Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Happy Memorial Day!!

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day and took some time to reflect on what and who is important in your livesJ  Our weekend was filled with friends, who are like family to us, so it was very special and relaxing. We had dinner with Jim/Jen and met their new puppy Baxter. WAY too cute. Then we had a family sleep over with the Millers and enjoyed watching their cat Paulo stalk Nikki. We also did a neighborhood bonfire and the kids had their 1st taste of summer - riding bikes to the park, playing tag with the neighbors, staying up late, etc... It was really hard to get them movtivated for school today. This is the last week of real work at school. Final tests/book reports/projects due all around. Next week is all about field trips, cleaning their desks/lockers and picnics. The light is at the end of the tunnel!! w

Training – I managed to get in a 25 mile ride on Saturday (road bike) and 33 mile ride on Monday (mountain bike) but the weather was NOT cooperating on Sunday and I spent 2 ½ dreadful hours at the club on a stationary bike. I did 27 miles but I’m counting it as 30 since there is no coasting on a stationary bike. Torture!  Just 2 more weekends until the ride. It’s the final training push where I’m easily bored with myself and you can find me bribing just about anyone to ride with me.  But…I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!!

Fundraising – I’m over the $2k mark and 2/3 of the way to my goal. Really excited for the final stretch of donations to take me to my goal.

Have a wonderful week!
Peace, tailwinds, downhill and cool weather…
T.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Just another typical week...

This past week Billy and the rest of the fourth graders performed the much anticipated Peace Program. This is a tradition at Meadowbrook and was the 19th one. The kids act our different scenarios where the result end up being much better when we look at the world through the eyes of a peaceful solution versus a non-peaceful one. They also sign several songs about peace.
In addition the kids gather pledges at the beginning of the school raising money by reading books. The money is the donated to the Minneapolis Crisis Nursery, who's mission is to end Child neglect and to help families prosper, way cool.

The kids read close to 2500 books and raised $1400.00 way to go! Billy was on stage to present the check and hammed it up. Billy was super engaged in reading all year and finished over 25 books and in doing so will have a trip to the Mall of America and Nickelodeon World, a day off school at an amusement park is a very motivating factor!! Plus, extra bonus, Aunt Sue is going to be a chaperone!





Kay had a very emotional past week as we celebrated her final band concert, not of 6th grade, but ever. She fought through the decision to hang up the trumpet, deep soul searching, talking at depth with Jimmy, and she came to the conclusion she didn't care one bit about band so way waste her time.
She brought her trumpet home once this entire school year, once, either she is a musical genius or just really self aware.












In any event, Kay along with the 5th and 6th grade classes at Meadowbrook played their hearts out.
They preformed two concerts and did have  a farewell send off to their band teacher, who is leaving to become the entire district music coordinator, a big job but we will miss Mr. Thompson.



















Jimmy, on the other, had 6 baseball games over the weekend and,  insert drum roll here, got his haircut. We did not have anything to do with the decision or the way in which he chose to have it cut, however the haircut is both mom and dad approved! The fear was that his baseball cap would not fit, but fortunately he has a big head. The team played its heart out and when the dust settled they came in third, which is awesome for the first tournament of the year. By the end the kids all had ice on their arms, fell asleep in between games and even had a couple of out of the park home runs in the final game. The season is just starting so more to come. Jimmy had a couple good plays as well, stealing home, throwing a kid out at 3rd (his life long dream as catcher) and a triple. Woo Hoo!

Jimmy also has his end of the year concert for 7th grade and for Jazz Band. In his words they did not do so well, but to the lay ear it sounded great. Jimmy complained that the teacher changed the tempo in the middle of the song and everyone, well except him, was behind and slow. He also has had this running feud with the other drummer in Jazz band who seldom shows up for practice but still gets to play at the concerts, drives Jimmy bonkers.
It was a fine way to end the year, and now he has committed to summer lessons for, drums, sax and piano, YIKES!  not to mention a full week of rock band for which Grandma Bunny and Grandpa Jim will be in town for. Fun:)

During all this chaos Tom's Aunt, and the kids Great Aunt Marylou celebrated her 85th birthday. Tom, Kay and Billy were able to attend, while Tracy and Jimmy were at baseball. It was fun to catch up with the family and extended cousins and the picture of Tom's mom and her sibling's tells the story. Happy Birthday Marylou!!!

