Monday, December 15, 2014

Kay Gymsatics update

Over the course of the last week, we've had 2 gymnastic tournaments. For some reason, Kay's age/level always pulls the night slot. Sunday it was a 6:30pm slot (yep, awards were at 10pm and we got home at 11pm - burger king drive through never tasted so good!) and Friday as a 5:30pm start (home at 10:30pm but the competition was right across the street from our favorite Korean restaurant, Mirror of Korea, so we loaded up on kim bop (sushi) and mondu (potstickers)- YUM!! plus we gave Mrs Choi a hug and she hung up the kids new school pictures on her board. Its an annual ritual.)

Peppermint Twist - Sundays night tournament was HUGE! In the convention center and they gave each of the girls a new leotard, it was the 25th annual meet and so very special. Kay started out the night with her floor routine (her best event) and did well with a 8.95. She was behind on the music (an ongoing challenge as she's doesn't have any rhythm - as Jimmy always points out) and didn't quite stick her back tuck landing. Its a bummer since she can stick her back tuck landing in every practice.  Vault was next, remember, last year this was a big challenge for her, she didn't have much control and was so strong and fast and light that she'd just go flying over the vault. This year is the year of mastery and she got a 9, woo hoo!  Beam is a bit intimidating this year and she gets so wound up that she rushes and makes tiny mistakes that add up.  she got a 8.2 due to a major wobble and we learned that the dismount they were all doing was costing them points. They worked all week to fix it for the next meet.   Finally, bars - this year requires a TON of upper body strength as they have to transition from the low bar to the high bar. All the girls are struggling with it.  She got a 8.6 due to a slight hop on the dismount. Frankly I don't know how any of the girls do it, the bars are so high and they get swinging so fast, I'd be totally freaked out.  Overall - 34.75 with 2nd overall and 1st on vault and floor!  Amazing!!  Jimmy said she should be named team captain. Not only did she do the best in her club (a reoccurring theme)  but she hugged every girl after their event and even was trying to cheer up one of her friends that was crying and upset about how she had done. Kay had both hands on her shoulders, a real serious look on her face and was saying "did you do your best? are you having fun?  by the way, its a yes/yes answer" too cute. 

State - Friday was the state tournament at Hamline, so it was a smaller meet (you had to qualify) but the pressure the girls were putting on themselves was intense.  They had their eye on the competition and it was strong.  Turns out, we've only had 2 meets before state and the other teams have all competed in 5-6 meets - uh oh... Tammy (their coach) was talking to the parents afterwards and she's going to lobby for more meets, earlier in the season next year. vault was 1st and from where we sat it looked like a killer performance, no hops, straight body, but it only netted her a 8.225 - I guess she didn't push off on her hands the way she needed to...hmmm.. we have a lot to learn about gymnastics scoring...Next was bars.  All I'll say is, its really hard to watch your child falter on a routine that you've seen them do a million times flawlessly. 1/2 way through the lower bar she either was distracted or got nervous and her arms buckled.  That threw her off the rest of the routine. She only got a 7.325 - her lowest score ever and you could tell that she was not happy with herself.  Beam was next and she didn't wobble, had the new dismount and got a 8.8. She seemed back on track.  Floor was her final event and she delivered with a 9.  She's so damn amazing but had a slight hop on her back tuck (again, I've seen her do a million times without a hop) - 33.35 in total and not enough to place overall.   She did get 10th in floor and a medal and we think she got 11th overall but they only announce to 10th place.  Once again, she had the highest score on her team and was the only one to medal.  Jimmy was doing a nice job of congratulating her "way to go Kay, you got a medal, this is a big meet, you were the best in your club" etc etc. But... On the walk to the car, she burst into tears. She was so disappointed in herself "I know I can do better, I do better in practice, the 7 was my lowest score EVER!!!" I felt so bad for her. Big long hugs is all you can do.  Part of me is so proud that she is so determined, talented and takes this all so seriously but the other part of me just wants to make it all better. We just held hands and slowly walked back to the car.

Kay is resilient though and was fine by the time we got home.  She's ready to get back to practice on Monday and is looking forward to redeeming herself in the meet in January.

She has the heart of  a champion no matter how she places:)  We love you Kay!!          


Friday, December 12, 2014

Happy 10th Birthday Billy!!!


