed restaurant for lunch shortly after landing and enjoyed a couple of hours of catching up while munching on open faced Danish sandwiches. After that it was off to see Hanne and Johannes’ new house in Holte – a very nice, open and modern house but the real treat was to catch up with good friends in person (and the seafood lasagne – most yummy!).

Saturday brought a long standing tradition seeing good friends in Copenhagen for Christmas lunch. But this year the seven guys jumped on a hired bus early in the morning and drove around the northern part of Sealand and within Copenhagen to visit the families of the boys. They’ll have to think of something for next year, so Olivia and the girls can be part of it. It was great to meet everyone and say Merry Christmas. Maybe a new tradition in the making? They had the actual Christmas lunch at Schønnemann in the center of Copenhagen – highly recommended if you ever find yourself looking for a traditional Danish smorgasbord.

John finished off the quick Denmark visit having dinner with Mogens and Birgit. Equally good to catch up with a delicious dinner and in nice surroundings.


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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Garage sale weekend

Yesterday we had our first garage sale ever. Strollers, clothes, furniture and other goodies went on the block. Olivia and the girls did very well before the activities got shut down by rain. Amazingly it decided to pour down late morning, and we all had to scramble before the last few things were back under cover. Adriana sold lemonade and cookies on the sideline and cleaned out herself. There are a few things left which will be donated or just given away.

It’s be a couple of busy weeks. We were lucky to see Jesper and Pernille for dinner at Kincaids last Thursday. They’ve been touring California together with Pernille’s parents. John flew to L.A. last Saturday for a photo workshop that turned out to be largely a waste of time and money. He flew back late Sunday evening after sitting on the runway for a couple of hours due to fog in the Bay Area. Good old Akamai saw the busiest day in its history this past Wednesday when the latest iPhone update was released. The software is delivered via the Akamai network and all went smoothly.

Adriana continues to take gymnastics classes a couple of times during the week, while Pia and Isabella have started Volleyball. Bella is still active with Cheerleading.

Fish is in the oven and waiting for Penny’s arrival while Adrian is trying to break yet another record for most air miles accrued in the shortest time possible.

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Summer travel – 2013

The six of us left for Denmark on June 26 on the direct flight to Copenhagen. Had fantastic weather while we walked about town trying to stay up until it got at least a little bit darker. Walked through Tivoli and enjoyed sharwarma on “Strøget” before we took the Metro back to the hotel. Slept well and was ready to meet John’s mom in Tivoli for lunch the day after. Had a great lunch at Cafe Ultimo and it was good for the girls to finally meet that side of John’s family.

Friday evening was the day before John turned 40 (again…) and we celebrated it together with 30 other people at “Grøften” in Tivoli. Great times and it was good to see so many of our friends. Thanks to all that showed up! We eventually got kicked out around midnight and we were all very tired on the train ride back to the airport.

Left for Stockholm on June 29 and the group mushroomed into 20 people in just a few hours. Some left for their room, some for an early dinner, while Olivia and John snug away to celebrate a bit of birthday on their own.

We had a great guide from “Stockholm our way” taking us around the Swedish capital and we spent most of June 30 sightseeing. We visited the city hall, the old town, Djurgaarden, and of course Vasa – or the remains.

We boarded the Seven Seas Voyager on July 1 and set “sails” for Helsinki. Walked into town and saw the Lutheran Cathedral, the Uspenski Cathedral and the very impressive Rock Church. Still don’t understand much of what they say, but beautiful harbor front and once again the weather showed a very nice side of itself.

The longest stop on the trip was St. Petersburg – we stayed a total of three days, and as none of held Russian visas, we had to stay with the pre-arranged tours. St. Petersburg is an amazing place and the art collection and palaces are well worth a visit. John and Olivia had signed up for a Metro trip into the city and got to walk a bit around on the last day. First land-based cafe latte in days. Good stuff!

Tallinn was one of the biggest surprises of the trip. Very charming city and all had a great time in the old town. Some went walking – some took the mountain bike tour. We were there on a Saturday and really enjoyed the old stalls. Only John made it up in the church tower; which for many years were the tallest structure in the world. We passed the beautiful monument for the 852 people who died on September 28, 1994 when the Estonia ferry catastrophe happened.

We arrived in Riga the day after together with about 5,000 singers from all over Latvia and found ourselves in the middle of an event that only happens every five years. All the beautiful costumes and flowers really lit up the city and it was amazing to hear the choirs sing and celebrate mid-summer. Riga itself was very charming and we were once more very lucky with the weather.

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Gdansk was next on the list and with that a visit to a WWII concentration camp (Stuffhoff). Always a very somber experience but good for the kids to see. We spent a few hours in Gdansk itself and got to see St. Mary’s Church which can hold 25,000 people, and also got to see some of the shipyard sites where the Lech Walesa and many others changed Poland forever.

Short stop in Rønne which is the main city on Bornholm – an island belonging to Denmark. Not too much to see as the stop was relatively short by we found hotdogs, ice cream and beer. Walked the streets and bought some pottery – it’s the thing to do. The island is nicknamed “The Sunshine Island” and although the fog started rolling in just before takeoff, the morning was gorgeous.

From Bornholm to Warnemunde where we quickly jumped in a bus and drove to Berlin. We had only six hours there and they quickly disappeared by the time we have seen the Brandenburger Tor, Checkpoint Charlie and large sections of The Wall. Mixed success with the lunches but Haribo candy was a complete hit both coming and going.

We were back in Copenhagen July 11 and got picked up in a tiny bus that had no room for our luggage. But we made the best of it, and got dropped in the middle of Copenhagen. Made it up the Round Tower before rickshaws picked us up and took us sightseeing. Great lunch in the King’s Garden that was organized but The kids loved being back on the shore and ran around until the very last minutes of the day. The first evening ended at Stick’n’Sushi.

Day two took us to Frederiksborg Castle – stunning and using funds from Carlsberg, the castle has been beautifully restored after a fire destroyed large parts of it. We had lunch at Restaurant Sletten in a small Danish harbor and gave everyone the afternoon off to relax or do a bit of shopping. We were lucky to get a private room at Cafe Ultimo for our last dinner together, and most of us stayed in Tivoli until the very end. Many left for San Francisco the following morning while the other half stayed behind for a few more days.

We so appreciate Adrian and Penny’s generosity and feel incredibly lucky that they let us experience the world together as a group.

Congratulations on making it to the end. There are pictures here.

I do!

There are no words that can describe our gratitude when it comes to our wedding. We loved every minute of the weekend. Many have told us what a wonderful time they had; which warms our hearts and souls. It even sounds like a few are planning trips to Denmark to see if the Danes presence was a fair representation of the happiest nation in the world.

A big thank you to the many that was there to celebrate us during the weekend of October 26 and 27. In short 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 had an absolutely fantastic weekend in with many of our friends and family on October 26 and 27. Thanks you!

Much love,
Olivia & John