Monday, August 18, 2014

Soccer & Select Baseball Play-offs

Not to many people can claim that during the weekend they are planning to move from one country to another their kids end up in an all out play-off extravaganza, well unless your the Loudamericans and then it's just another weekend.

Billy took to playing soccer this summer and was an all in kid. He had no real idea what he was doing but ran around for an hour once a week with a smile on his face and a keen eye on the snacks at the end of each game. The house league play is a great way for kids to start off playing a sport and if they like it there are formats for them to move on to higher quality play and to challenge themselves.
House league for Bill was the way to go. His team had a tough go of it during the regular season and some how managed to peak the weekend of play-offs. There were three games scheduled for last Saturday, with a single elimination concept, you loose you snooze win you play again, and play again they did.

Bill had a go at playing goalie and they team showed up huge for him and they won 6-0, first game in goal and a zero goals against average, not bad! The team was on fire winning each game by a sizeable margin and only giving up 2 goals in 3 games, FIFA level play! Billy was a bit short of the Man of The Match award but none the less first year, first place, AWESOME!

We are the champions my friend...and we'll go on fighting to the end....  come on, sing along!

Did we mention that it was about 55 degrees and started raining in the final game? considering Billy was not dressed for the weather and was the guy that spent most time on the bench, narry a word of compliant. That's our Bill.

Randomly Kay was doing different gymnastic moves and trying to turn the attention towards her, but cute is cute and baseball is what I'm talking about!

Jimmy has really come into his own as far as confidence and team play. Usually he is behind the plate in clutch games and this play-off stand he was called onto the mound, to yes pitch. The Wild Thing (California Penal League) was up to the challenge, however he did not like not being behind the plate. There were  6 teams that made the play-offs and Jimmy and the North York Blues were the third place team. The first game was an elementary baseball game with the skills of the boys besting the challenger in 4 innings and all was good. The problem started with the rain, then the monsoons and ending with the second game being cancelled, causing a Sunday morning game meaning to make the championship game the boys would have to play three games in one day, they were up for it.

In between the games and soccer we celebrated Jimmy's B-day, well we had dessert and he opened presents. The whole turning 13 is crazy and to top it off he now wants to learn how to shave, what happened?

The boys lost the Sunday morning game to the first place team, whom were the only undefeated team in the league and were the controversial member of the division, pretty sore winners ... but enough of that. The boys geared up after the loss to face the second place team, East York. Pitching is the key in these types of games and ours was a bit tired after the first game. As a parent you do not want to be in the position of having your child come into the game with the score tied, two outs bases loaded to be the pitcher, you really don't, trust us on that.  Jimmy has one pitch, a hard fast ball, that's it. The problem is he aim, just saying. Suffice it to say he got the third out.

So after 4 innings the game was tied 6 to 6. we were the visiting team. After our turn at bat in the 5th inning we were up 9 to 5 and Jimmy was back at the mound. A few moments later there were 2 outs bases loaded and the count was full. Now most kids may be a bit nervous in a situation like this but Jimmy was jazzed, had them right where he wanted them. The wind up and the pitch a huge pop fly to shallow center field, his team mate ran and then dove for the ball and drum roll please, game over!!!!

The boys now had to face the team that beat them earlier that morning, a tough situation. Let's just quote Jimmy here who said after the loss," you know what dad?" What son?" I'm choosing to end my season after the second game, we play great and after 6 hours of baseball we all ran out of gas, great attitude.
more to come...

 It was a great season, great team mates and coaches (including Michael at 6' 6" from the Netherland and Fabio at 5' 6" from Toronto but Italian by origin).

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Very proud of the they boys, they played their hearts out to the bitter end.

Go Blues!

And so ended the weekend before our move ...

3 soccer games, rain and a championship
5 baseball games, tough competitive kids and 2nd place  - Really really proud of all their efforts

Now we go pack....

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Thank You Neighbors

Toronto is a fast,fun and friendly city and is a relentless, ever changing, energetic, embracing , awe inspiring wonderful place. The population od Toronto proper is around 2.8 million so in terms of size it is bigger than Chicago. Just outside to the north and west of the city nestled between the 401 and Sheppard Ave, is a magical little place called West Lansing, where for the past two years we have called home.

