Friday, July 25, 2014

Summer Camp and TKD

Hard to believe we are half way through the summer and the kids are living the rock star like, well one is literally!

The kids each chose one camp for the summer and true to form they chose wisely, grasshopper. Billy spent the week in Lego camp glorious Lego Camp all Lego all the time, heaven. This year his friend and Lego enthusiast Spencer joined Bill for the week of incredible adventure and building every boy should share. Each day was different theme, Jurassic park, buildings and cranes, monsters, heros and the like.  The boys had a blast and were actually Legoed out by the end of the week.

Kay was again at the Chef Upstairs and this time her friend Megan came along. The days were filled with creating breakfast, lunch menu planning and a trip to the farmers market for the supplies and then creating lunch and everyday a different dessert, crazy good food. Kay of course was in her element and her reputation as a top contender preceded her to camp, the results of the chopped competition are a guarded secret however the smile gave it away!

Jimmy the rock star, was once again submersed in his undisclosed favorite passion, live music performances. He was up early and ready to go everyday, no complaints and off to rock band camp, seriously passionate and ready to go. This year he felt a bit under challenged, but stepped out from behind the drums to play piano on The house of the Rising Sun, He spent several nights plugged into the computer teaching himself the piano solo for the song as the one the camp wanted him to play wasn't authentic enough. The group also played a song from the Skatalites called Confucius on which ne played drums and The commodores Brick House on which Jimmy and the other drummer split the drumming responsibility. There was a kid in the band named Dermot, whom played the Alto Sax and who's name the band built their name around coming up with Dermot and the Frogs, they we awesome.

The week came to a close with Billy in his final Canadian Taekwondo Tournament, this one in Niagara Falls, fitting. Tracy and Bill left the house early in the morning to make the trek to the Falls. Billy waited around for a few hours getting ready and performed awesomely coming in both second in Pomsae and Sparring, way to go Billy! He was super proud of himself and we are too.

Monday, July 14, 2014

In the spirit of the World Cup - Toronto vs Minneapolis

In the spirit of all the hard core rivalries, thought it might be fun to put Minneapolis up against Toronto...who's the "winner" you decide.  Below is a list of our favorite things in each place and we are just happy to be able to call both places home:)

~ LONG time friends and family
~ Food – chili beans in a can, firey hot cheetos, cheez its, spread cheese (there is a theme hereJ)
~ restaurants – Travail, Pig ate my Pizza, Bachelor Farmer, Mirror of Korea 
~ BIKE TRAILS!! Everywhere!! that go for miles and miles and miles and miles
~ Walking Nikki with Kristin and Leo
~ Our house and our neighborhood – the secret spot, Tiger park, Lion park
~ The sports – we miss seeing how the kids friends are doing and being on teams that are made up from kids in the neighborhood school
~ The traffic – or should I say LACK of traffic, we cant wait to say “we’ll be there in 20 min” and have it actually happen!
~ The lakes – nothing nothing nothing better than sitting on a boat, or dock, or beach in MN. Nothing….
~ Football as a national sport and the Vikings Packer rilvalry  

~ New friends and being close to Tracy’s family in Michigan
~ Food – Coffee Crisp, Maggis, Tim Bits
~ Restaurants – Guu, Nak Won, Jack Astors
~ The cemetery Tracy walks through every morning (a VERY good way to start the day with perspective)
~ Our neighborhood -  it surrounds the local school and the kids and walk/bike everywhere on their own circa 1950's
~ The subway and riding bikes up to go downtown and explore
~ The diversity – any announcement from school comes home in 20+ languages
~ The sports – they are WAY serious here, the kids get great coaching and the coaches are so positive and focused on family and school as well  
~ Ice cream trucks!! Its amazing – once it gets warm, they are everywhere and come by the house at least once a week, sending everyone into a frenzy!!
~ Car flags – Canadians are crazy about their car flags, with the World Cup being “on” almost every car has a car flag from a different country on it

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Billy Gotcha day and Kays Birthday

We celebrated Billy Gotcha Day (the day Billy came home from Korea to be part of our forever family) the day we got back from vacation with our good friends Rod, Peggy, Josh and Jake.  It was serendipitious since Josh and Billy are the reason we are friends, they met in skateboard camp 2 years ago.  Part of Gotcha Day is getting to pick dessert, in typical Billy fashion - brownies!  It was a low key day but we spent it being so grateful to Billys biological and foster family in Korea. He is SUCH a blessing and we love him to pieces!! 