Happy 10th Birthday Billy!
Billy is now officially in the double digits. He had SUCH an amazing 9th year, it’s hard to imagine how it can get any better when you turn 10 but… he’s going to give it a try:

 Quick recap of last year (all of these are covered in previous blogs so we’ll just hit the highlights):

~ Cancun for Easter – major fun in the ocean and beach, he and Kay dug tunnels in the sand and he and Jimmy body surfed until they passed out
~ Dad/kid camping trip at end of school year – what happens on the camping trip, stays on the camping trip – enough said
~ Lego camp – TWICE this year he was able to go to Lego camp and make amazing creations (some even had motors!)
~ Taekwondo – He went up 3 belt colors this year and started in a new school (not to mention his numerous medals!)
~ Retainer – he got a retainer and had an extra tooth pulled (ok, maybe not a highlight but he weathered both really well)
~ MPLS – we moved back to MPLS and he found a new group of friends and is busier than ever! (Jackson, Jack, Yurga, Liam, Owen, Cole, etc etc….)
~ Nova Scotia RV trip – Billy and Tracy found the big dipper EVERY night and we had a blast zip lining, turbo rafting and walking on the bottom of the ocean
~ Starbase – week long field trip to an actual military base to create rockets on 3D printers – way too cool
~ School – he’s complete 10 of his 20 book reports for school (in 4th grade you have to read 20 books and do 20 reports)

 On deck for next year?

~ Cancun at Christmas with Tracy’s WHOLE family to celebrate Jim and Bunnys 50th anniversary (can you say…COUSINS!!)
~ Taekwondo - 2 more colors until he’s Black Belt and a tournament next weekend
~  School – complete the final 10 book reports and start/finish his culture box (his topic, Korea!)
~ Dad/kid camping trip with Toronto friends – yep, its was so fun last year, its back on this year!

 When Tracy called him this morning to wish him a Happy Birthday (it was a late start at school so and Jim/Kay slept late) and she asked him “how are you?” he said “well, I’m 10 now”. (not entirely sure what that means but it must be significant :)

 











Tonight we are celebrating with Greek food (his favorite), presents and Minecraft brownies (hand made by Kay – it pays to have a bakery creative chef as a sister), then on Sunday is the BIG party at Chuck E Cheese with his 10 best friends. Let’s hope tradition doesn’t hold and their not a snow storm (like last time!). We asked Billy to make a toast at dinner he raised his glass and said " I would like to thank my family for being supportive. 9 was an epic year, meaning it only happens once in your lifetime and 10 is exciting because I am finally double digits and I'm a decade old" Deep thoughts by Billy Murphy.

 When Billy saw the cake that Kay made he said " Wow I did not expect this!", we asked Billy how come he thought he was going to get a bunch of presents and he replied  "I know I will because I live in an awesome family".  
 
 
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Billy – we love you. We love how much you love animals (especially Nikki), how caring and kind and polite you are. You always want to make sure people feel ok and never tease other people. You love science and knowing how things work and are really curious in school and life. You are deliberate and precise which will serve you really well in school and life. You are a hugger and love giving kisses and cuddling. You are funny and silly and very much yourself. You are an old soul and have a lot to teach all of us.  We love your birth parents and foster parents, they did such an amazing job getting you started in life. Think of them today and send them all the love you can. I’m sure they are sending you love right backJ  

  
 
We love you and cant wait to see what the next year has in store!!     

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Ending November with a bang - and a ton of food....