The neighborhood is about 5 city block wide and 6 block long and in that space we had an incredible time. The families that we met invited us into their lives, showed us a part of Canada and we can only say thank you. The kids have made great friends, as have Tracy and I, we have been to Bar Mitzva's. birthdays, retirement and house warming parties and all of life celebrations (most importantly, not to be forgotten, 5th grade graduation!!) The open and inviting atmosphere really made this place special.

The kids had countless sleep-overs, we had a great many dinner parties and every morning we would have coffee at the comer and solve the world problems - it was home. The guys in the neighborhood would get together to help set up the Cameron School Fair, take the kids on a three day camping adventure, go out into he middle of a rain storm and help the neighbors who unfortunately had water in their basements, and during the ice storm went around door by door to make sure everyone was Ok. The women in the neighborhood would gather on a monthly basis and have a women's social night, get food and clothing to the local shelters, swap kids for play dates, create what was need to make sure the school Fair was a success and to make sure the kids in the neighbor had plenty to keep them happy.

This past weekend our friends Rod & Peggy threw us a going away party. It was a fun and bittersweet event that we are very grateful for. The kids friends were there as were most of our friends from the neighborhood, friends from Tom's cooking classes and a great time was had by all. Saying good-bye is the beginning of a new chapter and we will always remember the great time and experience we have had in Toronto. (see if you can find the photo bombing Mom in the photos below:)) Consider this our virtual hug to Canada Another milestone? Tracy now tears up when she hears 2 national anthems.... O Canada! Our home and native land! True patriot love in all thy sons command. With glowing hearts we see thee rise, The True North strong and free! From far and wide, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. God keep our land glorious and free! O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Friday, August 08, 2014

KCC 2014

We have made a promise to the kids that no matter where are in the world we will make sure they get to Korean Culture Camp, a promise that so far we have managed to keep.
The kids love this week more than anything else and when they get to camp they have a blast. They have even said they'd trade Christmas and their brithdays if they could go to camp every day of the year. Pretty impressive endorsement! There are a few hundred people involved and this year the number was close to 500. The camp is made up of K-6th graders, teen helpers, volunteers and a dedicated kitchen staff of which Tom has become immersed.

This year was a bit different as we were also trying to get several moving home items accomplished, like kids physicals, gymnastic and Taekwondo try-outs, meeting with our contractor at the house as well as a battery of test for Jimmy to determine which electives and regular classes he would be in, it was to say the least tiring.

The week started off we a super fun birthday/lunch with Grandpa & Grandma Murphy and a trip to the park. The kids love going on the zip line that Grandpa introduced them to a couple of years ago, however this year due to size constraints, Jimmy was unable to participate (ie: his knees hit the ground). No worries however as he had just purchased a new guitar and with the help of Grandmas phone and a wifi connection he was able to figure out which note which each string was and then proceeded to tune the guitar and has been playing non-stop ever since!

The trip was full of constant motion going to camp, visiting friends and family. Every night we had dinner with a different group and shared stories and caught up with everyone's busy lives, we also missed seeing several of our friends and family as there is only so much time, the good news is that we are moving back so we can catch up then. What is a visit back home without sleepovers, events flowing from one to the other and generally wearing ones self out with all the fun!

The main event however was KCC and participating in the camp and all the activities that it has to offer. The camp starts each day at 9:30, we however needed to arrive at 9:00 due to Tom being in the kitchen. We also had the good fortune each day to bring Lesia our 4th kid for the week, to camp with us and her and Kay kept up a constant banter about the cute teen helpers! The kids participated in traditional Korean Dance, folk songs, and their favorite class, self esteem, they think it rocks.

No vacation is complete without a vacation within a vacation and so we spent the night at Wade and Angela's celebrating Angela's birthday, the number does not matter, but it is getting close to one that does, enough said! Kay taught Angela the correct way to do a back round off and how to present to the judges. Her parents made dinner, appy's and even provided fireworks to round out the evening.