On to the Main Event - Kay's 11th Birthday !!
As you know, turning 11 is  BIG DEAL. We covered the friend festivities in an earlier blog so this was the actual day family celebration. She spent the day swimming with friends and then requested fondue and ice cream pizza for dessert. AND...she wanted to open a LOT of presents.  What did she get?!  A new tackle box, tons of lures/bait and 2 new outfits. Sounds exactly like what every 11 yr old girl would dream of for a birthday. She loved it and Uncle Carl would have been way jealous. Shes been arranging and rearranging her tackle box ever since...

Hording her gifts 

A "martini" toast

The ice cream pizza
At dinner we went around the table and said all the things we love about Kay - she's creative, funny, independent, a great cook, generous, silly and a great gymnast. Again, we are so indebted to her biological and foster families for their unbelievable gift to us. She is amazing!
We found the below horoscope for people with 7/10 birthdays. Kay read it and said - Wow, that's totally me!!!
:) We love you Kay!    
Birthday Persona Profile
People born specifically on the 10th of July are surmised to be outgoing and charming with a fondness for socializing yet possess the typical crab delicate emotions. The planet with astrological dominance on this particular day is our Sun making you independent, observant and generous with modest needs. If you have this birthday a creative imagination is paired with a sharp mind and excellent memory. Willful and self disciplined you are fairly ambitious and full of innovative ideas but also strongly family orientated too. Your sensitivity to your surroundings and a well tuned sixth sense direct you to be emotionally insightful and naturally helpful. Individuals with a July the tenth birthday are fairly open and impulsive with a tendency to speak their mind but this will usually be very tactfully. Sometimes overly cautious and impatient you are not ordinarily keen on changes of routine or plan and like to take your time making important decisions in life.

Work and Finances
Favored career choices to a person born on the tenth of July are unlikely to involve working unsociable hours. You are as a rule a strictly nine til five kind who likes to keep in touch with friends and have a full social diary. Your wonderful organizational skills and imaginative innovation make you highly productive and a great asset in any type of workplace you choose. Pay is often unimportant although it is rare for you to accept a salary that is a lot less than you feel your input is really worth. A sensible approach to finances may make you appear a tad mean but usually rather adept at handling them.

Personal Relationships
For a Cancer, the person born on the tenth day of July is typically full of emotional sensitivity and fearful of a broken heart. Daring and adventurous in your professional life you are the total opposite when it comes to love and romance. You constantly need to know and be reassured where a relationship is going as you tend to prefer and seek plenty of stability in your private life. Both carefree and serious you need affection and support to feel truly happy and secure. Your high value of privacy and commitment in a soul mate relationship can cause you to be needy of trust and sometimes overly protective or jealous. Initially shy regarding the physical aspect of a love partnership you are eager to try new things if it is your partner that suggests them. In a long term relationship you are inclined to be noticeably moody if things are not going well.

The general healthiness experienced by those born on July 10th is once in a while jeopardized by a touch of laziness leading to a few bad habits. Staying as healthy as you can is commonly dependant on a nutritious eating plan including lean meat and fresh vegetables. Ideally you may require a menu that you prepare yourself and not just rely on others to decide food options and cook for you. People born on this day should consider a weekly walk or swim to help release stresses and give the circulatory system a workout. Try curbing your proneness for a sweet tooth to assist in preserving optimum dental health.

Strengths and Weaknesses
Your main strengths of character are displayed in the astute receptiveness, strong will and discipline you possess. These positive characteristics in unison help you recognize, understand and make the most of favorable opportunities. Additional fortes are seen in your abilities to organize and be appropriately tactful when needed. Personality weaknesses for those born on July 10th are likely to be more apparent if you have too many things on your mind and are feeling stressed. When these negative traits put in an appearance you can be guilty of displaying uncommunicative or isolated behaviors.

