Sunday, October 19, 2014

THE weekend ...

What a gorgeous fall weekend and we made the most of it!!

Friday - impromptu make your own pizza party with 2 other families and 7 kids. Super fun and chillax. Kay had a sleep over and Jimmy and his friends were having fun watching Wayne's World 2 (not very good).

  Saturday - Tom, Jimmy, Anders and Craig went to the U of M homecoming football game against Purdue and it was a crazy long fun game. In the end the U won by 1 point. They had breakfast out "How may pigs in a blanket do I get with the 3 pigs in a blanket" - Jimmy Murphy who then started laughing at himself. They took their photo with the Heisman trophy and got to stand right in the middle of the U pep band. Way too much fun for football fans.

Tracy took K and B to Maleficent (REALLY good movie) and then a nature park where they hiked and played with Caden and Wyatt for 2 hours while Tracy and Ang chatted. Super fun for all. Then, south Indian feast with Wendy and Annemiek for dinner. Again, good friends, awesome food, fun conversation and the ultimate in relaxing. You gotta love friends who are as close as family.

Sunday - reading, homework and football. Got some yard work done and hoping for a bike ride. Promised the kids Mirror of Korea if they get it all done. Should be another yummy night.

 Here's Kay lunch: (she made it up and then made it herself - she's calling it a Mediterranean Feast) Rice with onions and chicken stock
Fresh green bean/carrot salad with an orange olive oil dressing
mixed veggies with lemon pepper garlic
plain yogart with lemon olive oil pan
fried pita

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ghosts Goblins and Monsters Galore

I dont even want to trick or treat no more - Froggy Fresh "Halloween" Tracy has been in MPLS this week as it was Thanksgiving in Canada and MEA for the kids (ie: 2 free days off school). Its been a good week for her to be back. Lots of final decisions on the basement remodel, helping the kids get their halloween costumes and giving Tom time to go practice on the shooting range before his big pheseant hunt trip in November. All and all, good to be home:) Here's a quick low down... MEA - We bought Jimmy a desk for his room, he wants it facing the door "like an office". Tom tried to put it together earlier this week and got frustrated. His solution? Put the kids on it. Kay LOVES to build things and Bjorn (neighbor friend) and Billy are closet engineers. They are ALL over this!! I think we'll hire them out to build office furniture if this works. At least they are busy and engaged on their day off of school vs being plugged into electronics all day. Halloween - Took the kids costume shopping last night. Kay has a very clear vision as a zombie bride and we got her set up with a wedding dress, fake eyelashes and black/white/red gory make up. Billy had a harder time deciding as he's a bit inbetween the age to be a super hero and something more creative. He finally decided on being a skeletan and he was really having fun walking through the house and "spooking" us last night. Jimmy...well, he's 13 and his idea of Halloween changes on an hour basis, alternating between being too cool to dress up and then wanting to be super scary (he actually said he was worried about scarying himself) We'll see where he lands....

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

quick cute photo updates

Had a few cute photos to share - the 1st 2 are the art project Billy did for school - what I did on my summer vacation. He drew our RV trip, including deep sea fishing, our RV and he and I looking at the stars/big dipper EVERY night (in fact, he kept count of how many days he and I saw the big dipper, major bonding moment AND the density and # of stars in his picture really does capture how bright and close the stars where - you gotta love camping) these are so good and so sweet, I almost had a tear. When I told him how much I loved his drawings, he said "I worked really hard on them, the stars took me 2 whole days!"

Then, here is Kay and Billy all "Hopkins up'ed" ready to cheer Jimmy on in his last football game of the year. They are WAY too cute:)

Saturday, October 04, 2014

1st conference of the year!!

We had our 1st teacher conferences of the year at the Jr High (for Jimmy, the other 2 have conferences in early Nov)

We were prepared to hear the usual.... engaging kid, smart, friendly but needs to know when to stop talking , interrupting and challenging the teacher

But... NO!! Not so this year, read for yourself what the teachers had to say. We are so happy for Jimmy and hope  he's proud of himself. He's off to a great start an amazing kid:)

His teachers all say that Jimmy knows when it is the time to talk and when it is the time to listen, no interrupting!!! A first!  And...he's very inclusive and friends with everyone. He doesn't have just one group he hangs out with. He includes everyone and is friendly to all (my proudest moment:))

 Experimental Science:

Jimmy is going great he has a solid B and that is because there has only been one 12 question test and he got 9 out 0f 12, he is right where he needs to be and doing great.