The evenings were spent with friends and enjoying great food, company and generally just hanging out. The kids got to see a bunch of old friends and they all are excited to move back and restart their school careers in the Hopkins school district. The final Sunday afternoon was spent with The Orvedahl's, sort of like how Madonna, BeyoncĂ©, J-Lo go by one name so goes The Orvedahl's,  a super fun high energy great family. The kids swam, we caught up with Doug & Jennifer who were celebrating their 21st wedding anniversary! In all the commotion and playing there usually comes a defining moment that sums up the whole day and while the kids were playing Hide and Seek, Sean snuck into the kitchen and grabbed a juice box out of the fridge, we asked him what they were doing and explained that while the rest of the kids were playing hide and seek he was sitting on the couch drinking his juice box playing hide and relax!

It was a great primer for the move home more to come...

Friday, July 25, 2014

Summer Camp and TKD

Hard to believe we are half way through the summer and the kids are living the rock star like, well one is literally!

The kids each chose one camp for the summer and true to form they chose wisely, grasshopper. Billy spent the week in Lego camp glorious Lego Camp all Lego all the time, heaven. This year his friend and Lego enthusiast Spencer joined Bill for the week of incredible adventure and building every boy should share. Each day was different theme, Jurassic park, buildings and cranes, monsters, heros and the like.  The boys had a blast and were actually Legoed out by the end of the week.

Kay was again at the Chef Upstairs and this time her friend Megan came along. The days were filled with creating breakfast, lunch menu planning and a trip to the farmers market for the supplies and then creating lunch and everyday a different dessert, crazy good food. Kay of course was in her element and her reputation as a top contender preceded her to camp, the results of the chopped competition are a guarded secret however the smile gave it away!

Jimmy the rock star, was once again submersed in his undisclosed favorite passion, live music performances. He was up early and ready to go everyday, no complaints and off to rock band camp, seriously passionate and ready to go. This year he felt a bit under challenged, but stepped out from behind the drums to play piano on The house of the Rising Sun, He spent several nights plugged into the computer teaching himself the piano solo for the song as the one the camp wanted him to play wasn't authentic enough. The group also played a song from the Skatalites called Confucius on which ne played drums and The commodores Brick House on which Jimmy and the other drummer split the drumming responsibility. There was a kid in the band named Dermot, whom played the Alto Sax and who's name the band built their name around coming up with Dermot and the Frogs, they we awesome.

The week came to a close with Billy in his final Canadian Taekwondo Tournament, this one in Niagara Falls, fitting. Tracy and Bill left the house early in the morning to make the trek to the Falls. Billy waited around for a few hours getting ready and performed awesomely coming in both second in Pomsae and Sparring, way to go Billy! He was super proud of himself and we are too.

Monday, July 14, 2014

In the spirit of the World Cup - Toronto vs Minneapolis

In the spirit of all the hard core rivalries, thought it might be fun to put Minneapolis up against Toronto...who's the "winner" you decide.  Below is a list of our favorite things in each place and we are just happy to be able to call both places home:)

~ LONG time friends and family
~ Food – chili beans in a can, firey hot cheetos, cheez its, spread cheese (there is a theme hereJ)
~ restaurants – Travail, Pig ate my Pizza, Bachelor Farmer, Mirror of Korea 
~ BIKE TRAILS!! Everywhere!! that go for miles and miles and miles and miles
~ Walking Nikki with Kristin and Leo
~ Our house and our neighborhood – the secret spot, Tiger park, Lion park
~ The sports – we miss seeing how the kids friends are doing and being on teams that are made up from kids in the neighborhood school
~ The traffic – or should I say LACK of traffic, we cant wait to say “we’ll be there in 20 min” and have it actually happen!
~ The lakes – nothing nothing nothing better than sitting on a boat, or dock, or beach in MN. Nothing….
~ Football as a national sport and the Vikings Packer rilvalry  