Dreams and Goals
Being born on the 10th of July usually bestows you with a desire to see tangible results for your efforts concerning goals. The majority of your hopes and wishes for the future will be based on material acquisitions and self improvement. You are fairly persistent in the pursuit of desired accomplishments, do not quit easily and willing to keep trying until you reap some real rewards for your hard work. In contrast, when dreaming your aspirations are likely to be focused on emotional success and happiness. Popular dreams are a yearning to be a great parent and a loyal caring spouse.

Birthday Luck and Significance
As you were born on the tenth day of the month your birth date digits reduce to a Root number of Ten. This numerical reference to your birthday has the keyword 'Drive' identifying your ambitiousness, innovation and care with decision making. In the Major Arcana Tarot the 10th card picturing the Wheel of Fortune is associated with your birthday. This symbolizes potential successes and failures in life and highlights your adeptness for seizing the right moment. The lucky gemstone for July the tenth birthdays is a Ruby, wear it for clarity of thought, courage and an increase in confidence.

The typified probabilities of Cancer personalities are believed determined astrologically by the influence of the Moon's power. The actual day you were born on, the tenth of July is governed by the Sun's authority adding the subtle differences that set you apart from your zodiacal equals. Your mix of charm, modesty and highly intuitive senses greatly accentuate the sociable side to your nature. Your talent at quickly recalling memories and information along with your situation appropriate seriousness and tact are admirable qualities that can help you progress favorably in life. A final thought to end on for people born on the July the 10th is to overcome your touch of shyness as this could possibly hold you back.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Schools Out, Michigan and the 4th of July

I always default to the oldie but goodie, Schools out for the Summer, a Alice Copper mega hit, which plays over and over in mind as the school year draws to an end and the thoughts of spending the next months with the kids 24/7 YIKES!!

This school year was awesome, fun, the kids learnt something and the field trips were super cool, I mean a working farm and planting our very own water flowers, to name a few. It will be bittersweet for Billy as he and Ms. Cutts are breaking up, as you see Ms. Cutts was Billy's 2nd and 3rd grade teacher and she will not be teaching 4th grade next year. She was a great teacher and helped keep Billy on track and focused, which is no easy task, Thanks Ms. Cutts.! As you all know from the previous post Kay is now a graduate and moving on to Middle School and more adventures there.
Kay brought
treats to school about once a moth and she had to out do herself for the end of the year treats so she made cookie monster cupcakes, 48 of them..

Jimmy will now be a Canadian 8th Grader and has a great group of friends, whom I may add have sent our food budget through the roof this year coming over to the house 2-3 times per week to play rock band on the wii, and eat as many chicken nuggets, corn dogs and hot pockets they could get their hands on and drinking coke by the case, it was super fun. He had the group over for an end of the year hang out and pizza party on the  last day of school which lasted until we kicked them all out and told them to go home, we are going on vacation, Michigan here we come!!

We picked Tracy up at work late Friday and headed west as far as we could go until the road construction and tiredness over took us and we needed to stop, around mid-night we ended up in Frankenmuth, MI, a lovely quaint spot on the map. Saturday we were up and at em and made it to Glen Lake without incident and got settled into the cabin, stashed out stuff and headed over to see Granma and Grandpa Hickey. The day was great the kids played in the lake and we caught up and had a nice afternoon. No trip to see Grandma Hickey is complete without Chalupa's and this was no different! We settled into our rented abode and everyone crashed after the events of the last couple of days.

Sunday we explored Glen Lake, the town not the lake, and of course Kay was on the hunt for some unique and odd item only the mind of an almost 11 year old could come up with, drum roll please; Fudge, and she was obsessed, " Mom and Dad, all some towns have to have a fudge shop". The is this place call Bear Paws, if you read last years post you will remember it is famous for 2 things, giant gummy bears and pizza. The giant gummy bear market seems to have dried up in Glen Lake as they no longer stock them however the pizza market has not. 2 larger family pizzas, 4 adults 3 kids, no leftovers and smiles all around, you gotta eat there! There is a tradition at the cottage that at or as near to 5:30 as you can everyone meets on Aunt Lynn & Uncle Gary's deck for happy hour and watching the sun set, will not set per se but you get the idea.

