Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Let it snow, let is snow, let it snow

Holy cow, we have been pressuring Julie to bring the boys up for a white christmas and did we get it!
On 12/26, we all headed out to meet up with Tracy's family in Michigan for a week of white, snowy fun.  It was a BLAST!!

In fact, it snowed nonstop from an hour before we got to Tammy until 2 hours after we left Tammys. I think it snowed over 3 feet in 5 days and it was amazing lake effect snow, nice and fluffy. It also meant that we missed the -10+ degree weather in MPLS as lake effect snow usually bring temps of mid teens.  Nice.

We'll share the week through photos...

Daily walk with Mom, Tammy and Julie, through the cemetery and down the lake.  Julie held up surprisingly well considering she hasn't been home in the winter in 20 years.

The boys were busy grooming their sledding hill and trying to find death defining ways to use skis, planks and other random yard implements

Billy loves To dig holes, always has always will

Platform tennis competition.  Jimmy and Joey beat out everyone to have the honor to play Jeff and Grandpa. Jeff and Grandpa nearly beat them too!


The gang eating pizza while getting ready for the championship round of platform tennis

Jimmy defying the weather in short sleeves
The moment before you get hit by a snowball from your cousin
Lake Michigan is gorgeous in all seasons - another daily walk

Grandpa and Grandma gave everyone a session at an escape room. It was adults vs kids. Kids in one room, Adults in the other, whoever gets out 1st wins.

The gang

The adults are OUT with 4 minutes to spare! It was hard and we had to ask for clues but it was really fun and we worked well together.

The kids did NOT make it out. But, we could hear them cheering through the wall every time they got a clue right. Billy was voted MVP and Jimmy is convinced that Billy could have done the whole thing himself, without help. Billy says that Jimmy and Joey were no help at all. They probably would have made it out if Georgia and Kay hadn't thrown all the clues, both new and used, into the same pile


Yogi in the snow


We headed to Chicago with Tammy, Jeff, Georgia, Joey and Herbie after Grandma, Grandpa, Sue, Julie, Cedric and Solomon left. We had dinner at Timothy O'Tooles and the worlds 2nd best magician came by with a few tricks. he was amazing and had the kids captivated. 

And now, for my next trick


Michigan Ave shopping with Herbie, Billy, Tammy, Georgia and Kay - The Nike store

Kay (finally) got her ears pierced!  Super cute!

Georgia's 15th birthday dinner was at Dicks Last Resort where the wait staff are rude and the food is amazing. We all wore insulting hats that our waitress made for us - Kay's said = More Annoying than Trumps Tweets - Tom's said = So old I fart dust  Billy's said = Fart here Tracys said something about a sex machine being out of order and Jimmy's said = I found my 1st pube.  Billy commented "Kay should work here"  Then, 10 minutes later Kay said "I should get a job here".  Too much fun.
Quick drop back to Cmas at Brigids with the other cousins

Grandparents and Dennis/Brigid
The cousins!

Again, Charlie got a Baby Alive doll and both she and Kay were in heaven

Cute group

Catching up with cousins

Sue and Julie

The kids table

Snow ball fight mixed with hot tub party

Loser gets snowballs thrown at them.

More action shots

Kay and Georgia

Billy and Sol

A nice fire by the tennis courts

Another snowball fight

We also watched a TON of football - Vikings, Michigan, Clemson.
Had yummy meals - Indian, Chalupas, Smoked Pork, Pizza
And played some pick up basketball, game of Risk and other miscellaneous family fun.

WE love how well the cousins get along, its always a super fun time.

Happy holidays to all!!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Despite a temp of -3 and a windchill of -20, Christmas came. It came just the same.
Santa was extremely generous, even if Tracy and I had a bit of trepidation. The kids are at that tricky age where they dont really "want" anything and anything they DO want is super expensive. But, they still like opening gifts. Plus, they want to sleep in vs be up at the crack of dawn. (They negotiated a 10am wake up, but. ..Kay did succumb and was up at 9:30, chatty Kathy). In fact, last night was the 1st time they didnt write a letter to Santa. Sort of bitter sweet. However, Santa did prevail!

1st up, the stockings ...  this years treasures were a fork, ear buds, favorite gum, Swiss Chalet sauce, favorite candy, pop its and a candle.  Santa note acknowledge that its hard as they get older but that Santa still believes in them....

2nd, presents.  This year, Tracy and I decided to gift each other new bath matts, bath towels, napkins, a table cloth and new dishes (hence the forks in the stockings).  We wrapped them all up and had the kids (mainly Jimmy) open them. He was a good sport and now feels like he'll be ready to move out when he graduates in 3 years.

Kay had a banner year and is thrilled with all her gifts (no sign of the major break down from last year). A new instant printer for photos, sports bras, a robe, Adidas sweatshirt, dip fryer and - the big kahuna - a new iPhone from Santa. Yikes.

Billy didnt have much on his list but he got it all and is thrilled.  It was a gaming themed Xmas, 2 new controllers, a controller charging station, video game, back up memory and gift card.  He's loaded for bear.

