Friday, April 22, 2016

St Pats in April!

 
Who said you cant celebrate St Pats in April, or all year round for that matter? Due to kid activities, our party was rescheduled to April 17.  Once again, we had an amazing turn out.   The stats ...
 
4/17/2016
1 16 oz key - fried
1 parade
1 game of nerf assassin
1 game of football
2 dance performances
2 types of meatballs (including veggie)
3 types of chicken wings 
3 games of basketball  
10 person pyramid
20 month old keg master
48 bottles of water
50 kids
75 adults
108 cans of soda
Priceless -fun had by all!

 
 
The start of the parade!

 Lets get going!!

 The officials, Tom's parents and the neighbors - officiating

 Kays gymnastics team

 post pyramid

Our keg master of the day, Cricket 
The big boys they actually walked in the parade!

 The younger boys, they ran in the parade

 the front of the parade!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Happy Gotcha Day-Jimmy

Now 14 years later and still growing, Jimmy continues to be passionate about all things sports and is branching out in his musical endeavors as we just got an old 1978 Kimball Swinger 700 model organ!

He has been on a terror the past few weeks regarding his grades and is battling the High School process for classes and grading in French, which is different from the middle school and as Jimmy is a one process kind of kid, i.e: if you explain to him how things are done, then they are always done that way, no changing, and if you change them, he will fight you all the way...However as the this publication has as they say in India : Full Marks!

His passion about sports is taking a bit of a turn this year. As many of you know from past posts, Jimmy is an all in kind of player. The only sport there is the sport of the moment, however this is the first time he is extending the season to play a second one. Basketball has him playing on another traveling team this Spring which was interfering with his determination to play baseball. Finally after a bit of parental direction and peer influence Jimmy has decided he will play both...we will see how that goes.

The kid is super funny, extremely competitive and, when he is not acting like a teenager, great to joke and goof around with.

We love you Jimmy we are super blessed that you chose us to be your forever family and we look forward to watching you as we move into the next phase of your life: DRIVERS ED! God helps :)

Also rich blessing to his birth parents - especially his birth mother. can't wait to meet you some day and see where jimmy gets it from:)

And...all the social worker, doctors and foster family members that loved him up before he was placed in our arms.  You did good.



Friday, April 08, 2016

Billy kicks ass!! - he is now a red tip belt

Last night Billy tested for his red belt with black tip. This is the final belt before the biggie, the grandmaster of all belts, the bruce lee for 11 yr olds, the Jackie chan of taekwondo, the BLACK BELT!! Yes, Billy has 6 months to train and get ready to be a black belt. Watch out world!! (Actually, watch out Jimmy, you may want to cut down on the teasing)
 
As we've mentioned before, we love Billy's team & dojong (gym). Its like a family and so fun to see everyone improve, progress and support each other. Last night was no exception. They rallied around each other, had fun, cheer each other on and lots of good natured teasing.  It was a fun night and we are SO proud of how hard Billy works, how well he listens and how disciplined he with  TKD. Proud of you Billy - we love you!     
 

 Nervously waiting to start

 Kicks!!!!

 The graduates!!!

  Rush Hour (the favorite nickname for Ace and Billy, its a movie with Jackie Chan and Chris Rock and VERY appropriate to their personalities) 

Rush Hour silliness, Ace came to cheer Billy (and his dad) on even though he wasn't testing this cycle  


  Ok, its almost time!!

 He did it!!!  Getting his new belt.
video Board breaking is becoming more complex and more important for his skills  

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Mid semester conferences

After a full week of spring break, the kids had a short week with 2 more days off for conferences. They are the last conferences of the year and were very typical. In fact, you could probably just copy/paste the last 9 years of school conferences for each kid and they really don't change from year to year.

Jimmy - per all his teachers, he is a joy to have in class, asks great questions, wants to do well and gets the rest of the kids engaged in learning. He does need to watch how much he is talking to his friends (we call this the murphy curse) His grades saw an improvement from 1st semester

                   1st semester           mid semester
Band                A                         A
Earth Science  A-                        A-
English            A                         A
Geometry         B +                     A  He's most proud of this!! He's been working really hard
Global Studies A-                     A
Phy Ed                                       A
French                                        B-  This class is super frustrating for him. Its at the high school and the last class every  day. Its graded differently than his other classes and he's having a hard time adjusting to the high school level expectations but... he's totally got the speak/comprehension down, its the details of spelling, grammar, etc. His teacher is fully confident he'll get there but he's really hard on himself since this class , along with Geometry, will go on his high school transcript. Can you say perfectionist (which isn't a good thing....)