Monday was set for a dunes walk. The dunes is a picturesque place that extends from Glen Arbor all the way to Lake Michigan, the walk is not for the faint of heart or anyone obsessed with keeping sand out of their shoes. The Loudamericans headed out 2 of us had our sites set on walking the whole way and 3 of us were there for moral support and to help get Tracy and Billy to the top. They made the round trip walk and we ate ice cream, trade-offs. Monday night Tom & Kay put their culinary Skills on display and created a Mexican meal complete with marinated pork, hearts of palm and Kay made several decorations for the platters and it was awesome!!

Tuesday was Tracy's last day as she had to get back to Toronto, so we decided a family bike ride was in order. Grandma and Grandpa are volunteers for the State Park, which encompasses most of the area and have the cool bike vests that they wear as Bike Path Ambassadors, so at least we would break any rules or get lost while they were with us! Then it was back to the lake for a swim and lunch.
Grandpa and Grandma took Tracy to the airport and the rest of us lazed around the cabin some begging for a wi-fi connections others reading a book. Jimmy has been obsessed with the World Cup, changing team affiliations with every goal and cheering like a banshee.
Grandma stopped by the Library and picked up a movie that Jimmy has been literally dying to see, Month Python and the Holy Grail, so after dinner, Grandma and Grandpa , who have not seen this 80's icon of a movie, innocently asked do you guys want to watch this? Is it any good? The movie was basically on a continuous loop in the cabin for the next few days, both Jim's ( Grandpa and Jimmy) were laughing so hard they couldn't stand it, it was entertaining.

Tracy's sister Tammy and her three kids, Georgia, Joey & Herby showed up on Thursday and the next few days were pretty much the same it went like this:
Breakfast at 10:00 outside for world Cup inspired soccer, break at noon for a swim and then baseball inspired by the pending All-Star Break, a quick break while Kay did a few dozen back hand springs into back walkovers, then into the lake for wind surfing, tubing clam seeking and other lake type activities, the 5:30 would roll around, you get the picture. In between we would have lunch, play an occasion game of pig or horse, then back to  cousin time, it was great.

Friday was the 4th of July and Glen Lake does their parade up proudly. Grandpa and Grandma rode their bile sin the parade with the rest of the docents, the parade itself is about an hour long with the added bonus of every float heaving candy into the crowd at a break neck pass, it is a bigger haul than most big town Halloweens! The kids were on a sugar high for the rest of the day! Tracy & Tammy's cousin Jami and her husband Kurt along with their 2 kids Kiera & Reece joined us and their kids fell right into the mix, soccer, baseball, lake, basketball, backflip, lunch, Month Python, repeat....
Grandpa fired up the Webber and we had burgers, brats all the fixing you would want for the 4th!!

Saturday we had to say goodbye as it was time to head back to Toronto. It was an awesome week full of great memories and a huge THANK YOU, to Granma Bunny and Grandpa Jim for all the fun,  and a great time.
A brief side note it seems that Alice Cooper is such a fan of square hamburgers that he was recently was inducted into the While Castle Cravers Hall of Fame, seriously
more to come...

Friday, June 27, 2014

Grade 5 Graduation

It is referred to in the hood only as " The GRAD" it is only one name like Madonna, Sting or FIFA, same caliber, depending on ones perspective. I mean graduating from 5th Grade, just saying.

However in keeping with the frenzy Tom volunteered to be on charge of the food for the event .Traditionally, yes I can use that reference, the food consisted of chips, a cake of some sort and then focusing on the parents and guests, coffee, sweets and like that, but no, not when there is a new Sheriff in town with a daughter graduating from 5th Grade, bring it baby!

Chocolate Fountain, tear way cupcakes, with the grade 5 Grade composite etched in edible icing on the cupcakes, fruit off all kinds, marshmallows, and lady fingers for the fountaining, loot bags and the like ,that's what I'm talking about : "The GRAD"!!!!

The Graduates walked into the hall to Pomp and Circumstances, deck to the 9's, the flash of hand held devices lighting the way lining up alphabetically in front of the crowd, synergy.
The Principal delivered a hand crafted welcome speech, the 5th grade teacher was aroused from his slumber and introduced the agenda as well as handed out several student achievement awards culminating with a member of the Toronto City Council announcing this years John Filion Community Involvement Award, for the 5th grade student that shows an over abundant interest in his or her community, not a dry eye in the house.