Wow, what a busy but fun few weeks… this is our attempt to get you caught up…
Tracy transitioned back to MPLS from Toronto for her new role and its nice to be “home”.  It came with a WAY overstuffed suitcase and a real lack of enthusiasm from the kids. Either they didn’t notice she was gone each week or they were loving having a bit of extra Daddy time.  In either case, we are now working on what is our “new normal” – but…when you read the rest of this update, you’ll see that “new normal” might be a distant goal…  Tracy is shifting gears into a new role with new partners, team, lingo and a very real sense that things have changed pretty dramatically at work since she last worked in MPLS. That’s good (change is always good!!) but also hard because there are so many questions and its unsettling not to now many (any) of the answers (yet).  She’ll get there but it might take a bit…  She’s trying to be gentle with herself as she gets up to speed.
Kay had her 10th Gotcha Day (the day she came home from Korea to be a part of our forever family) and it was a celebration of us as a family – It was the Packer/Viking game (major event in our house since Tom/Jimmy are Vikings fans and Tracy/Kay are Packer fans) and we invited her godfather Mike (another Packer fan) to the party. We have all the party snacks, attire and energy. She also treated everyone to sundaes from Dairy Queen to celebrate. I SUPER fun day!  So so so so grateful to her birth parents and foster parents for making the unimaginable and incredible decision to love her enough to let her go and thrive with a new family.  Truly the greatest gift of a lifetime (or really, of and for many lifetimesJ). And, you'll notice below, she got her braces off - once her next 9 baby teeth fall out, then they are going to put braces back on - oiy!!
 Next up?  Thanksgiving in Green Bay with Sue!! It was SUCH a mellow weekend and very much needed. 1/2 way through it was like "what?! , 2 whole more days!!??!!".  We drove to GB in a snowstorm, at which it promptly stopped as we passed Wausau, weird. We did the typical Thanksgiving "thing" of football, football, football. Jimmy got us into the W Kentucky/Marshall game, super high scoring and ended in overtime at 67/66. He was crushed as Marshall lost (who knew he was a Marshall fan, but when asked, he reference the movie Marshall, google it) and was cheering his fool head off. Next up, the Wisconsin Minnesota game and bets were placed. If MN won? Sue was going to buy him a Johnny Manzel jersey (more on that later) and if WI won, Jimmy had to wear full Packer attire to Lambeau on game day (again, more on that later). Needless to say, there is a new appreciation and love for the Packers with our 13 yr old (see photo below). ALL topped off by the Packer Patriots game, to which Tracy and Jimmy had tickets.
 
We had a food filled weekend with Sammies pizza (delicious super thin crust and a family tradition going back to when my dad and sue were in high school) turkey dinner (with 2 homemade pies by Kay - pumpkin and berry with homemade whip cream and chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches for the boys) Friday Night Fish Fry (we were in Wisconsin after all and they had the good salad bar with soup, bacon bits and Thousand Island dressing) and fondue (Kays favorite and fun interactive family dinner). Kay also came upon a killer sea salt caramel pretzel recipe that was to die for!!
 
We went to the zoo and fed the giraffes, had a sleigh ride through the botanical gardens light display, saw the Packer Hall of Fame and the Green Bay historical museum and hit some serious Black Friday shopping.
 
Black Friday shopping with 3 kids, that all want different things and don't have any money of their own is not nearly as fun as it sounds... We hit up Dicks Sporting Goods 1st - Jimmy as hoping Nike and a Johnny Manzel jersey would be on sale - alas, it was not to be. Then, off to the 4 sporting goods shops in town for more of the same - again, no dice (not entirely sure why he thought that there would be a Johnnie Manzel jersey in Green Bay NOR why he thought that all Nike would be on sale but...he was getting really crabby, really fast - every time he asked about either, he got a strange look from the clerk).  Then, GameStop for Billy (he had a gift card burning a hole in his pocket and Plants vs Zombies on his mind) as well as Target (Kay needed new clothes/shoes for her choir concert) followed by the mall - Justice, Bed Bath and Beyond, Old Navy, you name it.
 
Needless to say the kids were disillusioned.  We had to explain (many times) that EVERYTHING isnt on sale on Black Friday. Yes, there are good deals but only if they are things you want. The stuff they wanted wasnt on sale. We headed home crabby and mean....  Lets hope that was enough and  it cures them from wanting to go out next year!!
 
It all cumulated with the BIG day (nope, not Thanksgiving, but Jimmys 1st trip to Lambeau).  Grandpa Jim and Grandma Bunny  are now the proud owners of season tickets - after 45 years on the waiting list, they got the call. Jimmy was super excited and appropriately in awe when we got  to the stadium, lots of pictures, texts and instagram photos. He cheered SO loud and had so much fun. He really was impressed by the stadium, the fans and the game.   It was a really fun mother/son date night and I think he'll be anxious to go back to Lambeau. THANK YOU Grandma and Grandpa!!!
 
Then - it was the mad dash back home on Sunday night. We had an easy drive and arrived by 11:30pm, just in time to hit the hay and get ready for a full week of work and school.
 
