Thursday, February 26, 2015

Kay and Jimmy sports update ( Billy piano recital next week)


Jimmy is heavy into 7th grade basketball, every day after school and 2 games/week. Unfortunately, the team isn’t doing well (1-9 record) and the games are all at 3:45pm, perfectly bad timing for parents. Tracy was able to rearrange a few meetings and actually catch a game this year. It was nerve racking!   1st off, he’s the tallest kid on the team – by far! If he stood up straight, he’d even be taller than the coach. He’s on the team with some of his besties (Anders and James) along with a whole new slew of friends.   If you haven’t been to a 7th grade basketball game lately, let me give you the run down.  Individually, these kids have talent; they can shoot, block and pass.  Collectively, it’s a goat rodeo. Think full contact basketball with kids ranging from 5’ to 5’ 10” tall who all think they are the next Kevin Garnett.  It’s a fast paced game with tons of attempts at 3 pointers (which almost never make it but it’s too hard to pass up the glory of the shot) fouls (Jimmy consistently fouls out of games) missed passes (Jimmy throws the ball so hard he practically knocks over this teammate) and missed free throws. 





We keep telling the kids ‘games are won on free throws’ and ‘use your fouls wisely grasshopper’ but to no avail. I’m surprised that more kids aren’t hurt on a daily basis. But…they are definitely engaged (i.e.: intense) and are getting a great workout. I feel bad for the coach.






Despite his best attempts to teach them the game, they go out there and the frontal cortex of the 12/13 yr old brain takes over. Its every man for himself.  Needless to say, the kids aren’t big fans of their coach. I think it’s a lose/lose situation and note to self – never volunteer to coach 12/13 yr old boys basketball. There is a week left in the season, we’ll see what happensJ




Kay and Tracy had a “date” day and went to see the Gopher women’s gymnastics team at their MN meet (Hamline, Gustavus and Winona State). I didn’t realize it but they are multiyear Big 10 champs and it shows!  (I felt bad for the other teams, the U just wiped the floor with them …)  It really was as close as you get to Olympic quality gymnastics on a random Sunday afternoon.  The facilities are impressive with big screen, montages of the players, rally cries and incredible coverage of the meet.



Goldie the Gopher was even there getting the crowd amped up.  Kay was immediately smitten and declared “I am totally going to the U to compete in gymnastics, I want to be on the BOARD!!” (see photo to know what I mean).  We were there with some of her teammates and they were in heaven. Running around, getting treats, watching routines, talking about what they will be able to do some day, getting temporary tattoos, etc etc…  The girls were impressive and there we a few moves that were hard to watch and made your heart stop. If Kay is able to do those one day, I’ll need warning during the meet to NOT WATCH!  They were handing out posters of the team and after the meet, the girls could get the teams autographs, so so cool and really inspirational for the kids.  On the way home Kay was googling which level you need to be at to compete at the university level. Currently Kay competes at level 5, they are talking of having her skip level 6 and go right to level 7 (the only difference between level 5 & 6 are two skills that she’s been actively practicing/mastering – they think she’ll have them nailed in the next month and then she can go right to level 7). 

 You can compete in college at level 9 but to get a good scholarship and into a big/good school, you need to be at level 10.  Level 11 is training for the Olympics.  Given she’s got Jr High and High School ahead of her still and with the rate she’s going/improving/working, this is really within Kay’s reach.  She’s excited and totally recommitted to gymnastics. Super fun Sunday!            


Another side bit of good news? Tom’s mom (Kay) is in chemo treatment and handling it really really well. None of the challenging side effects.  Keep your prayers coming, they are working! 








Monday, February 16, 2015

Random updates, good news, bad news good news

Starting with the good news, we are having a really fun February!! Everyone seems to have come out of their post holidays January hibernation and were ready for some fun. Jimmy had a Bar Mitzvah (Jacob aka Snowflake), Billy and Kay had a dance party at Tae KwonDo, Tom and Tracy had dinner with Jim/Jen Fellows, we ALL ate yummy brats at the New Bohemian sausage and ale house by our house with the VanMeters, Big 10 subs with Wendy and a gated community party where the kids overtook our house and the adults when to a sing a long with Erin Schwab (our favorite local performer - think Bette Midler; huge voice, show tunes and great '80's ballads). The kids all had Vday parties at school and while Jimmy's basketball team isnt winning, he's having a blast with his friends. Its all good!