~ New friends and being close to Tracy’s family in Michigan
~ Food – Coffee Crisp, Maggis, Tim Bits
~ Restaurants – Guu, Nak Won, Jack Astors
~ The cemetery Tracy walks through every morning (a VERY good way to start the day with perspective)
~ Our neighborhood -  it surrounds the local school and the kids and walk/bike everywhere on their own circa 1950's
~ The subway and riding bikes up to go downtown and explore
~ The diversity – any announcement from school comes home in 20+ languages
~ The sports – they are WAY serious here, the kids get great coaching and the coaches are so positive and focused on family and school as well  
~ Ice cream trucks!! Its amazing – once it gets warm, they are everywhere and come by the house at least once a week, sending everyone into a frenzy!!
~ Car flags – Canadians are crazy about their car flags, with the World Cup being “on” almost every car has a car flag from a different country on it

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Billy Gotcha day and Kays Birthday

We celebrated Billy Gotcha Day (the day Billy came home from Korea to be part of our forever family) the day we got back from vacation with our good friends Rod, Peggy, Josh and Jake.  It was serendipitious since Josh and Billy are the reason we are friends, they met in skateboard camp 2 years ago.  Part of Gotcha Day is getting to pick dessert, in typical Billy fashion - brownies!  It was a low key day but we spent it being so grateful to Billys biological and foster family in Korea. He is SUCH a blessing and we love him to pieces!! 

On to the Main Event - Kay's 11th Birthday !!
As you know, turning 11 is  BIG DEAL. We covered the friend festivities in an earlier blog so this was the actual day family celebration. She spent the day swimming with friends and then requested fondue and ice cream pizza for dessert. AND...she wanted to open a LOT of presents.  What did she get?!  A new tackle box, tons of lures/bait and 2 new outfits. Sounds exactly like what every 11 yr old girl would dream of for a birthday. She loved it and Uncle Carl would have been way jealous. Shes been arranging and rearranging her tackle box ever since...

Hording her gifts 

A "martini" toast

The ice cream pizza
At dinner we went around the table and said all the things we love about Kay - she's creative, funny, independent, a great cook, generous, silly and a great gymnast. Again, we are so indebted to her biological and foster families for their unbelievable gift to us. She is amazing!
We found the below horoscope for people with 7/10 birthdays. Kay read it and said - Wow, that's totally me!!!
:) We love you Kay!    
Birthday Persona Profile
People born specifically on the 10th of July are surmised to be outgoing and charming with a fondness for socializing yet possess the typical crab delicate emotions. The planet with astrological dominance on this particular day is our Sun making you independent, observant and generous with modest needs. If you have this birthday a creative imagination is paired with a sharp mind and excellent memory. Willful and self disciplined you are fairly ambitious and full of innovative ideas but also strongly family orientated too. Your sensitivity to your surroundings and a well tuned sixth sense direct you to be emotionally insightful and naturally helpful. Individuals with a July the tenth birthday are fairly open and impulsive with a tendency to speak their mind but this will usually be very tactfully. Sometimes overly cautious and impatient you are not ordinarily keen on changes of routine or plan and like to take your time making important decisions in life.

Work and Finances
Favored career choices to a person born on the tenth of July are unlikely to involve working unsociable hours. You are as a rule a strictly nine til five kind who likes to keep in touch with friends and have a full social diary. Your wonderful organizational skills and imaginative innovation make you highly productive and a great asset in any type of workplace you choose. Pay is often unimportant although it is rare for you to accept a salary that is a lot less than you feel your input is really worth. A sensible approach to finances may make you appear a tad mean but usually rather adept at handling them.

Personal Relationships
For a Cancer, the person born on the tenth day of July is typically full of emotional sensitivity and fearful of a broken heart. Daring and adventurous in your professional life you are the total opposite when it comes to love and romance. You constantly need to know and be reassured where a relationship is going as you tend to prefer and seek plenty of stability in your private life. Both carefree and serious you need affection and support to feel truly happy and secure. Your high value of privacy and commitment in a soul mate relationship can cause you to be needy of trust and sometimes overly protective or jealous. Initially shy regarding the physical aspect of a love partnership you are eager to try new things if it is your partner that suggests them. In a long term relationship you are inclined to be noticeably moody if things are not going well.

