Sunday, August 23, 2015

Happy Birthday Jimmy and Sue

For the last 14 years we've had a tradition of celebrating Jimmy and Sue's birthdays together. Jimmy's birthday is 8/22 and Sues is 8/23.  Usually we get them tickets to a sporting event (Twins, Blue Jays, etc) this year is no exception - the Vikings were playing a pre-season game at The Bank. Sue was excited because she's never been to that stadium and Jimmy was just excited to see the Vikings.  Unfortunately, they decided not to attend the game because of weather (tornado and thunderstorm) warnings. Probably good they didn't go since the stadium was evacuated 3 times and delayed 90 minutes. BUT...Vikings did prevail and won.   Although, we know from past experience that preseason play is NO predictor of how they'll play in season.  Instead Sue (bless her heart) offered to take Jimmy and 2 of his best friends bowling and for dinner. They bowled 3 games and watched the Vikings game on TV in the sports bar. Overall still a pretty good birthday:)

We started the celebrations Friday night with pasta, meatballs and brownies (Sue's favorites) and then lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch with Grandma Kay and Grandpa Jeremiah (Jimmy's choice). In typical teenage fashion, Jimmy was VERY particular about what he wanted for his birthday and so ended up with 4 Ralph Lauren pocket tee shirts, a Ralph Lauren bucket hat, cash and a Clemson Nike shirt. Overall a pretty sweet birthday.

On the morning of his birthday Kay woke up and said ... is he 14 now?  urghhh....
When we asked why that response, her reply - only 1 year until he's driving and 2 years until he gets his drivers liscence, I'm not ready for that!  (us either Kay, us either)

The festivities also included a sleep over with Miles, James and Anders, pizza, wings, cupcakes and a few gallons of chocolate milk. Teenage boys. They stayed up until 5:30am and Tracy got up for work a mere 30 min's later.  Again ..teenage boys. I think summer has made them nocturnal.         

Jimmy, you are a fun, sweet, smart, kind, passionate, talented and funny person. You are a great friend, good student, coachable athlete and helpful.  Don't change. We love you just the way you are! (and, if you can put off the hard teenage years for a few more years, we'd appreciate it!  A huge thanks to the village that loves and nutures Jimmy ( Grandmas and Grandpas, Aunts, Uncles and cousins, teachers, coaches, birth mom/dad, foster mom/dad, doctors, social workers, friends, godparents, neighbors, his friends parents, the list goes on and on.  THANK YOU! We love you all and are so blessed by each of your in our and Jimmy's life.  We love you Jimmy to the end of the earth and back.

In other news, Kay and Billy both need glasses. Kay is opting for contacts and Billy glasses. Of course Kay has the whole contact thing down in 30 seconds flat and Billy loves wearing his new glasses. They are too cute.










Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The fun and chaos of family

Our weekend was super fun, and crazy and hectic and loud ... as only it can be when you have 10 people in your house another 2 down the road at the local Super8.
 
Tracy's parents and sister Tammy's family was in town for 5 days for Georgia's zone swimming meet.  You need to qualify for zones and its a step above state. Georgia qualified in 7 events but swam in 6 since you are limited to 2 events per day. The meet as at the U of M and the facilities were amazing!! A 50 meter pool, impressive. She did really well, shaving time off her best times and even placing 4th and getting to stand on the podium. We are VERY impressed.
 
Tammy, Jeff and Grandma/Grandpa spent most of the weekend shuttling back and forth from our house to the U. No easy feat with the state of road construction going on in MPLS right now and I think each drive was an adventure in map reading and getting to know the lay out of MPLS back roads. But, they were troopers and there for everyone of Georgias big events.
 