The summer is rushing up at us, school drawing to and end........more to come.
Love,
TTJKB&N

Monday, May 11, 2015

Happy Mothers Day!!!

Tracy had been travelling all last week and the kids, well mostly Kay, was intent on giving her the best Mother Day Ever.
She sat down created an agenda, complete with door signs and a to do list.

The day started with Kay bounding out of bed at 7:30 (which we were worried about it being a bit nearly) however it was a false start, she needed her kindle to look up dessert recipes and other components for the evening meal....

She started in on breakfast around 9:00 and for the most part kept on track making Tracy breakfast in bed. The meal consisted of a fried egg in a piece of heart shaped toast with avocado smear, bacon, toast points and yogurt with blue and black berries along with grapefruit juice, a big hit!

Tracy was able to take Nikki for a walk and Billy rode along with her. She got home and jumped on her bike to only get a couple of miles away when the rains came :(
Then it was off to Jimmy's baseball game and his promise to do well for her, which he did however the team they were playing has the best record thus far, Jimmy and the boys stayed right with them but fell 5-3, Jimmy did catch for most of the game and Tracy loves to watch him behind the plate.

Next up dinner, Kay banished Tracy to the basement and set about in an almost ADD fashion to make dinner. She made a pasta and meatball bake for the boys along with lemon seasoned green beans. For the main course she created  Cajun chicken pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, oregano and basil and paired that with a roasted kale with red onions, garlic, lemon juice and topped with basil and lemon zest as well as crusty bread, super yummy.

Dessert followed the clean up featuring lemon bars with lemon zest, mint brownies with fresh whipped cream and a Chocolate Mousse for Tracy, all Foodie all the time with Kay. Then it was time for presents. Billy made a super card for the worlds greatest mom along with a couple dozen origami cranes. Kay (as usual) had a list, nail polish, tea, coffee cup, Carmel sea salt chocolate bars, a mason jar full of secret items that needed to be put in a mason jar, also a pedicure from Tom.




It was a great day to spend with a great Mom, partner, friend, parent. Tracy is always looking out for us, creating fun things for us to do and she is a pretty awesome MOM. We Love you and we are blessed everyday with you!
To All Mom',s everywhere we say thanks you and Blessing to you!
Love,
TTJKB

Saturday, May 02, 2015

The Level 4 & 5 Year End Gymnastics Celebration

Which was the perfect excuse Kay and Tom needed to go out and buy a chocolate fountain.....

The group of girls all had a pretty good year and Kay was adamant that we have a celebration and in true form no one was allowed to bring anything you know like we were having a birthday party, its Kay her plan.

So we had 12 girls and some of their parents over for an afternoon/ evening of games, food tree climbing, back flips, some drama, you know gymnasts'. The girls spent the whole time outside and had a pretty grand time.

The chocolate fountain was making it's debut and while we were getting it prepared the girls had apparently broken into two groups. One group was making up mean songs about the other group and when Kay heard what was going on she went over to the song makers and told them " this is my party and there will be no drama, if you can't be nice I will send you home and no chocolate fountain", all was calm after that, don't mess with her, she hates drama.




Of course no celebration that Kay is involved in is complete without a cake, enoughsaid!

We had a bonfire and enjoyed our almost completed back yard, more on that later.
Way top go Northwest and we are proud of all the girls!!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Deep Thoughts by Billy

A few deep thoughts - by Billy A thunderstorm was building, he steps outside and says (as only any good 80 yr old man can) "I smell rain". Then, later, as its thundering and raining, he says "isnt the rain so soothing?" Followed by, a fwe minutes later ... "and it makes me have to pee". Way to ruin the mood:)

Friday, April 10, 2015

We are who we are… Jimmy’s Gotcha Day, 13 years ago …


Each year we celebrate the day our kids came home to be a part of our forever family. Of course, Jimmy is the one that kicks off into being a family and today is his Gotcha Day. Rather than the traditional blog post on Gotcha Day, I got a little reminiscent and looked back at prior posts (see links below).  And, had a revelation…. We are who we are….