Then, on the evening of Vday we learned that Tom's mom (Kay) was getting admitted to the hospital with severe bloating in her abdomen (bad news).  They removed 1 liter of fluid and started tests. We drove up on Presidents Day to visit her and see how she was doing. She looked great and was in good spirits ... all things considered. The doctors knew it was cancer but didnt know the type or severity until more tests came back.  Also at the hospital was Tom's dad (Jeremiah) sister (Brigid) brother (Pat) and aunt Marty. It was super nice and low key and fun to catch up even if we were all a bit jumpy. I think Kay mainly wanted to get out of the hospital so that she could get some good sleep. Hospitals are no place for sick people!!   Kay made Oreo cookie squares and once again proved her Master Kids Chef worthiness. Everyone raved about them and it was nice to have a bit of a treat together.

On the way home, we got the best bad news you can get!  (aka: good news) Kay has a very treatable and minor form of ovarian cancer. 3 months of chemo and she should be as good as new.  Funny how that sounds like good news when you worry about the worst (but hope for the best).

Please send thoughts of peace and healing to Kay. I'm sure the next few months will be challenging, but its do-able, especially with the families/friends support.

Give everyone you know/love a big hug and recognize how blessed you are.... Be grateful for everyday!!  Love to you ALL!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Billy Update

Billy has been keeping himself pretty busy these day's.
 He has started guitar lessons and is strumming away and is all smiles; he seems to like it. Jimmy has been dying to have Billy play guitar with him and finally Billy gave in. The two of had fun strumming and picking, a regular throw down going on over here :)








So as you know from previous blogs Billy )in grade four) is pretty focused on book reports and is keeping up with the class. The other little known fact is that in 4th grade you, that is the student, in the case Billy... MUST present a culture box. Billy chose South Korea because in his words " I was born there and wanted to learn more about where I was born". The concept is the student learns all he or she can on the country of choice and interviews a person from there and then relate their story back to the class.

Our friend ShinBee graciously let Billy interview her Grandma, Suni. Billy set up a time for the interview and armed with a list of questions headed over to have a visit with Suni. A little background here, Suni is somewhat of an introvert, as is Billy, so the interview was quite cute, however they managed to answer the questions and Billy put together a wonderful story. He also decorated his culture box with several South Korean artifacts, which were all his and created a story for the box and then spent many nights practicing his speech. Jimmy, the consummate extrovert, was dying trying to get Billy to use bigger words and be more confident in his approach, with suggestions such as " Billy do not use negative words", "Billy if you are unsure what you are going to say don't say um a bunch of times just look at the audience and pretend to do something else", "fake it they will never know!"
Jimmy's help aside, Billy practiced and did things his way.

The big day finally came and Billy was ready.  Fortunately for Bill he has a Dad and a sister who are major foodies so they prepared some Mondu for Billy to hand out at his presentation. Billy donned the microphone, set out his culture box, starred straight ahead and delivered an awesome presentation, he even did a little ad-libbing and impressed the audience with his command of the Korean history, culture and food. Several times you could hear him say " and this is I can't pronounce , but really cool!"  The score sheet told the story, great presentation, great job looking up, well done speaking, super job putting all the information together, great story, the food was delicious!! A+++++++++

Billy has been working double time on Taekwondo, taking private lessons trying to get caught up with all the new moves, and concepts that are different here than in Toronto. His goal has been to get into the Black Belt club, the select group of kids training to get their black belts. So yesterday the mail arrive and a letter from the Taekwondo Academy addressed to one Billy Murphy. He saw the letter his eyes became like saucers, his hands literally started shaking and he announced he needed to sit down, seriously... he was beyond nervous. He opened the letter and let out a sigh of relief, he made it!! Billy's first words were " Whew, I though they were going to kick me out!" Once the worry wore off we asked him if he wanted to call his Grandparents and let them know to which he replied " Not till it's official, I still have to make an appointment and pass the interview, then we can call people"
He's just to cute, way to go Billy we are Super Proud of you!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Kay update


Kay had another of her highly competitive gymnastics events last Friday night (why these things are on Friday and Sunday nights are beyond me. 4 + hours of sitting on bleacher seats to see 4 min's total of Kay ...totally worth it!!)