The rest of (our family and Joey/Herbie) kept busy with lemonade stands, a trip to the ropes course/zip line at the Mall of America, a killer game of "family" outside with the neighborhood kids, 3 games of the world series (again with the neighbors) - played in our backyard and commentated play by play by Jimmy, the movie (& dinner) Inside Out (get ready to cry), bonfires, celebrating Tammy/Jeff's 17th anniversary and full blown sleep overs every night in Billy's room.  (note to self, letting 4 kids ages 10-12 sleep in the same room, 4 nights in a row is a recipe for disaster and a hangover for EVERYONE involved)  
 
We ate great food (hamburger grill out and lasagna - but not as good as Jim Fellows) and even had a fun "game" of ...finish Grandmas joke (as context, Grandma tells the same jokes over and over so every time she went to tell one, the kids tried to beat her to the punch line),
 
In the midst of all of this Tom (with math help on angles from Tracy) build the biggest, most sturdy 12 person picnic table you have ever seen. Seriously, if there is a tornado, we are all taking shelter under this thing. It literally weighs more than 2 people can lift and will be a permanent fixture on our deck for a LONG time. We both love it and our happiness is proportional to the pain/frustration in making it and struggling through leg angles and lengths. but... as Dora would say - we did it!!        
 
 
By the time Monday rolled around, we were all exhausted but as Joey said when he got home - Wow, that was a fun weekend:)  Another notch in "the perfect summer" for our kids....
 
 
Family rocks.
 
 
 
Billy zipline

Herbie zipline

Kay zipline

Ropes course at the ceiling of Mall of America 

The worlds most awesome picnic table

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

KCC-2015

Once again the greatest week of the year is upon us and the kids a super ready! Korean Culture Camp, better know as KCC, is a week long Korean love fest. The kids all have friends that they spend the days learning about all things Korean, however the favorite part of the week for most of the campers is the FOOD!













Minnehaha Academy, a Catholic school in Minneapolis is the host for the event. This year sort of like in Hotel rooms, they left some New Testaments laying around and Jimmy "found one". This was his first year of not being a camper but being a Teen Helper, which is the goal of every kid that comes to camp, and he loved it. Every night however he would comment on how different it was being a helper and not a camper.




 He was responsible for a group of 8 Kindergarten kids, and he lucked out because his partner was non other then Shin Bee. So in his downtime in the classroom he began reading Proverbs from the aforementioned, stolen Bible. We informed him that starting out  learning about the Catholic Faith,was probably not a good idea stealing the Bible number one and number two reading Proverbs. His comment was " Highly Detailed and Confusing reading."











Kay enjoyed her final year as a camper, making paper machete masks, doing dance and having a blast. She had several friends she would hang out with during lunch and always was smiling. She had a partner in crime again this year, Lesia, who rode to camp with us everyday and hung out after with Kay. The two of them would talk about boy bands, hair color and the latest in nail polish, girl stuff.












Billy had it all going on this year, and was the center of attention in his classroom, which says quite a bit for our introvert. He was able to show case some of his skills during Taekwondo Camp, and was a tad disappointed in the lack of Pokémon enthusiasts among the 4C homeroom. He was way deep into Pokémon last year and had all his cards with him everyday, just in case.





















The kitchen was awesome as ever however this year there was one thing missing, drama! There was no real food related drama, except a small discussion regarding the boiling of Chap Chae noodles which when resolved went Tom's way,, very pleased. The menu each year is pretty much the same, Bulgogi, Chap Chae, chicken wings, chicken Bulgogi, and Mandu, along with a pallet of rice and somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 gallons of Kimchee, the kids flock to the Kitchen like Bee's to Honey, Fabulous!























We ended the week with a family bike ride to a local restaurant and then up to Brook view golf course and lawn bowling to watch a movie, Big Hero Six, outside on a big screen, while eating popcorn and laying on blankets, cozy and fun!








The kids are already counting down until next year, always a fun time ...more to come..

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Happy Birthday Kay- Part 3

Kay is the queen of extending her birthday every year she some how manages to have at least 2 if not 3 separate parties and of course she is the center of attention, And this year was no different.

This past Saturday she had a sleepover party with 5 of her besties and the birthday theme was another original Kay idea. She was able to come to this years Golf for the Gift tournament and was enamored with the silent auction event. So this year for her birthday she had a silent auction/restaurant dining experience/movie party. The other thing Kay incorporated into the event was fake money. Each girl was given &700.00 ( which may seem like a lot however it was exactly the amount that came in the package ). Then the kids had to pay for their dinner & drinks as well as have enough money left for the auction.

We gave Kay a budget and she set off making lists organizing the menu and settling all the details. She shopped at several discount stores searching for the key items for the auction and then hit Target for the final items and dinner menu. She did a great job and came in pretty much on budget. The auction items were things like lip gloss, hand sanitizer, ear buds, make-up & lip stick, you get the idea, GLAMOUR!!!

