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


Kay unpacking her major award

 Heaven on earth for some

The gang


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    

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Billy and Belt Testing

Billy has been deep into Taekwondo and practicing heavily these past few weeks to get ready for his first belt test here in the US.

Billy is no stranger to belt testing as he currently owns 10 belts since the Taekwondo journey started three years ago. He's diligent, confident and he really enjoys the sport.

Billy would began his day with several practice rounds of patterns in the hopes of mastering them for the test. Then he would end his day the same way. Taekwondo lessons and private lesson during the week and mindless electronics training on the weekend, a kids needs a break now and then :)

The testing day finally was here and Billy was ready, albeit a bit nervous, but with Zen like focus he bowed and enter the dojang with his goal in his mind and in his heart. The place was packed and even Mr. Lemon was surprised by the turnout, many young grasshoppers ready to advance. The whole group warmed up and stretched out preparing for the upcoming test.

Billy was focused and was having a good time smiling and interacting with the rest of his TKD buddies. He was perfect in form and when it came time to break his first board, WHAM, bring it on!
The whole test went on for about an hour and a half and when the dust settled, Billy was one of only 4 kids to have ever received their brown belt and he was very proud and all smiles.

Once we got home and things settled down we were hanging Billy's old belt on his " belt board" with the rest of his belts and Billy leaned over to Nikki and in his quiet way whispered to her. " look Nikki, I did it!"

We are proud of Billy and his commitment to his sport!
Way to go Billy!!!

(A few side notes, it seems that our sign was the 1st sign EVER at a belt testing in 13 years, everyone loved it! The red uniforms are for those that have been invited to black belt club, a big honor!)

Monday, March 16, 2015

The BEST St Pats Day Party and Parade EVER!

60 degrees, good friends, beer, food = The BEST St Pats Day EVER!!!
Telling the story through photos....
BSM class or '79








Old and New Attendees



Saturday, March 14, 2015

Jim Fellows is boring

HAPPY 50th BIRTHDAY Jim Fellows!!

Last night Jen Fellows threw Jim Fellows a killer surprise 50th birthday roast. Hosted at Buca (way yummy foods) everyone took turns telling Jim Fellows stories and Jim himself even got into the action at the end. It was so fun to see and be with all their dear friends and family that we met at the wedding. REALLY good times. Tom emcee'd and wore a tux with converse and jeans. They made Jim "masks" that we all held up when he came into the room. Some great stories were shared:

Jim getting arrest at all of his youth retreats
The girl from imponema
Veggies that make your pee smell
Jesus Shaves
Tom's career as a lawyer and judge (the best practical joke on Jim in his entire life)
Unhouse trained rabbits
Buddha cats named Gar
Lots of fart jokes
the list goes on an on ...

Jim is such a good friend to so many - it was so fun to honor him and have some fun/love together.

We love you Jim Fellows!  Here's to another 50 years on this planet!!
Amanda and Karen - smartest women we know!

Andrea her daughter and Jen's daughter and her friend

Jim and Andrea, his cousin
Jim and Jen

Jim with himself


Tracy with her boys