Kay is doing AMAZING!!  She had an ephipany in January after a full 4 months of us fighting with her on homework, studying, etc.  She announced at dinner "you know, if I do my homework and actually hand it in, I get pretty good grades"  Well, 'duh! She's a smart kid, just has a hard time staying focused so, she decided to get good grades and boy did she ever! Her teachers were SO proud of her and everyone mentioned how they noticed her hard work and attitude. She was walking on clouds when she left, super duper proud of herself. Now we need to get this to "stick":)

                      1st semester            mid semester
English            C                             B
Experimental Science                     A-
French             A                            A
Life Science    C-                           B+ this is the grade she is most proud of and worked hardest at
Phy Ed           A                             A
Pre Algebra    B                            A-
Reading                                         A
US Studies  B-                                B- her nemesis class, she hates this      class, always has

Billy is living out the Murphy curse in a big way these days which we have mixed feelings about. On one hand, he's such a quiet, rule following kid, we are sort of glad he's perking up a bit. ON the other, the talking in class is distracting to the other students and I'm sure frustrating to the teach. at his school, these conferences don't come with grades and are student led. He had to fill out a worksheet on his progress and then lead the conversation with his teacher and parent.  His remarks about his parents crack me up. He really is 80 years old.  His reading has really improved and is now at the 6th grade level and his math is great on the very linear stuff. Needs some work on the non linear concepts but knowing him, thats not surprising.


Really proud of all the kids. They work so hard, love school and are doing well. Cant ask for anything more (except for a little less of the Murphy curse)


    

Saturday, April 02, 2016

On the road again...Spring Break 2016

So after the state meets, baseball and basketball tryouts and a fried chicken celebration dinner, the family truckster was loaded down and we were off...Spring break this year was a bit tough to plan with all the aforementioned activities and then at the last minute Jet called and informed us we were doing Spring Break again with the Reagan's so off to Chicago we went.

Day One:
We headed to the Wisconsin Dells for what we found out in hindsight our last time, to hit a waterpark and have a relaxing day. The water park concept is  related to the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland, I'll just leave it at that.
Mount Olympus, the Worlds Largest Indoor and Outdoor Theme park is located in the " downtown" area of the dells. It sits on a sprawling several 100 acres parcel of land right next to The Worlds Largest Indoor Themed park, you get the picture.
It was fun to hang out watch the kids ride the water slides and traverse the lazy river, they really did have fun for about 3 hours then we were done.
The dinner choices were limited however they waiting lines were long and we ended up at a pizza place that featured an all you can eat buffet, which none of us got, in fact no-one ordered pizza.

Day Two:
We headed off to Madison to explore the University of Wisconsin, where Tom spent one year of his life he will never get back, but the memories...
we made in to the Plaza for lunch and dined on the Plaza burger, an institution of dining in Midtown for decades. Then we wandered around State street for a while exploring the college scene. The Rathskeller, i.e the Student Union was closed for renovation, which was a bummer. There is a bookstore in the end zone of Camp Randall which has a low fence around the field, low enough to step over and get on the field. So we are now two colleges in a row breaking into stadiums on spring break... where will it be next year?
Jimmy and Billy were doing 40 yard dashes on the field and Ol Bill even had a 19.7 second 1000 yard dash, really fun. Union South was open so we had some ice cream and then went and checked in to the hotel. The Hampton Inn right in the middle of campus is brand new and fantastic. The work out room was great, Kay and Billy had the pool to themselves while Jimmy took advantage of the free WiFi, a nap and a full bag of mini donuts!
Dinner was Billy's choice and of course he chose Greek, and what a feast it was! We wandered around some more, found a great bookstore, Tom found a book he's been looking for for ages and then headed to bed (after catching up on The Middle, Blackish and Modern Family - nothing better than everyone in one bed, watching tv, in a hotel room. Really!).

Day Three:
Chicago, well La Grange, to spend the rest of the trip with The Reagan's. We arrived late in the day and the kids got right down to hanging out playing nerf gun wars, and catching up.
We had a fun filled afternoon and evening along with a down home dinner of chicken, burgers and the like.

Day Four:
It was a rainy, dreary day which made the trip to the Shed Aquarium the perfect go to place. We watched a cool northern white whale (beluga) show along with strolling the the Amazon rain forrest and taking in the underwater sea life, what an adventure!
We spent most of the day there along with the rest of the several thousand people trying to avoid the rain. It was back to Jan's for an all you can eat Orange Chicken feast and watching college hoops!