Things are going to start picking up so he needs to be ready. In two or three weeks time he needs to identify his project for the Science Fair which is in Early Jan. He needs to be better than 90% done before Christmas Break.

 Life Science:

Again doing great has a Bt. She is suggesting that develop alternative study habits, instead of looking at the study guide cover it up and quiz himself, study with a friend things like that.

She also was emphasizing that he and all the students continue to write in their journals and check the portal.

Core Homeroom and US History:

Loves having Jimmy in his class and loves the way he always raises his hand and asks questions. He has an A at 95% and is very organized and inclusive, his teacher loves that.


Asked Jimmy to explain where he was and what they were doing in class, which he did. Was impressed that Jimmy is where he is even though he skipped 5th grade ( which I explained to all his teachers and they all we impressed)

He seems to be a nice guy and very strict which most likely why Jimmy is having issues with him, I liked him. Jimmy has an A and Mr. Johnson challenged Jimmy to develop the habit of asking for help and to do so earlier than later. Jimmy did say that he sometimes lets his mind wander during class except when Mr. Johnson is explain things because Jimmy’s words “ When someone is explaining something to me that is my chance to understand what I don’t know”.


Her first words how lucky she was to have Jimmy in class and how he is super helpful, and the we talked about world travel for 10 minutes after that J

 English & Packer Fan:

She LOVES having Jimmy in her class, beyond happy. Jimmy is the kid that when she asks are there any questions he always raises his hand and asks question even if he know the answer, it is super helpful to her. She also likes that fact that in class Jimmy sings to the class to motivate them to learn, her first words were “ Did you know how great a voice you son has?”


Loves Jimmy his involvement and the fact that he sings in the pool. Can’t wait to work with him this year, loves his spirit and enthusiasm.


I filled him in on Jimmy’s musical history and past accomplishments and involvement and had a huge smile on his face. I explained where we are at with the practice schedule and Jimmy is at a Dt because he has not submitted it yet, Mr. Wolf also asked me to write a note about the mix up with the payment and not letting Jimmy bring home a instrument and he will reflect hat in his grade, basically he will give him full marks and October will be our baseline.
He is going to send out a tryout schedule for the Jazz band and will let Jimmy have more than one if he wants since he plays drums and piano

Sunday, September 28, 2014

sports sports sports

A fall sports update...

Jimmy - football is not going so well, they are currently 0-4 :(  The team is infighting and they are having trouble following the coaches directions.  They also barely have enough kids for a team so they are constantly changing positions, which makes it hard to get a groove going.  This also means the other team just needs to outlast them as by the 4th quarter they are exhausted. Their last game was the best they played yet (and against Wayzata!!) and when I asked why - their response was ... well, we weren't fighting with each other...  Good life lessons. Unfortunately, rather than rising to the challenge, Jimmy wants to switch teams next year. We are hoping they get a win and a little mojo back so that he'll change his mind but... reasoning with 13 yr old boys doesn't get you very far.  Jimmy is playing wide receiver, offensive and defensive line and line backer. He's still extremely passionate and that lands him about 1-3 penalties a game. Thankfully he has some good friends on the team and I swear there is a posse of 13 yr old boys at our house non-stop. (Just waiting for the day that the girls start coming over too - he's pretty darn cute in his uniform and I'd suspect there are a  fair number of crushes on him at school) The season ends in a month and then it's 2 months until basketball starts. God help us...Jimmy doesn't do well when he's not actively in a team sport...   

Kay - gymnastics is going really well! She's in level 5 and that means 14 hours of practice/week plus an extra "private" session (about 16 hours total). Needless to say, she's ripped. The boys are all jealous of her 12 pack abs.   She is busy learning her new floor routine and beams, bars. Vault still poses a problem as she's too fast and too light and just goes flying without much control.  Her 1st meet is in November and then we have meets about every 3 weeks through until February. I suspect she'll do really well and I think she's ready to get back into competition. 