The general healthiness experienced by those born on July 10th is once in a while jeopardized by a touch of laziness leading to a few bad habits. Staying as healthy as you can is commonly dependant on a nutritious eating plan including lean meat and fresh vegetables. Ideally you may require a menu that you prepare yourself and not just rely on others to decide food options and cook for you. People born on this day should consider a weekly walk or swim to help release stresses and give the circulatory system a workout. Try curbing your proneness for a sweet tooth to assist in preserving optimum dental health.

Strengths and Weaknesses
Your main strengths of character are displayed in the astute receptiveness, strong will and discipline you possess. These positive characteristics in unison help you recognize, understand and make the most of favorable opportunities. Additional fortes are seen in your abilities to organize and be appropriately tactful when needed. Personality weaknesses for those born on July 10th are likely to be more apparent if you have too many things on your mind and are feeling stressed. When these negative traits put in an appearance you can be guilty of displaying uncommunicative or isolated behaviors.

Dreams and Goals
Being born on the 10th of July usually bestows you with a desire to see tangible results for your efforts concerning goals. The majority of your hopes and wishes for the future will be based on material acquisitions and self improvement. You are fairly persistent in the pursuit of desired accomplishments, do not quit easily and willing to keep trying until you reap some real rewards for your hard work. In contrast, when dreaming your aspirations are likely to be focused on emotional success and happiness. Popular dreams are a yearning to be a great parent and a loyal caring spouse.

Birthday Luck and Significance
As you were born on the tenth day of the month your birth date digits reduce to a Root number of Ten. This numerical reference to your birthday has the keyword 'Drive' identifying your ambitiousness, innovation and care with decision making. In the Major Arcana Tarot the 10th card picturing the Wheel of Fortune is associated with your birthday. This symbolizes potential successes and failures in life and highlights your adeptness for seizing the right moment. The lucky gemstone for July the tenth birthdays is a Ruby, wear it for clarity of thought, courage and an increase in confidence.

The typified probabilities of Cancer personalities are believed determined astrologically by the influence of the Moon's power. The actual day you were born on, the tenth of July is governed by the Sun's authority adding the subtle differences that set you apart from your zodiacal equals. Your mix of charm, modesty and highly intuitive senses greatly accentuate the sociable side to your nature. Your talent at quickly recalling memories and information along with your situation appropriate seriousness and tact are admirable qualities that can help you progress favorably in life. A final thought to end on for people born on the July the 10th is to overcome your touch of shyness as this could possibly hold you back.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Schools Out, Michigan and the 4th of July

I always default to the oldie but goodie, Schools out for the Summer, a Alice Copper mega hit, which plays over and over in mind as the school year draws to an end and the thoughts of spending the next months with the kids 24/7 YIKES!!

This school year was awesome, fun, the kids learnt something and the field trips were super cool, I mean a working farm and planting our very own water flowers, to name a few. It will be bittersweet for Billy as he and Ms. Cutts are breaking up, as you see Ms. Cutts was Billy's 2nd and 3rd grade teacher and she will not be teaching 4th grade next year. She was a great teacher and helped keep Billy on track and focused, which is no easy task, Thanks Ms. Cutts.! As you all know from the previous post Kay is now a graduate and moving on to Middle School and more adventures there.
Kay brought
treats to school about once a moth and she had to out do herself for the end of the year treats so she made cookie monster cupcakes, 48 of them..

Jimmy will now be a Canadian 8th Grader and has a great group of friends, whom I may add have sent our food budget through the roof this year coming over to the house 2-3 times per week to play rock band on the wii, and eat as many chicken nuggets, corn dogs and hot pockets they could get their hands on and drinking coke by the case, it was super fun. He had the group over for an end of the year hang out and pizza party on the  last day of school which lasted until we kicked them all out and told them to go home, we are going on vacation, Michigan here we come!!

We picked Tracy up at work late Friday and headed west as far as we could go until the road construction and tiredness over took us and we needed to stop, around mid-night we ended up in Frankenmuth, MI, a lovely quaint spot on the map. Saturday we were up and at em and made it to Glen Lake without incident and got settled into the cabin, stashed out stuff and headed over to see Granma and Grandpa Hickey. The day was great the kids played in the lake and we caught up and had a nice afternoon. No trip to see Grandma Hickey is complete without Chalupa's and this was no different! We settled into our rented abode and everyone crashed after the events of the last couple of days.