Tracy and Angela were the waitress and Tom was the Chef, the menu was quite extensive. Kay wanted all the girls to sit around the table and visit while Tracy and Angela took their orders and waited on them, she wanted the wait time for their meals to be about 20 minutes, just like in a restaurant. The dinner finished up and while the restaurant staff was cleaning up the girls all went up to the park, why not?



Then the auction began. Tracy was the auctioneer and Angle was the bid controller and the frenzy ensued. They girls all had different strategies, saving their money for the big final item, bidding high right off the bat to scare away any potential bidders, it was fun. The next morning one of the girls commented " I cant believe I paid $20 dollars for lip gloss! what was I thinking?"
After the auction the ice-cream cake came out and the presents were opened again the girls were very thoughtful with the gifts and loved the cake.

Then it was off to the basement for a gigantic sleepover, movie and home made popcorn for one of the presents Kay got at an earlier b-day party. Of one the girls gave Kay a selfie stick which they used non-stop until Tom's iPhone shut down with to may pictures! The girls all had breakfast and headed home on Sunday, it was an great party and the theme was a hit, so much so Kay cant wait for her birthday next year to do it all over again!
Happy Birthday Kay, we love you!!!
more to come....







Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Happy 4th of July!!!!

A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam born on the 4th of July, sorry I have that song stuck in my head.

The Loudamericans plus Nikki loaded into the Pilot and headed east towards Clintonville, WI, to join several of our ex-pat friends, their dogs and Paul's family for a real down home small town 4th of July. The drive was rather uneventful until around hour 4 when the kids started to have the need to eat, and while for the most part they are adventurous eaters, it is hard to stop when you are surrounded by cornfields and yard gnomes. However we lucked out as Tracy spotted the Pigeon River Brewing Company, a solution for all. We ordered a flight of beers and some food and settled back and relaxed. The flight came with an extra surprise, root beer, which was the best of all. The food cam and was awesome and we indulged our selves and got a growler of IPA and one of Root beer to go.

The hotel was a nice little small town affair complete with a little convenience store and a bar. The group all arrived around the same time checked in and then headed out to the farm to hang out and catch up. The Balthazar's are a super laid back, friendly and awesome family. They no longer run a dairy farm however they still plant cash crops and Paul's mom and dad still farm the land. Paul decided one day that he needed to update the barn so he put in a half court, NBA regulation basketball court along with a weight room in the loft. Jimmy was in heaven playing basketball with Paul's nephew Daniel and the two became fast friends, playing B-ball, volleyball and Frisbee.
Kay took advantage of the space to practice gymnastics and to do pull-up's, while Billy tended to the 6 dogs and 5 cats, which were newly born and needed to have their eyes cleaned and basically needed love which Billy has in spades!

Friday night dinner was a good old fashioned Shrimp Boil with all the fixings and several cold beers!
The group had a ball and we finished the night with a bonfire and relating stories and sharing what we all have been up to, it's a great  bunch and we all had a blast. The group headed back to the hotel for a night cap and to make plans for Saturday, which was the 4th!

Saturday morning found the Loudamericans moving a bit slow, so the rest of the group had breakfast and headed out tot he farm to get organized for the day, the Loudamericans had other plans. This was farm country and to us that means two things, Rodeo's and Rummage Sales, yep a little R&R was in order, and the kids were hysterical. We map quested rummage sales and made a map and headed out, it was super fun. We acquired several treasures along the way including but not limited to, a curling iron, miniature foosball table, a couple of dozen multi colored shot glass, a square cast iron pan, treasures all!

Welcome to the Midwest Region Rodeo, please stand for the pledge of Allegiance! The thundering hoofs, flags whipping in the wind the Star Bangle banner proved to much for Nikki as she tried to jump the fence and heard the horses!!! We had to laugh when the started the biggest redneck competition, and people were drinking beer two at a time when this one redneck want to be jumped into the ring and did the worm in the dirt, horse poop, ect for a lousy t-shirt, which of course brought the house down, augh, the rodeo. We should have bought the t-shirt that said, wait for it...This is our first Rodeo...