Day Five:
Early in the morning Tom, Tracy and Jan headed out for a tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW) museum and studio, if was pretty cool. FLW was an odd duck just by the fact that he is always referred to as Frank Lloyd Wright, not Frank or Mr. Wright, is just one case in point. They guy was however a genius as well as super quirky. His house and offices were all designed around the space they were to fill not the type of house or office you wanted, basically if you contracted with him, he told you want he would build for you not the other way around. Really impressive story and architecture.  WE also stopped by the house that Tracy's mom grew up in  (her Grandma's house).  Very nostalgic.

The afternoon we split up with Tracy and Jan taking Billy, Kay and Charlie off to explore LaGrange while Chris and Tom took Jimmy and Jet to see the sweet sixteen games playing in Chicago. The teams were Iowa State vs Virginia and Syracuse vs Gonzaga. The Iowa State fans were extremely rowdy and vocal, however their team never had a chance. The energy sort of left the building after that game but it was a exciting time none the less.
Meanwhile back in LaGrange the ladies and kids were painting plates, bubble tea drinking and feasting on Korean food!

Day Six:
We all meet back up art the afternoon showing of Batman vs Superman, 3D in reclining seats. I will not ruin the movie by saying anything about what happens or say anything about the movie except that Jimmy fell asleep for most of it and Billy had every detail committed to memory, Kay just wanted popcorn.

Saturday night we all bunked down at Chris's house and Tom created yet another culinary masterpiece featuring lemon zest scallops, rosemary spring tuna steaks and chili shrimp, Chris supplied the perfect wine parings and the kids had pasta :)  Jet had all the kids shooting off fireworks on the golf course and Kay had everyone decorating eggs for the next morning.

Day Seven ( Easter):
Kay had been obsessed all week about the Easter Bunny making a showing and even went so far as making and dying the eggs along with stuffing the plastic eggs and hiding them in Chris's yard. Easter morning came the hunt was a success, Chris made us his house specialty of hash browns , eggs, bacon and pancakes (the #1)











































. Unfortunately all good things have to be  suspended  and it was time to head home.

We had a blast and the Regan's were fantastic hosts and playmates and we look forward to the tri-fecta of Spring Breaks in 2017!


Sunday, March 20, 2016

State Gymnastics!!

Kay is very proud of her performance at state despite the extreme nerves.  To cut to the chase, she placed as follows at level 7 in the 12 year old age bracket...

~ Tied for 2nd in floor with a 9.4 and the 1st place winner got a 9.45 - holy cow that was close and her best floor routine this year - its such a fun unique routine with music from macklemore - I love it!!
~ Tied for 10th in the bars with a 8.5, she made her giant but took a bit of a step on her landing and was arched in her giant (see how much I am learning?!)
~ Did not place in vault with a 9.1, they go to 10 places and its shocking she didn't place with that score since thats a killer score. The #1 place got a 9.4 so the scores here were really really tight
~ Did not place in beam with a 8.55, not her best beam performance, serious wobble on her back handspring but she managed to not fall and stayed on the beam, thats our girl!!
~ 9th overall for the all arounds!! Her comment "thank god I got a great score not the vault, that made all the difference!"

For comparison, she was 12th overall at state last year so, she's moving up:) And, she was the only one from her level and her gym that made state.

Also, interestingly enough, at level 7 you aren't able to go to regionals but ... at level 8+ you can. In order to get to regionals you need a 34.  Kay had a 35.6, so, if level 7s could go to regionals, she'd be totally in.  For perspective, the #1 all around girl, level 7 age 12,  had a 36.2, thats 1 wobble on the beam away from 1st and that tells you how close these competitions are. She's definitely in the hunt:)

Her coach said she continues to work hard, have fun, learn new skills and push herself - his philosophy is not mastery, its "good enough" and we love that! He doesn't require mastery at every level (if he did, she'd be in the same level multiple years in a row) rather he wants the kids to stay challenged, keep learning and have fun. His goal is that they enjoy a LONG career in gymnastics and doesnt push them to get 1st or 2nd - he said he's seen too many gymnasts push too hard early, taking top honors in level 4,5,6,7 and when they get to 8,9,10, they are burned out and quit, right before they start high school or college competitions. He wants Kay to be able to (and have fun) competing in high school and then college so he wants her to keep improving but not win and still learn new skills and have fun.  I really like that.

Here's some good snaps of our very competitive serious lover of gymnastics:)