Vault – 1st event – continuously challenging for Kay as she’s strong, fast and light. It takes her airborne if she’s not ready for it.

               Vault # 1 – nice looking vault but doesn’t block (aka push off) so is a lower score due to lower difficulty

               Vault # 2 – blocks nicely but see comment above – goes FLYING to the end of the mat – I swear she was going to hit the wall!

Score=  8.225  didn’t place

 

Bars – each and every one of her team mates fell of the bars and she was up last. We were really nervous. They are trying new skills on the bars and she’s lost a bit of confidence.

 Her routine looked beautiful!  We thought she was in the 9’s for sure but… alas, not to be

Score = 8.75  6th place

 Talked to the coach later, learned that she had an incredible run at the bars and then let go on her dismount a bit too early. That’s enough of a point reduction to get her out of the 9’s. bummer

 

Beam – again, her team was super wobbly and fell off numerous times…can Kay do it?!

Score = 9   4th place
Really nice tight performance, she needs a bit more confidence to get that score up a bit.                

 

Floor – this is Kay's sweet spot, all that speed and strength and lightness comes to play here and she ROCKED IT!! Nailed both her front tuck (flip) and back tuck (flip) perfectly. It was so fun to see.

Score = 9.475 2nd place

 

Kay took 6th overall and got the award for best swing on the bars across the whole tournament (I TOLD you she looked awesome). Her team placed 2nd overall and the 1st time they have ever placed as a team in the tournament.

 

It was a super fun tournament with fun give always and even a hand stand contest (super funny to watch pre-teen girls stand on their hands for up to 4 min’s straight. Not graceful but impressive!!)

 

Kay was thrilled, she talked non-stop the whole way home about how much fun she had, how well she did, where she got better, what she needed to work on, etc etc. She was on the moon. WAY better than the last tournament when she cried with disappointment. Way to go Kay!! That’s our girl, resilient and determined to do betterJ

 

Tracy spent quite a bit of time chatting with Kay’s coach, just by chance, during the awards.    She was super chatty and mentioned how often she gets compliments from the other coaches/parents on our team: how polite, engaged, professional, supportive and cohesive they are as a team. Everyone is impressed by how close they are and how they encourage each other. Such fun things to hear as a parent!  She also mentioned that she’s considering take 2-3 girls (Kay included) and having them skip level 6 and move directly to level 7 when this tournament season is over. It seems that there is only 1 skill difference between 5 & 6 and these girls almost have it nailed.  Its interesting because Kay’s Toronto coaches wanted her to skip level 5 and go right level 6 (which would put her ultimately in the same spot on the same timing). When Tracy mentioned this to Kay’s coach, she said that level 5 is compulsory (i.e. – you have to compete at level 5) in MN. Interesting…we’ll see what happens. Kay has 1 more tournament this year (3/8) and that will determine the next steps.

 

In the meantime, she’s having fun, competing hard, learning great life lessons, pushing herself mentally and physically and getting a terrific workout (we are all jealous of Kay’s abs).   All around win, win, winJ        

  

In other Kay news… and the other side of the Kay spectrum. Band.

 

We should really leave it at that but you need the background. Band in 6th grade is compulsory (it is in 5th grade too but she missed that due to being in Canada).  Kay chose the trumpet. Why? Because it only has 3 keys (not true but there are only 3 buttons on a trumpet). She has proceeded to not practice, forget her trumpet, forget her music sheets, etc. Anything and everything to avoid band. When she does practice, it sounds like a dying seal and Jimmy is fairly certain he can play better than she can and he’s never even tried.  They have been practicing 3 songs for their concert, one of which is We will Rock You. There is one very small part in it when you just blast on the trumpet. Every time she gets to it, Kay says “oh, this is the part I’m good at”.

 

The concert was tonight. We were considering telling her to fake it especially after we got an email from her band instructor asking us specifically have to have Kay practice A LOT over the weekend last weekend.

