Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Miami and Jam Cruise

In the fifteen months Esther and i have been parents, we've only left Jordan twice for any significant length of time. The first was the Philippines in November, and Esther's mom said he did great. No problems, no fuss, no major events. Our second was to Miami for a few days before Jam Cruise, and my parents took care of him.

We left on January 1st and spent three days in Miami, escaping Chicago just before the polar vortex (it even has a wikipedia page).  We spent most of our time in South Beach, enjoying the vast selection of delicious food and expensive shopping. It's a very trendy area, filled with beautiful people, nice cars, and tourists. The only time we ventured out of that bubble was an afternoon in Little Havana. The people we met there were incredibly friendly and i spoke a little Spanish, which came more easily than expected.

On Jan 4th, we embarked on our real vacation: Jam Cruise.  Neither of us had ever been on a cruise, but after this, i couldn't imagine any other kind.  Imagine a floating five star hotel with a music festival attached.  The boat had a gym, a casino, a spa, a few dance clubs, and 7 different music venues scattered around the ship.  Roughly fifty bands played several shows each over 5 days.  There was music from 11am until 6am daily, often two or three shows happening simultaneously.  The buffet was excellent, diverse, and available around the clock.  It was so good that i was literally never hungry.  Even when it was time to eat, i was still full from the previous meal, but i would join Esther who is once again eating for two (see what i did there?).
Pool stage from the second level.

Keller and the Kimocks in the Pantheon Theater
Piano Sets in the atrium
The Infamous Stringdusters
John Popper, DJ Logic, George Porter Jr., Stanley Jordan, and Adam Deitch 
Thievery Corporation 
Cruise Day 3, we stopped in Falmouth Jamaica for an afternoon and found some friends to hang with for a few hours.  We shared a cab for $20 R/T per person to a beach about 10 minutes away.  Once there, we all paid $10 a person to stay at the beach.  Add the $3 for each red stripe and we spent about $80. Many people just slept in, but now at least we can say we have been to Jamaica.
Rainy, but still kinda Jamaizing™
On Day 5, we pulled up to the Bahamas for a day.  The intention was to actually get off the boat and pile onto a private island for a solo set from Warren Haynes, but the waves were too choppy.  Instead, we just gazed upon what appeared to be a really, really sweet island.


We met a lot of interesting people on the boat.  By far the most random coincidence was meeting these two, Emily and Steven.

So we were dancing near each other at a show and she leans over to ask me who i play for. I wonder if she thinking i'm a musician, but i quickly realize i'm wearing an ultimate frisbee shirt so i tell her, i play in China. We get to talking more and it turns out we have a lot in common: they live in Colorado, about 15 minutes from my house; she plays frisbee with a bunch of my friends from Boulder; he has a sister living in Hangzhou and will visit her this year. Small, small world. We proceeded to party over the next few days.

Oh, and when we returned back home, our little boy was so happy to see us, but he had been totally fine with his grandparents while we were gone.

~Kev

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Reitzmas 2013

Jorkevstherdan made the long voyage back to Chicago for a five week visit this winter.  We timed the trip perfectly, missing Hangzhou's worst pollution and also catching its best fall weather.

J-dizzle was significantly harder to travel with this time around.  Last year he slept peacefully most of the way. This time on the plane, he wanted to explore.  He managed to sleep for about 6 of the 13 hours, but that meant a fussy kid for 7. At one point i took him back to the steward galley and let him play with the drink cart for an hour. He kept grabbing the little bottles of vodka and screaming. He was hilarious. The flight attendants loved him.  We did our best as exhausted parents to entertain him, and we all arrived safely.

Reitzmas was chaos as always, since 19 of us are hard to corral.  Jordan was a hit with all the family.  We had to baby-proof the house, so the Christmas tree ended up decorated with stuffed animals.
My Dad bought Jordan a hat from the country of Jordan.

He has evolved so much in just a month. He is much more mobile now and he understands basic commands. He basically did great adapting to his new surroundings, although he still had a few accidents.  He tumbled down a flight of carpeted stairs one time before we set the gate up, but luckily he just bumped his head a little.  Another time he was running and tripped, chipping his head off the corner of a wall. It swelled up immediately and he cried for two minutes, then he was back to normal.
Check out that egg on his forehead.
In Jordan's free time, he enjoy's piling animals upon a sleeping mom.
We spent most of December with my family in Chicago, but we took one trip down to St. Louis to visit my oldest brother's family. Their two awesome kids Erin and Nathan entertained Jordan the whole time. It was pretty cold so we basically just stayed indoors and played. But that was fine with us, Reitzmas is all about family.
video

 January was a whole different adventure.  Next post soon, i hope!
~Kev

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Boracay

Esther and I went to the Philippines this November for our first extended trip without Jordan.  Her parents watched him for 9 days while we got some much needed rest.  Jordan did great without us, sleeping, eating and playing normally.  We checked in everyday at first, but soon realized he was going to be fine.  While we missed him fantastically, we were able to relax.

We spent three days at the Manila Spirits Ultimate Frisbee Tournament.  On Friday, our men's team from China dominated everyone and won our second straight title.  I played with Bear Ninja Cowboy for coed on Saturday and Sunday.  We were plagued with heat stroke and, in one case, debilitating alcohol poisoning, so we didn't have as many guys as we needed.  We underperformed, but had a great time.

Monday morning, Esther and I set off for Boracay.  We had both been there before, separately, and our experience this time was much different.  You know how people talk about going to a beautiful island and just sitting on the beach and relaxing? ...but then they end up busy everyday and they come home needing a vacation from their vacation?  Well for our trip, we literally did nothing, everyday, and it was amazing.  People really should do less more often.

For our weeklong stay, most days followed the same basic blueprint.  We get up lazily and maybe lie around in the hammock on our bungalow’s balcony sipping coffee.  If we don't grab banana-bacon pancakes at our resort, we probably head off to Real Coffee for pesto and tuna omelets.
View from Real Coffee
After breakfast we'd walk along the beach and explore the rocks, maybe stop at Jonah's for Boracay's legendary fruit shake.

 We almost always ended up at White House Resort in the afternoon for happy hour.  Most of the frisbee players from the tournament end up there and we spend the day drinking, chatting, swimming, playing frisbee, and napping.  It's perfect.

Our last day there, we ended up taking a sailboat out to watch the sunset.  The water was so clear we saw straight down to the ocean floor, even a few kilometers out. It was a gorgeous night, and we sailed for 45 minutes as the colors changed until the sky filled with stars. 

After dinner, we'd head out for a few cocktails. With no particular place in mind, we wandered along the beach and listened to the dozen different bands playing at the beach bars. When we found one we liked, we kicked off our sandals and listened to live music, sat in the sand and sipped cold drinks.

Our friends went cliff jumping and island hopping, etc.  We were just happy to be together, on vacation, and on a beautiful island.  It was truly the most relaxing vacation i've ever had.

~Kev