Much of what we write about (for each kid) is similar year upon year. They get bigger, smarter, funnier  but they really don’t change at all. Jimmy is still outgoing, kind, funny, sports oriented, competitive and independent. (Don’t be fooled by the sullen look in this photo – he’s practicing being “cool”)  Seeing how that is developing in him is such a gift.  As a friend answers, when asked “is it nature or nurture?”  - its neither.  Nurture their Nature. I love this and that’s our mission as parents.  Help make them the best “them” they can be.
That was then...





                                                                                                                        This is now....

Here’s a taste of the blog last year….  


As we went around and talked about our favorite parts of Jimmy (his kindness, his laugh, his determination, his sharing/playing with Billy) it reminded us how much he is still the same talkative, happy, outgoing kid that he was as a baby.

We talked about how we met Jeff/Karen and then traveled to Korea with them to meet our boys. They met Hayden 20 min after we met Jimmy and we traveled home together. Jimmy eating and talking, Hayden sleeping.  They are such important parts of our memories of that 1st and amazing adventure.

Jimmy - we love you. We also love all the people that cared for you SO much that they nurtured and loved you only to turn you over (forever) to people they didn't know from 1/2 way around the world; starting with your birth mother/father but that also includes the doctors, nurses, social workers and your foster family.  If that's not love, I don't know what is....         


If you want more of the same (and some really cute photos) check these out!  Not sure what else to say other than – we love you Jimmy and we promise to do whatever we can to make you, your birth parents, your foster family and the universe proud of us as your mom and dad.


5 years ago



4 years ago



3 years ago



2 years ago



Last year


Monday, April 06, 2015

Vacations all I've ever wanted ... Vacation, have to get away - name that tune!

 
1st the photos - then the run down....

 
 
at the bean! (Yes, I think Jimmy grew on this trip - again)


Jan Jet and Charlie
 Serious fast slide

The major award
 

He looks like a deranged Easter Bunny

The HOUSE


Kay unpacking her major award

 Heaven on earth for some

The gang

Memorabilia

Trying on stuff
 Football! we were inspired
even got some servicemen into the game

Billy getting a strike

Science museum - they may have accidently learned something too


The motion simulator, shocked no one threw up
Wind tunnel up to 78mph

 The hunt is on
A big blue egg for Jimmy

Coordinating eggs for Billy and Kay


Now the back story.......

Yes, we loaded up the family truckster, channeled the Griswolds and headed out for Spring Break – road trip style!!   We called it “Sailing the C’s” (Chicago, Cleveland, Canton and Columbus) and we had a great time!

Ok, why a roadtrip to Ohio and ‘C’ cities vs a relaxing beach vacation?!  Well, we just had an incredible beach vacation with Tracy’s family over Christmas (check out the blog) and just knew we couldn’t top that. Add on …Jimmy’s been dying to see the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ( Cleveland) and Football Hall of Fame (Canton) as well as our good friends Jan, Jet (age 12) and Charlie (age 11) also had the week off for break and were able to join us (picked them up in Chicago). Columbus was a referral from Brian (of Michael and Brian dog sitting fame) and it was worth the trip.

 (As context, Jet and Charlie were part of the daycare my kids were in in MPLS. They are also adopted from Korea and consider themselves our Chicago cousinsJ)

Here’s a day by day, play by play breakdown. (Warning, while we had a TON of fun, it was a trip, not a vacation. It was fun, busy, crazy, educational, memorable, but it WAS NOT relaxing. In fact, the blog itself might wear you outJ)

Friday – grabbed the kids from school and blasted to Chicago for a late night dinner of pizza, beer, soda, ice cream cake to celebrate Charlies 11th birthday – Yeah Charlie!!  The airsoft guns came out and it was all time kid war…  Not to be undone by BASKETBALL BASKETBALL BASKETBALL – Jimmy and Chris were in heaven talking teams, players strategy – fun to watch the games with people that are into it.