 

Needless to say, 6th grade band concerts aren’t highbrow entertainment. We made the boys go and we are fairly certain it was going to be Jimmy’s version of hell.    However, it was really good. It looked like she was actually playing and they played some fun songs. Not sure that this is enough to entice her to stick with band but…it was a positive experience all around.

 

Kay – thanks for being so tough, adventurous, adaptable and resilient and for having a great attitude (about most things !) we love you!

  
 
 
 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Jimmy Update

The lad continues his drive towards seeing every major sporting event he can and this past week was no exception. Tom and Jimmy headed to Green Bay to watch the Packers/Cowboys divisional championship. It was a cold January day at Lambeau....

The two of them headed towards Green Bay late Saturday afternoon and planned to arrive in time to watch the Seattle/ Carolina game only to find out that since Sue is in Costa Rica she put her cable on hold, but that didn't deter these two, Buffalo Wild wings played host for them and the game, wings, onion rings, burgers and the game perfect.

They were up and getting ready on Sunday morning each dressed for the weather and wearing a Green Bay Packers neck warmer and hat, Jimmy looked over at Tom and said " You know Dad I wanted to see a playoff game with you I just didn't think it would come down to this!" We arrived att he stadium around an hour before kick off and just wandered around taking in the sites. In order to make it to our seats we went through the pro-shop, which was packed and very busy, Jimmy looked over and Said " Dad we should leave this is somewhat disturbing", the last of the die hard Vikings fans, or maybe the only  real Vikings fan!The game was super fun, the fans keep them in the game even if the refs tried to win it for the Cowboys, the Lambeau towels were waved along with cheering for the pack and we had a great time, thanks Grandpa Jim!!!




Next up for Jimmy was the Winter band concert, which included a sneak peek at the Jazz band, Jimmy plays drums in the Jazz band and Tenor sax in the regular band. The Jazz band played three songs and were pretty tight and impressive. The regular band had about 60 kids and they too were quite good. The music teacher/conductor had the kids introduce the songs along with stating which instrument they played, his mistake was he letting Jimmy have a shot with the mic. Most kids said my name... and I play the...but not Jimmy if you give him a mic and a stage, well...He said for those of you who don't know me my name is Jimmy and I play the piano, alto and tenor sax, the trumpet, the clarinet and the drums and I recently taught myself how to play guitar, but I suppose it is not good form to stand up at your band concert and talk about yourself... see what I mean!




In between he also had basketball tryouts and was dead set to make the A team and after several days of complaining he made it! To finish off the winter semester he also had to create a science project. He chose to use 4 iphone 5's each with a different carrier and then test which had the best coverage, and he was doing this during school hours when cell phone use was not allowed, but all in the name of science!

Jimmy is continuing to excel in and out of school, hanging with his friends and basically being a teenager, yes complete




with the 13 year old attitude,,,
more to come

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and all that:)

Wow, what a crazy 2 weeks!

We started the holiday season with Grandma and Grandpa, a smoked turkey dinner and nice family time by the fire and with the tree.  Grandma Kay made Aunt Minnies potatoes, Kay homemade chocolate confections and Tom a gourmet meal. It was so nice and yummy and great to just relax and visit with Tom's mom and dad.  So thankful that they drove down to see us before our craziness started.

We did our family celebration Christmas Eve Eve, going totally against tradition with evening present opening and prime rib (normally we have beef wellington - tough life, I know).  We also didn't have a real tree (for the 1st time ever) and the kids let me know how upset they were for weeks in advance about all this "un tradition" - in fact, at one point, they said "why don't you just cancel Christmas this year?!"  I would have been totally fine with that!  We did compromise and I bough pine scented spray to spray on the tree. Man, does that stuff stink!  But, alls well that ends well. We had so much fun opening presents together and our neighbors even stopped by for a little holiday cheer.  Kay had the best Christmas ever with HORDES of cooking supplies, a new phone and case that matches her new bathing suits. She was on top of the world! Billy was thrilled with his Legos and new 3/4 size guitar, he starts lessons next week:) He' going to give Jimmy a run for his money!  Tom loved his new shorts and shoes as well as new casserole dish. Tracy was super excited about her new shoe sneakers (for dog walks) and appreciation basket from Kay (loaded up with chocolate!).    Jimmy, in true 13 yr old fashion, was the hardest to buy for this year.  Couldn't decide what he wanted, kept changing his mind and had expectations WAY out of our realm. He got some nice gifts (go pro, video games, etc) which is promptly decided to return and save the money for something bigger.    I keep reminding him that these are very  much 1st world problems and that he had a hard time deciding what he wanted because he already has all he needs. I think he gets it and he was a pretty good sport about the whole thing.