Billy - Taekwondo is a change. It turns out that every dojong has its own forms, style and areas of focus. In Toronto, it was all about pomsae (patterns) and sparring in order to get ready for competition. Here its more about old Korean technique, weapons, self defensive and competitions are few and far between.  BUT...this weekend, he did have a fun tournament. Of course he was nervous because he only have 2 weeks to practice his new patterns and get back into sparring shape (here you can punch and you couldn't in Toronto, so that's also new). He is really enjoying his coaches and donjong but its MUCH smaller than Toronto.  He did ok in the meet, 3rd place in both pomsae and sparring.  In pomsae, you can tell that he had a momentary brain fart and almost forgot what he was doing but them recovered. In sparring, he's a good 2-3 inches shorter than the other kids which means he has to kick harder and higher in order to get his points.  He put up a good show and it was good for him to get back into the swing of things but he also wished he had done better. I think there will be about 4 tournaments a year here (vs 8 in Toronto) and its a bit of be careful what you wish for...  If he does too well, he'll be invited to the traveling team. Not so bad you think,  travel around MN, right?  WRONG! Its a team that travels the US. Not sure I want him making that team or not:)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tom's Birthday!

Happy Birthday TOM!! Thank you for all you do - driving, cooking, cleaning, cheering on the kids in sports, organizing fun activities with friends/family, helping out at school, planning vacation and being a great father, friend and partner. Its a weeklong celebration:)

Last weekend we celebrated as a family with a bike ride up to dinner (tried to hit our favorite dive sports burger bar, Shullers, but go figure, they dont serve food on Sunday nights?!) and Tom had the BEST burger ever at Dolittles. Kay made a peanut butter cake with peanut butter frosting that was seriously to die for! It was a huge cake and all the neighbors got to enjoy it as well:)

Yesterday (actual birthday) He had lunch with his birthday buddy Wade (yep, they share a birthday) at the St Paul Grill. Fish and fries anyone?! Then, Kay made him dinner - herb lemon pork tenderloin with roast kale and garlic baby potatoes. She also intercepted the flowers that Tracy had sent and hid them under her bed so that they could be a surprsie when Tom got home from running the boys to/from music lessons. Way to go Kay!




  And, from what we hear, the kids were actually very nice all day and actually got along. Best present ever! This weekend we'll celebrate more with Wade and family with our new favorite gormet mexican meal - pork, heart of palm salad, safron rice, etc. Cheers to Tom - we love you, we bless you, we are blessed by you - you are amazing!!!! XXXOOO       

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Moving Home

Holy Cow - remind us not to move again for a long long time!! Or maybe its that we planned a vacation of a lifetime right in the middle of the whole thing, or maybe its just that we are a damn busy family.

Let us give you the break out ...

Movers/packers come 8/19-20 - man oh man, stay out of their way!! They'll wrap and pack anything in their sight: garbage, open food containers, sleeping dogs BUT...they are efficient. They had whole house packed in 6 hours (8/19) and loaded on the truck in 6 hours (8/20). You need to be present to answer questions, direct traffic and seriously make sure your lunch doesnt end up in a box somewhere. When we moved TO Canada, they packed a box of worms and dirt Kay had hidden under her bed - pretty darn gross box to unpack 2 weeks later.

8/20-21 - Cleaners, bring it on! We had the whole house cleaned, windows washed (inside and out) and carpets steam cleaned. Plus, good domestic hint, brown magic marker is really magic. Not only does it cover gray hair (Tracy's infamous trick) but it also helps fill in those irrating mini-scraps that kids/dogs gift to wood floors. The above all also means, we were moved into a hotel with 10 bags, 5 people, 1 car and 4 beds. We had to pack 3 sets of bags (vacation, work and 1st day of school) It was practically an engineering/math word problem exercise. Also, close quarters is all I'll say.

8/21-9/1 - VACATION!!! (see prior blog) since our truck was going to take at least a week to get to us in MN, why not go on vacation?! (dont ask us why its a 15 hour drive to MPLS but it takes the truck 7-10 days.....)