Ahh....vacation:)   
 
 
 


Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Turkey Tumble/ Kay's first Gymnastics Meet

As you all know Kay has joined a new gymnastics team and has been training quite hard for the past three months. Her team has been practicing for this meet and the upcoming meets for the past year so she had a bit of catching up to do. She has been practicing 14 hours per week and then on Saturdays has been doing 2 hours of private lessons to get ready, and man oh man she was ready!

There are four events, the beam, the un-even parallel bares, the vault and the floor. The was nervous to say the least, leading up to the trial practice she was crying and worried she wouldn't make the cut and would not be able to participate in all four events, she was a wreak, and for fearless Kay, that is saying something. In the days leading up to the trial all she could do was worry, and when the trial came and went she did awesome. The day before the meet she was on her balance beam for basically the whole day and when she wasn't on the beam she had to do something with all her nervous energy so like all 11 year olds she decided to create make from scratch cream puffs, which were out of bounds good.

First up the un-even parallel bars, she was determined and made the routine look casual and easy, the judges for the meet were very strict and hammered her and her result an 8.1, not her best but she did great and her dismount was spot on!








The beam, which is Kay's second favorite was next. She jump on and did a great job, most importantly she didn't fall off, nailed her back walk over and her dismount, and received a 8.675' She makes the beam look easy and is very graceful with her execution.







The floor was next, which is her favorite routine and as we watched her practice her routine, for the first time, we were all sitting there with our eyes wide opened in awe, Jimmy finally said, when did she learn how to do that? She nailed her backflip into a tuck into a back walk over like she was standing still! The Orvedahl's came to see her and their only comment was wow Kay is awesome! She stuck the backflip and her ending was incredible and a 9.30 was her top score for the day!









































The vault which has been her nemesis for the past few years was the final routine. She has been challenged by her size and her speed as she gets going so fast when she hits the vault it acts sort of like a sling shot and she sails way past where she is supposed to land, not today. She did a great approach, jump and handstand, flip and got a 8.325, awesome!!!





















This meet it turns out is the last meet in which the girls can qualify for the State meet, so there was a bit of added anxiety, her coach told the girls, do you best focus on what we can do not what we cant and have fun. There we 99 girls competing at Kay's level, which is level 5.  To qualify for State you need to score 32.01 or higher, Kay came in at 34.00 and not only did Kay make the cut to go to State she was the highest ranking on her whole team and placed 9th out of 99, not to shabby for 2 1/2 months if practice!  Samir, the owner of Kay's gymnastics school and the overall head coach was beaming with pride for Kay and even told a mutual friend how proud he was of her and how great she did!

Kay was very happy with her performance, her only comment was, Ok now that's over I am ready for the next meet, when is it ? I can't wait!, Nervous no so much look out girls Kay's gunning for State!
Way to go Kay we love you and are super proud of you!!!




Friday, November 14, 2014

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Date Weekend aka: Mini Vacation


Tom flew up to Toronto for a date weekend with Tracy; see where she lives, get together with friends and eat great food. The perfect combination for a mini-vacation.The flight was a success and after the airport pick up, it was off to Port Credit (where Tracy has a temp apartment) to get settled and look around. Port Credit is SUPER quaint and cute, right on Lake Ontario. We wandered around town, Tom had a burger at The Burgers Priest (famous for burgers in Toronto) and we plodded our plan for dinner. We saw the harbor, an incredible Loblaws (full aged meat locker and cheese cooler) and took a peak in all the little shops.  AND…Tom even got a nap in.  Nice?!

 Then, it was off to boxing. Yep, Tracy dragged him to boxing to show off her new skills (just kidding) but really to show him what a quirky fun family place it is. Boxing is way harder than it looks, it’s a combination of speed, strength, endurance and concentration. We had a killer workout on all fronts and then headed out to find dinner.

 

Dinner was amazing – Colossus Greek – It’s a family owned restaurant in walking distance of the apartment and seriously in the top 5 of the best Greek meals we’ve ever had. You know its good when conversation takes a break so that you can just enjoy the food.  Post dinner we walked to Lake Effects; a total sailor bar with live music on the harbor. VERY low key, almost a dive bar and super-duper fun.  Its where all the people that live on their boats in the summer hang out and there were a few people ordering gin/tonics, not ready to give up the ghostJ  The crowd was friendly and obviously knew the singer/guitarist. It’s a “local” joint. We love those!!