Jimmy was our tough one and worry. The only thing he wanted was a MacBook Pro that he can run Final Cut on (video editing software). These are $2k+ new and we werent in the market for that. We did explore refurbished and he gave us a list of required specs. After calling Device PitStop on a daily basis, Tracy did manage to find one that met all this requirement and was in our price range - It was supposed to come in on Friday but was delayed until after Xmas with all the Xmas shipping. We got a box and printed off the specs and wrapped it up.  We also had him open the other gifts (see above) and saved that for last.  He has major mixed emotions and 1st world problems. He's excited that he got what he wanted but he's really crabby that its coming in while we are in Michigan.  He'll be fine, a good life lesson.  He can't use it when we are at our cousins in any case and waiting a week won't kill him. Still feel bad for him though. Its hard to be 16.

Tracy and I love all our new refreshed home items and can't wait to use them when we get back from Michigan. Plus I got 2 new books and new cookbook.  Tracy got new Packer gear and bike shorts, along with jewelry and face masks (courtesy of Kay).

All in all, we are blessed beyond belief.  We have all we need, are able to afford some of the things we want, are healthy, and loved and will be with my family today and Tracy's family the rest of the week. Doesnt get any better then this.  Love and Peace to ALL!! 

The stockings were stuffed and could no longer be hung...

Sunny, cold day!

Reading Santas note, the handwriting is eerily similar to Tracys

More Stockings plus bags for Michigan in the background

Billy's stocking haul

Getting ready for the 1st git



New Dishes!

The MacBook!

New Phone

New Shorts!

Friday, December 08, 2017

Tis the Season (for kids events, that is...)

The last 10 have brought the typical December craziness of band concerts, orchestra concerts, taekwondo belt testing practice and gymnastic meets.  It feels like EVERYTHING happens in December and, while fun, its exhausting.

Up 1st - Billy's orchestra concert.  Unfortunately, Tracy had a work event that night (a Christmas choir concert with her organization glee club - super fun) so Tom was the lone parent.  It was a combined 7, 8 and 9th grade concert and Billy even brought his violin home to practice! This was the 1st time ALL YEAR that we've actually seen said violin so it was nice to know it exists. His group played 3 songs and did a lovely job.  Its always hard to see Billy because of height issues, but he seemed happy with this performance and he got to sit by his friends. What more can you ask for? Oh yeah, how about a trip to Chicago? Yep, the orchestra takes ALL kids, grades 7 and up to Chicago for a 5 day concert tour trip in May. He's super excited and we dont blame him!  Almost makes me wish I was in orchestra (almost).

And, coming in 2nd ... Jimmy had a band concert the same night Kay had her 1st gymnastics meet. Luckily they were both at the high school and "all" we had to do was run back and forth between the gym and auditorium.  Kay's started at 6pm and Jimmys at 6:30pm so it was almost do-able. We only had to miss 1 of Jimmys songs. There were a few interesting points in Jimmys concert. A) His band teacher didnt talk NEARLY as much between songs as he usually does, so it went pretty fast. B) most of our friends with kids in band were talking about how band this year seems really "easy" and all the kids are complaining that the music isnt hard enough.  Interesting... C) Jimmy's sax broke after the 1st song so he "faked" it, with facial expressions, fingering and movement.  I have to say, I was convinced he was playing. The band played 5 songs and were done in 25 minutes. Bravo!  Jimmy is considering this year his "test" year.  He is also playing the jazz band and the teacher knows that he can play drums and sax. But, in practice this week, another kid wanted to play drums so Jimmy said, "ok, then I'll play guitar". The teacher was floored - "you play guitar too?"  Yep.  Needless to say, he is now teachers pet. He figures he just needs to be consistently good and he'll be in the top try out band next year, at which point the music should get harder and he should be in with the other kids that are complaining about the music being too easy this year.  On top of that, he's thinking of going out for choir next year too. All these music groups go on concert tours so I also suspect the travel is intriguing a motivating factor. We dont care as along as he loves it and participates and gets better.  Wish I was 1/2 as talented.

Kay's meet was interesting.  We haven't posted too much about her decision to move from club gymnastics to high school but lets just say, its been a study in decision making and trade offs. On one hand, she wants to get better. On the other, she doesnt want the pressure of club and is tired of working so hard.  She was convinced that she could join high school, have fun and still get better. After the 2nd practice she came home and said "now I know why high school isnt as good as club. They dont have the same level of quality equipment, coaching and spotting".  Good observation.  Next, competitions. ... She gets majorly stressed out about competing and we are a bit worried since, with club, she only has 5-6 meets/year. In high school, its 16 meets.  Wednesday night, she was a mess.  Crabby, short and we were seriously worried about how much sleep she got.  But, she was up and ready to go early on Thursday.  She seemed to have fun at the meet and the vibe was definitely MUCH more relaxed than a club meet.  She took 2nd on bars and 3rd on beam (against Eden Prairie) and no one else on her team even placed. She fell off beam on her front aerial (which is damn scary) and looked a bit nervous on all events. BUT ... they were new routines with a new team a new coach and in a new competition format so we think she did great, given all that. Plus, now the 1st meet is behind her and she knows what to expect. We suspect she'll nail it in the next meet (next Friday). On the way home she said "our varsity team really isnt very good'.  Not sure what this means for her interest in continuing with High School past this year, if she'll go back to club or stick with High School. We just want her in gymnastics and to find a way to have fun but also deal with her stress/anxiety.   Wish us luck.

Check out the photos we got, not all are great but when you are moving a million miles per hour, its the best we can do:)

Her club teammates - friends for life

Team introductions

can you see Jimmys hair?

Warming up

Club BFF watching to support with club mom BFF

shaking out the nerves but looking cute and fit

The team!  2 are also from club and 1/2 from north jr high