This is all leading up to why we had an early and non-traditional Christmas - MEXICO!!!

My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year and treated us all to a week vacation in Playa del Carmen. SO generous and lovely and fun. Since we had been planning this for so long, our flight was out of Toronto so... we needed to fly to Toronto on Christmas Eve to get our flight to Mexico on Christmas morning. We had Christmas Eve dinner at Jack Astors, the kids swam in the hotel pool and by some divine intervention, we had a room with a fire place where we could set out our stockings along with a cup of coffee and treats for Santa.  A pretty good approximation of home:)

 Everyone arrived in Mexico throughout the day, we all got checked in and the kids hit the pool. We had a lovely dinner and went to the 1st of many shows that we would see at the resort that week.

The second day was the pinnacle. We had a surprise vow renewal planned for my parents complete with champagne, cake, bouquet, boutinerre and the girls as flower girls. Its was really touching and beautiful and both my parents had a little tear in their eye. Jimmy took photos and Tom was videographer and they all turned out lovely. Dinner was special at the fancy Italian restaurant and the kids were VERY well behaved.

The next 4 days were a blur of beach, pool, soccer, football (TV and beach kind) volleyball, sailing, kayaking, reading, eating, drinking, etc etc.  I highly recommend it:)

Tammy and Jeff generously took 6 of the kids on an excursion as well - the Mayan pyramids and ruins followed by cave snorkeling and kayaking.   Julie, Mom and Sue took a few boys to the pyramids as well (Billy was enthralled by the lizards) and Tom took a few boys to the driving range (god help us). Everyone got to do exactly what they wanted, when they wanted.We celebrated my parents, our family and Georgias 12th birthday AND, we even got to see the Packers WIN!! (best present yet!) 
The whole family was together for the 1st time in years. The kids got along amazingly and we all got to relax and just be together.  Really, a trip of a lifetime.

Unfortunately, all good things must end and on New Years Eve we were all up early and headed back to the airport. We were the last to leave and the kids got in 1 final swim and breakfast buffet fruit gorge.

We landed in Toronto at 9:30pm and promptly headed to our hotel and friends house (Rod/Peggy) for a bit food, drink and to ring in the new year.  We actually ended up at a different neighbors house (long story) but that was fine. The kids saw their friends and we got to catch up and toast the new year. Perfect.

New Years day and the next was a series of running the kids around to see all their friends. They were thrilled! In fact, it was like we had never left, everyone fell right back into their friendship - easy peasy, love it!  We were able to spend some really good quality time with Russ/Kim (thanks for the wonderful relaxing chili dinner)  Peggy/Rod (thanks for letting Tom cook, he was going out of his mind - he hadnt cooked in 10 days!!) Luke/Laurie/Asher/Coya (thank you for the super yummy Korean lunch - still craving pork bone soup:)) 

Then, Saturday morning, after 1 final play date for each kid, it was back to the airport and back to our own beds in MPLS.  We were so excited we could stand it. We picked up Nikki on the way home from the airport, got home, started the 1st of 10 loads of laundry, and .... promptly went to our neighbors for a casual wild rice soup dinner and dance party (ok ok, just Kristin and I danced but how can you NOT dance when Janet Jackson is on?!)  Today is all about the other 9 loads of wash, packing up Christmas, getting caught up on bills, etc and then the monster grocery shopping trip. All in time for school to start tomorrow and for all of us to get back to a new normal.

We are so blessed - a wonderful/generous/healthy family and friends/neighbors in MPLS and Toronto (& Bangalore for that matter) that are like family.  What a wonderful end to 2014 and a great beginning to 2015!! 

Peace & hugs to you all!!