 Saturday – headed downtown Chicago to be tourists and see “the bean” – it was a crisp but sunny day and super fun to wander around, take pictures etc. But…even better than the bean…. Maggie Daily park. Newly opened an extreme park in every sense of the word.  14ft straight down slides, tight ropes, tire swings, etc…all on the lakeshore. The kids ran themselves silly, make themselves sick and generally just loved it. HIGHLY recommend it!! We tried some traditional Korean in Korea town and then headed back to Jan’s house for a tasty meal of Mexican pork, hearts of palm salad, green beans, chips, soda, beer and Chris was even able to join us (super fun since he was leaving for Japan the next day).  And… BASKETBALL BASKETBALL BASKETBALL – Jimmy and Chris were in heaven talking teams, players strategy – fun to watch the games with people that are into it. The rest of the kids built the worlds biggest fort to sleep in. Very creative.

Sunday – up and at ‘em early … headed off to Cleveland with Tracy/Jan, Billy, Jet, Charlie and Audrey (12 neighbor girl that was invited along, to add to the craziness) in 1 car and Tom, Jimmy and Kay in the other car. Needless to say – Tracy/Jan’s car was decimal levels above the other car. We watched 3 movies on the way (or I should say, Jan and I listened to 3 movies on the way). We were on a power drive, goal?  The Christmas Story house before it closed. We made it on time and not sure what to say … its really great for diehard fans but everyone else might think it’s a bit silly (it is).  Then, off to the hotel, swimming, dinner, Disney channel movies on TV (Bad Hair Day, don’t even get me started), hair and makeup (Kay & Audrey) and video games (Billy and Charlie) – lights out!!        
Monday – Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, here we come!! Everyone was amp’ed up and it was another sunny but crisp day. Needless to say – this was NOT the highlight of our trip.  You could spend a full week here and still not see everything but…its very based in reading and listening (aka absorbing the information) vs participating. The kids were too amp’ed up to fully appreciate and Jan took them for a walk around the lake shore (and get them treats). This activity also included rolling down the steep grassy hill until everyone was covered in mud.  We found a cool retrospective movie about all the inductees, by year  and watched that with Jimmy for almost an hour.  Super interesting stuff.  We then headed to the famous Cleveland indoor market, bought more treats (crazy fruit, beef jerky, chocolate covered pretzels, etc) before it was back to the hotel and more swimming, hair/make up, video games and Disney channel movies (some teenagey thing with the girl on Jessie).     

 

Tuesday – a quick drive down to Canton and the highlight of the trip – the Football Hall of Fame! We had pretty low expectations, Jan has been and said it was more cerebral and for adults and given the experience at the R&R Hall of Fame, we were skeptical. BUT…it was SO COOL! All the kids loved it (even the girls) and it was so interactive! They’ve really added to it and made it a very cool place to go.  We spent a ton of time wandering around, trying on equipment, calling plays, watching old video, etc… in the gift shop Charlie bought a mini football and the kids headed out to play football on the 60 yard field. They were joined by some servicemen (who were also touring that day) and the servicemen choose sides. The kids had a blast in their touch football game and didn’t want to leave! The weather started to turn (cloudy, high winds) so we found a bowling alley, had lunch and bowled for a few hours. Of course there was a competition and Jimmy won, followed by Jet and Kay. They each got a ‘prize’, picking either lunch, dinner or an event in the coming days.  There was the funniest grandpa bowling in a league that kept coming over and doing magic tricks for the kids, riddles, puzzles.  Really cute and fun. We headed to the hotel and much to our disappointment, while it had a pool, it was an outdoor pool (WAY too cold in March) so the game of touch football resumed on the front lawn.  We then discovered that there was a Golden Corral (our favorite tourist buffet restaurant) and we managed to get Jet & Charlie hooked.   This was Jimmys best day (Football Hall of Fame) and Kay’s best thing about vacation (Golden Corral). Then, yep…you guessed it, back to the hotel for video games, hair/make up and Disney channel TV (Liv & Maddie).