 
Saturday we took the Go Train downtown and headed to George Brown to catch up with Tom’s friends/chef professors. It was super fun to catch up and just kibitz.  (Foodies, all they talk about is foodJ)  I think Tom felt a bit homesick as we were leaving. It was such a big part of his live/experience in Toronto and there really isn’t anything like it in Minneapolis :(

Then it was off to meet up with more chef friends at Caplansky’s; a kosher deli that is famous in Toronto for its smoked meat. They did NOT disappoint. Who doesn’t love a diner that serves beer!?!  In fact, there is a barley beer made just for them which is served with a pickle and, I have to admit, goes VERY nicely with a Reuben.  We had all their specialties (fried pickles, latke’s and the final stab to your arteries – homemade cake donut holes with maple syrup and bacon bits) – holy cow was it good!

 After the beer and food, we needed to move around a bit so it was off to Kensington Market, Tracy’s favorite place to people watch and just mill around.  We went to our favorite cookbook store, bakery, Mexican spice shop and a Portuguese flea market.   (are you sensing the foodie vibe for the weekend? J)

 





Saturday night, we hit the old neighborhood and had dinner with Rod, Peggy, Russ and Kim (our best friends from Toronto) for some steak, veggies, and an 80’s dance party (did I mention the wine and beer? J) It was great to just catch up and it made us realize how much we missed the neighborhood and our friends. BUT…we’ll be back for a few days at New Years and so have made plans already!!

 Sunday was VERY low key, long walk along the lake, late brunch and then Tom needed to get to the airport to head home.

 t was hard to drop him at the airport and know that it’ll be another week until I’m back.  Only 2 more weeks of commuting, so at least the light is at the end of the tunnel. But, in any case, it’s hard to not be home.
It was a really relaxing but too short weekend. A HUGE thanks to Grandma Kay for watching the kids and holding down the fort.

And…Tom got home just in time for the snow.
Lucky himJ

               

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Happy Hadoween!!

What a fun weekend?! Halloween in all its glory:)  (FYI, Jimmy used to call Halloween, Hadoween - its stuck)

Friday - the kids had a party in class (thanks to Tom for stuffing treat bags and running around getting games/activities set up), came home, but their costumes on and were ready to roll.  Kay went out with Victoria and Carmen (zombie bride, unicorn and Pippy Longstocking) in 3 different neighborhoods.  They RAKED in the candy.  Kay made gift bags for us to hand out, including 4 different types of candy and a can of soda each.  We were THE house, unfortunately only 4 trick or treaters came by to find that out (we live on a small street without lights or sidewalks).

Billy went out with Cole and Zack (skeleton, grim reaper and a mime)  Tom and Niel chaperoned as Thing 2 and Thing 2 (yep, somehow we lost our Thing 1 costume and ended up with 2 Thing 2 costumes - very strange, but again it was Halloween!)   

Jimmy is way too cool for Halloween, being 13 and all. He and 4 of his friends hit the club for 3 hours pick up basketball. I think adding him to Tom's club membership is some of the best money we've every spent. They came home happy and sweaty.

In true neighborhood fashion, we had pizza and beers at the ready. A number of folks came and went it and it was fun to just be really casual and hang out.

Saturday - a REALLY cool experience!! We headed to St Paul (Hidden Falls Regional Park) with Larrie, Allison, Jessi, Ang, Wade, Caden and Wyatt to see the BareBone production of Metomorphosoup. Its a large outdoor theater on the river, after the sun went down, full of oversize puppets, actors, singers, acrobats, stilt walkers etc.   They all had on goulish makeup and there was a life orchestra. It was the story of the creation of the earty, including fire, spirits, dinosaurs, Neanderthals and a remembrance section where people shouted out names of people that had passed.  Allison brought hot chocolate and snacks and it was really cool. The best part was either the ocean scene where they had a huge blue tarp that they waved to sound like waves crashing with floating, glowing jelly fish, shrimp, crabs, fish, etc OR....the HUGE dinosaurs that were crafted on top of these bicycle contraptions. The stegosaurus had probably 4 different people peddling and working the controls. SUPER cooll (of course Billy knew all the names of the dinosaurs and was giving me a running commentary.  Then, it was back to our house for chili and a fire to warm up.  Super interesting and unique thing to do on All Saints Day:)