9/1-9/2 - After a quick stop back in Toronto to say a final MN goodbye to friends (dinner on Sunday and breakfast on Monday) we were off to the airport. We landed up in MPLS the evening of Labor Day (9/1), headed to our friends to pick up the back to school supply bags we had hid there and off to the hotel to get ready for the 1st day of school. Again, 10 bags (+ new back to school stuff from Target)< 5 people, 2 cars (1 rental) and 4 beds. We packed backpacks, sharpened pencils, laid out 1st day of school clothes, double checked school start times and teachers and then fell into bed exhausted but excited at 10pm

9/2-5 - And we are OFF!! Each of the kids are in classes with at least a few friends and started making new friends on day 1. Jimmy was invited to a bar mitzvah in homeroom (new friend Ari) and Billy has Jimmy's 4th grade teacher Ms Bell. Kay is just thrilled to be with Carmen in class and was seriously dolled up for Day 1. We also started them immediately into sports - Jimmy 4 days/week football plus piano, drums and is signed up for jazz band. Kay has 4 days/week gymnastics (4 hours a shot) and is being reintroduced to the concept of homework. Billy has 5 days/week of TaeKwonDo (loving his new dojong) and piano. It took a few days to get the driving schedule down, but its do-able. Tom is pretty much in the car from 4-8:15pm each day driving back and forth like a gurbil works out. Breakfast was in the hotel lobby, lunch from school and dinner at the nearest local establishment that catches our eye at 8:15pm at night. JJ's is high on our list (good sports bar). We ALSO decided to take advantage of having an empty house (keep in mind, we are still in a hotel at this point waiting for our truck to arrive) and have the entire inside of the house painted, yes, ceilings too. The kids picked their colors: Jimmy = light black which is really gray and unfortunately, he's not thrilled with how it turned out - fortunately, he doesnt really care Kay = turquois - yep bright bright blinding turquois Billy = light blue (he also doesnt really care)

9/5 - Our TRUCK ARRIVES!! - its like a maniac Christmas - they guys get it unloaded and unpacked (which means everything taken out of boxes and laid on the floor to be put away) in 6 hours (again) these people are incredible! At this point, the kids are so sick of hotels that they beg us to stay in the house that night. Tracy finishes making the last bed at 9pm and goal is achieved, 1st night in our new old house.

9/6-7 - Now the real work begins, unpacking, cleaning, hanging photos, organizing, etc... Oh, did I mention we also had our 1st 7th grade Hopkins football game (Jimmy) playdates (Billy Kay) welcome home party (neighbors are so sweet) furniture shopping (new kitchen bar stools and chairs for the hearth room) and baby shower (Jess our friend from India). Tracy got the last photo hung at 9pm Sunday night. We had managed to get the whole house unpacked and put away with the exception of the garages, office and laundry room can shut the door and ignore those. Plus those require a little extra time since you need to decide "where am I going to store these plastic easter eggs? This christmas decorations? these tools? the rollerblades?" Etc. (BTW - Tom is Mr Amazing and got this all done the next week!!!)

9/8 - School & sport starts again and Tracy start commuting to Toronto Mondays through Fridays. Despite the work, its been a really really easy transition back. They kids all have friends and love their teachers/coaches/teams. In fact, our house is the new "hang out" house. You can find any # of 13 yr old boys at our house any day of the week. Our friends are amazing "how did you become 'the house' in just 1 week?!" We have no idea but somebody is going to need to take on a 2nd job to feed all the 13 yr old boys coming through our front door. Man, they eat a lot!!

And...the kids have totally and completely adjusted. They miss their Toronto friends but are having so much fun with their MPLS friends. Talk about resilency and adaptabilty. I'm so impressed, they are our heros. Tom is right back in the middle of all the kids activities, their friends, our friends, his network. Tracy is getting used to commuting. I think its harder on her than the kids (in fact, once again, they dont seem phased in the least) we'll see how long that lasts:)

So, alls well that ends well:) Check out pictures of our new old house! Isnt it nice and cozy!?!