Sunday we explored Glen Lake, the town not the lake, and of course Kay was on the hunt for some unique and odd item only the mind of an almost 11 year old could come up with, drum roll please; Fudge, and she was obsessed, " Mom and Dad, all some towns have to have a fudge shop". The is this place call Bear Paws, if you read last years post you will remember it is famous for 2 things, giant gummy bears and pizza. The giant gummy bear market seems to have dried up in Glen Lake as they no longer stock them however the pizza market has not. 2 larger family pizzas, 4 adults 3 kids, no leftovers and smiles all around, you gotta eat there! There is a tradition at the cottage that at or as near to 5:30 as you can everyone meets on Aunt Lynn & Uncle Gary's deck for happy hour and watching the sun set, will not set per se but you get the idea.

Monday was set for a dunes walk. The dunes is a picturesque place that extends from Glen Arbor all the way to Lake Michigan, the walk is not for the faint of heart or anyone obsessed with keeping sand out of their shoes. The Loudamericans headed out 2 of us had our sites set on walking the whole way and 3 of us were there for moral support and to help get Tracy and Billy to the top. They made the round trip walk and we ate ice cream, trade-offs. Monday night Tom & Kay put their culinary Skills on display and created a Mexican meal complete with marinated pork, hearts of palm and Kay made several decorations for the platters and it was awesome!!

Tuesday was Tracy's last day as she had to get back to Toronto, so we decided a family bike ride was in order. Grandma and Grandpa are volunteers for the State Park, which encompasses most of the area and have the cool bike vests that they wear as Bike Path Ambassadors, so at least we would break any rules or get lost while they were with us! Then it was back to the lake for a swim and lunch.
Grandpa and Grandma took Tracy to the airport and the rest of us lazed around the cabin some begging for a wi-fi connections others reading a book. Jimmy has been obsessed with the World Cup, changing team affiliations with every goal and cheering like a banshee.
Grandma stopped by the Library and picked up a movie that Jimmy has been literally dying to see, Month Python and the Holy Grail, so after dinner, Grandma and Grandpa , who have not seen this 80's icon of a movie, innocently asked do you guys want to watch this? Is it any good? The movie was basically on a continuous loop in the cabin for the next few days, both Jim's ( Grandpa and Jimmy) were laughing so hard they couldn't stand it, it was entertaining.

Tracy's sister Tammy and her three kids, Georgia, Joey & Herby showed up on Thursday and the next few days were pretty much the same it went like this:
Breakfast at 10:00 outside for world Cup inspired soccer, break at noon for a swim and then baseball inspired by the pending All-Star Break, a quick break while Kay did a few dozen back hand springs into back walkovers, then into the lake for wind surfing, tubing clam seeking and other lake type activities, the 5:30 would roll around, you get the picture. In between we would have lunch, play an occasion game of pig or horse, then back to  cousin time, it was great.

Friday was the 4th of July and Glen Lake does their parade up proudly. Grandpa and Grandma rode their bile sin the parade with the rest of the docents, the parade itself is about an hour long with the added bonus of every float heaving candy into the crowd at a break neck pass, it is a bigger haul than most big town Halloweens! The kids were on a sugar high for the rest of the day! Tracy & Tammy's cousin Jami and her husband Kurt along with their 2 kids Kiera & Reece joined us and their kids fell right into the mix, soccer, baseball, lake, basketball, backflip, lunch, Month Python, repeat....
Grandpa fired up the Webber and we had burgers, brats all the fixing you would want for the 4th!!

Saturday we had to say goodbye as it was time to head back to Toronto. It was an awesome week full of great memories and a huge THANK YOU, to Granma Bunny and Grandpa Jim for all the fun,  and a great time.
A brief side note it seems that Alice Cooper is such a fan of square hamburgers that he was recently was inducted into the While Castle Cravers Hall of Fame, seriously
more to come...