The 2 Valedictorians who were chosen by a panel of teachers based on many difficult criteria, then delivered what can only be called ' The Valedictorian Speech"
Kay's speech is below and we think that since it sounds more like a locker room speech for a game well played than a speech geared toward academic achievement, she did not meet the stick standards of the panel.

Then the moment the kids have lived their whole lives for, up to this point, the introduction of the Graduates and receiving their diplomas. Keeping with the program, the Graduates broke out in a song they all hand picked for the occasion; " Best Day of My Life".

Then it was off to the reception ,where you heard the GRADS saying, WOW a Chocolate Fountain and Cupcakes, this is the best GRAD ever, or at least I thought that's what I heard. The feeding frenzy over, the Grads where then ushered back into the Graduation Hall for a 2 hour dance and lets go crazy party. Congratulations Graduates!!!
More to come......

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

4th Annual Presquile weekend

We were invited to this very prestigious event which was held over the past weekend.
In the neighborhood there are literally dozens of kids, all or most of which go to the same school and for the past 4 years the Dads have been taking the kids on a two day no holds bared camping trip. This year was no different.
Presquile is a sort of National Park type place about 2 hours east of Toronto and it sits on a peninsula in Lake Ontario and has several beaches and most important for this group, large group camp sites. The group usually takes up two sites one for the tents, pop-up trailers and campers, the other for the sports field.

We all arrived late Friday afternoon, the murphy's kids, less Jimmy, The Clarks and the Kawalchuk's caravanned together with a brief stop at the Clark family farm for dirt bike riding and a nature walk.
We arrived around 3:00 amidst rest of the campers setting up tents, the dining hall/gambling room. The main event for the dad's is the Saturday night 31 tournament complete with a trophy and year long bragging rights! Friday night was a gourmet feats of hot-dogs for the kids and polish type sausages for the adults, that was it!
The camp fire was big, the stories long winded and by the end of the night the entire West Lansing Spiritual Group said it's prayers and hit he hay.

Saturday morning kids being kids they all were up and running around at 6:30 screaming and have a blast, the Dads were right behind them! Following a hearty breakfast of pancakes and sausages it was time for the annual dads versus kids baseball game. Kids got as many pitches as it took to get a hit. Dads had to bat one handed opposite hand 3 strikes, tough crowd. The game battles on for two hours and ended with a draw, no fooling. Next up the beach and more wearing out the kids. Some one has the video and I shall try to find it of the 30 foot Camper Van pulling up to  the beach and 25 dads and 43 kids getting off, it will be a safety video later this fall! Lunch was cold cut sandwiches complete with condiments and cheese, the kids devoured the chow and we had to make a speed run into town for more!

Saturday afternoon was lazing around the campo ground playing catch, horse shoes, badminton and watching Germany and Ghana in the World Cup, it think the 40 inch big screen that came with the motor home was the real reason it was rented! Dinner was burgers, and chips!!! The battle for the crown and the 31 bragging rites. Many of the rituals that go into the tournament are not for public knowledge, they are after all rituals, suffice it to say when the dust settled, the defending champ was the first one out and on the new comer's stood victorious, I must confess  the author came in third, which was a feat in itself!
Looking forward to the invite for next year and moving into my rightful place as 31 champ of the West Lansing Spiritual Group!
more to come....

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The start of the end of the school year