Saturday afternoon we meet up with everyone back at the farm. The afternoon was full of typical 4th if July fun, water fights, volleyball, Frisbee and a BBQ, complete with several types of salad, brats, hotdogs, burgers, cold beer and potato salad, a virtual feast of summer fun. The dogs got to run and play with abandon while the Dad's beat the boys in Volleyball, best of one, no rematch!
 The night brought out the pyrotechiqnes and about $1000 worth of fireworks. The show went on for about an hour then was followed with light several Chinese lanterns, which were in every color and awesome. The grand finale was the bonfire, but this was not you typical bonfire. The base was a few dozen dried and burning pine logs onto which was tossed an oak pallet filled with 20 or so Christmas wreaths, just to get things going. Onto that was the tossed about a dozen or so Christmas tress, yes it was beyond hot and the fact we all still have our eyebrows is a testament to well our good upbringing I guess.

We all headed out around mid-night sweaty, covered in bug spay and hot pine tar full of great food and great friends. It was a great small town 4th of July and the Loudamericans are grateful to all who came and for all the goodness these folks bring into our lives.

The Loudamericans like to travel in a non-stop kind of mode, meaning fill the car, eat and don't stop till we get home. So in order to accomplish that we need a quick lunch stop and the Rocks for Fun Café fit the bill. This place is a cross between a sci-fi/ twilight zone nightmare and the kitchen on the Brady Bunch, scary on both accounts. The owner Don McClellan will entertain you for the entire 3 minutes it takes for them to make you food which is one thing severed 30+  ways, however none with ketchup, the Pasty. The he will regale you with jokes and stories about rocks, how his marriage has been on the rocks for over 30 years, a rock that is off the moon, careful here not a moon rock just a rock that is not on the moon, you get the drift, on and then for a mere $ 2.99 a Pasty if you buy 100 or www.rocksforfun.com more you can take them home, he even has those Styrofoam coolers that sit in back of the car and squeak all the way home driving you nuts! You can view this collection of rocks valued at $2,884,732.66 at his shop or here at
Happy 4th to everyone!!














Saturday, July 11, 2015

Best. Birthday.Ever!

No truer words have been spoken by Kay on her 12th birthday. It truly was the best birthday ever.
To start it off? 4 hours of gymnastics practice, she made caramel apples as a treat and quickly headed home to get changed for her date afternoon with Tracy.

They headed out for an afternoon of surprises.

1st stop - lunch.  Tracy has been dying to take care to the only authentic French bistro in MPLS and it didn't disappoint. They have crepes, gelato, traditional sipping chocolate and even bahn mi sandwiches. The owner is French and Kay ordered a caprese crepe while Tracy had a SUPER spicy tofu siracha bahn mi sandwich. Kay loved all of it and and of course ate all the whipped cream off her hot chocolate 1st:

Next step, quick run to Target for a few things. We totally lucked out and there were handing out free samples in the beauty section and Kay declared them her 1st official presents of the day.  We looked for rompers, tried on hats and even got a picture with Spot (the Target dog).

As we were wandering back to the car, we stopped in the Target Commons Plaza (think of this as a gigantic living room, game room for Target team members) for a game of bean bag toss and a frozen treat. Neither of us could make a score but it was really fun.

Finally, the big surprise .... drum roll....off to Donna to get a turquoise strip put in Kay's hair.  We ended up splurging and getting her tips done too. Its hard to see in pictures but really cute in the sunlight. She did a great job of being patient through the bleaching and coloring process and we shared a chia latte. I also got a new cut - Donna calls it shattered. I think its sort of Joan Jett and Jimmy says I look like an '80's pop star. Mission accomplished!

Then, off to dinner at Mirror of Korea where we feasted and feasted and shared updates with Mrs Choi (man is she a good cook!) The kids pictures are all still posted and it so fun to visit, feels like home.        

By the time we got home, it was time for the present scavenger hunt. Tom did a great job of writing out clues and Kay was off at a sprint looking for her gifts (with Billy right behind her). They found them all and the "big" present was the ultimate hit, a professional popcorn maker. 

We closed out the day with red velvet cake, a toast and food network - Diners Drive Ins and Dives.

Seriously, it doesn't get any better than this:)

Kay, you are fierce, funny, strong, brave, creative, loving, generous and a total goofball. We love you!!