 Wednesday – a few hour drive south/west to Columbus. The goal for the day? One group to the zoo/aquarium, the other to Ohio State. Guess who went where? J It was a GORGEOUS day (low 60’s sunny, no wind) and the real 1st day the zoo was open for the season. They were NOT prepared but the kids didn’t care. They loved it!!  We took Jimmy to Ohio State and wandered around for hours. We snuck into the stadium (Jimmy was so nervous, I’m glad he’s a rule follower!), hit the bookstore, saw the track/field, checked out the women’s hockey arena, walked the oval and even caught a band practice in the music hall with a visiting professor. Very very cool and Jimmy hasn’t taken his Ohio State hat off yet (sorry Dad and Jeff) but…good news, he’s still more interested in Madison, Mich State and Clemson -  Whew! Dinner was Jimmy’s choice (see above competition) and we hit Max & Erma’s. Awesome choice! Think Ruby Tuesdays with really good food and free/warm chocolate chip cookies. Yum! Then, can you guess what was next?! Swimming, hair/make up, video games and…a turn in the parents direction – Modern Family and Blackish.

 Thursday – woke to a gloomy, rainy and cold day and thought – oh well, no worries, we were headed to the Science Museum/Planetarium in any case!  (The COSI is really really cool) NOT an original idea !!! We stood in line to get in for 40 min’s. Crazy! But, we were able to do everything we wanted and were there for 6 hours. The kids learned how to be spies, saw the spring skies, saw the human body in action, learned about mega storms on other planets and basically ran themselves silly (maybe even learned a thing or two?)  This was Billy’s favorite day, by far!  Thanks Brian for the suggestion! We were majorly wearing down and getting ready to head home so brought the kids back for 3+hours of swimming, take out dinner and packing up for the trip back to Chicago. The take out was amazing! Turns out Ohio has Tim Hortons – woo hoo! Jimmy ate 2 crispy spicy chicken sandwiches and Kay got an ice cap.   Small world, only on vacation in Ohio could we get Timmies (a major thing we miss from Toronto) and only in Toronto did we find REAL south indian food (outside of Bangalore that is and what we really miss from India)  

 Observation on Ohio – while very diverse there were NOT many (any?) Asians. The kids TOTALLY noticed it.  VERY limited Asian food in the grocery store and Billy even commented on it at the science museum. Interesting conversations with the kids around diversity, ethnicity, adoption, etc. Car rides are good for those sorts of  things….                                                                                                                                                                                   

Friday – busted back to Chicago through rain, wind, gloom and the kids were great! Our kids read, Jan’s watched movies, no one fought and we were back in Chicago for fort making, air guns, Korean Garden (Jan’s favorite and the kids loved it! Totally reminded us of Mirror of Korea and Ms Choi).  Tom went grocery shopping and made a splendid dinner of steak, potatoes, Brussel sprouts and salad for the adults. Jan was nice enough to let us invite over Carl (best man in our wedding) and Jackie (his wife) and their son Charlie (age 14 and Jimmy and he are 2 peas in a pod!). While we were having a nice dinner the kids were busy tying each other up like hogs with duct tape (seriously).

 Saturday – the long goodbye and drive home. Our goal was to get home by 5pm to watch more basketball and so that Jimmy could have his friends over. Mission accomplished! We got home in time, the kids did the homework and we did all the usual (laundry, grocery, bills, etc) and were able to really enjoy the Badger game. Kay picked out dinner (fondue) and it was a really great way to relax.  I think all the neighbors heard us cheering and the house was “on fire” when they won. Cant wait for the game tonight!!

 Sunday – Kay was dead set on “the hunt” (a big time Easter egg hunt) so we had written out clues and a scavenger hunt before we left for vacation. Tracy got up early and under the premise of walking the dog, set up the whole hunt.  We had to force Jimmy out of bed for the hunt but he did participate (he also did go back to bed).    The kids loved their candy/surprises and we had Jennifer, Doug, James, Sam and Sean over for Easter dinner (ham, beans, scalloped potatoes, Oreo dessert made by Kay –you know, the usualJ)  Tracy even managed to sneak out and buy herself a  new bike for the MS150 (A 2015 Giant Defy) and her 1st new bike in 25 years!! Assuming the ride this year will be MUCH easierJ  

 Nikki spent the week at Michael/Brians with Dharma and Luca. She looks like she had a more relaxing vacation than we didJ Oh…a dogs life….

 

Happy Easter & Spring Break to everyone !!!! Now…I need a vacationJ