School in Canada goes through the end of June, lest you think that sounds like heaven for those of you that have kids fully entrenched in summer ... keep in mind ... it means that there are 3 extra weeks to have 'final' school activities - field trips, banquets, tournaments, birthday parties, you name it... And hence, it started 10 days ago, the official  start of the end of the school year. Grab a energy drink or your favorite beverage and settle in. I promise you'll be tired when we get through with this blog.
Thurs 6/5 - Tracy leaves for the MS150 and Sue arrives to help/participate in the start of the end. It starts slowly and deceptively with a typical Thursday night - gymnastics, soccer and pick up basketball in our front yard Fri 6/6 - a PA day (the kids have off school) so that the teachers can write report cards - Not sure why they are writing them NOW when there is still 3 weeks left of school but...who am I to say. while a PA day can cause every parent to panic - no worries, Kay has her final gymnastics tournament an hour away- Perfect! In this tournament she bumped up a level and learned 4 new routines in 2 weeks. Do you think that deterred our Kay from winning medals? No Way! She walked away with a gold on beam (and the award for best technique) as well as 3rd in floor and 5th & 7th respectively in bars and vault. Not a bad showing given she had 4 practices to master 4 new routines. Tom tempted fate and left Jimmy at home to play basketball and hang with this friends. The good news is, he's turning it a pretty responsible pre-teen. We'll see how long that lasts any case, the house was standing when they returned.
Sat 6/7 - another "typical" day - tae kwon do, baseball and dinner with friends Sun 6/8 - Kay had a birthday party, Jimmy a baseball game, and Tom had school. Not to mention piano lessons. Everyone met back up at home at 9pm and fell into bed exhausted (Tracy came rolling in at 11pm from her MS150 flight home)
Mon 6/9 - as an early birthday present we bought Jimmy and Sue tickets to the Blue Jay/Twins game - it was AWESOME! On top it, Billy had Tae Kwon Do, Kay had dress rehersal for her dance recital and Tom had school. We were all asleep the minute our heads hit the pillow (11pm-ish) Tues 6/10 - Sue felt "bad" that she took Jimmy on a special outing and a couple parents in Kay & Billy's class where "skipping" school to take their kids to Wonderland (think Great America or Valley Fair) and so we thought - Hey! Why not?! Off they went to eat junk food, spin in circles and get sunburned. Life doesn't get any better than that! That night was the usual - gymnastics, another baseball game for Jimmy and Tae Kwon Do - The parents are borderline sleep deprived and the kids are so tired they are hyper. But...the fun is just beginning....
Wed 6/11 - Sue went to school to help Billys class make their Fathers Day presents - VERY Fun. Also.. Kay had her 1st and LAST dance recital EVER! She did amazing BUT she's declared she's "done" with dance. That's fine with us, the recital was a 3 hour affair and we left early. She had her game face on and is just one big muscle - Got home at 9:30pm - just in time for dinner:) – Kay (not very good video as we weren’t allowed to video and we had to “sneak” doing it)
Thurs 6/12 - Jimmy's drum concert - its the pinnacle of all his lessons and was held at a real bar with a real band. He brought the house down (again). He played James Brown and is quite worried about what his teacher is going to say since he ad libbed quite a bit and (apparently) that's not allowed. Needless to say, he got a sweeped round of applause and unlike the other 20 acts, actually seemed to be enjoying himself AND stayed on beat. I think we were in bed "early" (10:30) - a little grainy but good sound - in case you cant tell, he's in the middle of the screen:)
Fri 6/13 - AND a full moon - woo woo woo - we ACTUALLY stayed home. and... did nothing... can you believe it?! Cant be too careful these days.. It was also jump rope for heart at school and pizza lunch, both of which Sue volunteered at.
Sat 6/14 - Kay hosted 13 girls for her 11th birthday party - yes her birthday isn't until July and yes Jimmy had baseball and Billy had Tae Kwon Do as well as she had her gymnastics banquet that night but NO ONE puts Baby in a corner and isn't it a piece of cake to whip up a tea party, make your own pizza, Hawaiian themed zombie tag party?! Not a problem - it all worked out. The banquet was fun too. They sat the kids on 1 side of the room and the mom's on the other. Then there was a fashion show, dance party and awards. Did we mention the neighbors also had us over for drinks/dinner?

Sun 6/15 - Tom is back at class, Kay at gymnastics, Jimmy has baseball and Tracy spent the day trying to make it a decent Fathers Day for Tom. We had a VERY yummy brunch and presents/cards/DQ post Jimmy's baseball win and once we ate dinner (10pm). We each said what we love most about Tom and what we are thankful for, we talked to our Grandpas and Tom loved all his gifts (well, except the book Tracy bought him) Overall, not a bad Fathers day. Mon 6/16 - Back at it! Sue headed back home, the kids back in school, Tracy back at work and Tom left at home to cleanup the carnage. Come to speak of it. Maybe he should ask for a "re do" on Fathers day:) Next up? The Cameron Father/Child camping trip this weekend for Tom/Kay/Billy, 2 baseball games for Jimmy this weekend, more school for Tom, another birthday party for Billy, gymnastics for Kay and Jimmy wants to have an end of the year party at our house. Piece of cake...