Wednesday, July 19, 2017

1st degree black belt...in the house!!

Straight off of nationals and vacation, Billy had another BIG week - Black Belt testing.

While he got his probationary black belt in October, this is the real deal. His 1st don (or degree).

A few things we learning in this process...
~ you can earn a black belt at any age as long as you pass all the training/testing requirements BUT... your belt will still be 1/2 red 1/2 black until you are 15.  You dont get your official literal black belt in until you are 15.  But, you can keep earning dons and they all carry with you when you turn 15
~ There are 3 dons between the 1st and 2nd degree and you have to wait/train/test for a minimum of 6 months in between (since Billy is now 12, if he keeps at this pace, he'll be a 2nd degree black belt at age 14)
~ I think there are 3 dons between 2nd degree and 3rd degree which would mean he'd be a 3rd degree by 17 and, if the same holds true for 3rd to 4th degree, he'd be a "master" by 20 - yikes!! (a lot of "ifs" though)

For the black belt test they do a series of full team practices and rehearsals, which are like large choreographed performance  - but, in order to get there, you have to practice your butt off for years.  He also needed to write a paper (a reflection on what tkd means to him and his life) and pass a pretty rigors physical test (sprints, weights, conditioning, flexibility, all followed by more sprints)  - Kay was VERY glad that she doesnt have to write a paper to move from level 8 to level 9 but I'd say she has to perform at a very similar athletic level.

The test was Friday night and he was nervous that he'd make a mistake or not pass - when it was all over, you could literally see him exhale.  There was forms, weapons, board breaking, cement breaking and inspirational speeches by the coaches. They also passed out the black uniforms and new belts that are engrave with their names in English and Korean as well as their Grand Masters name.  Pretty cool.  To celebrate we had Greek food (his favorite, go figure)

Then, Saturday was the traditional tea ceremony honoring the newest black belts and sharing what this accomplishment means to them. It was very heartfelt and once again, Billy was intently listening and engaged. The sweetest part was when Master Lemon gave his mom her 3rd degree belt. Too sweet.  And, I should mention it was followed by a killer potluck with bulgogi and korean chicken...

Billy we are so so proud of you!! Very few people have the tenacity, focus and dive to be a black belt AT ALL, in their LIFETIME, and you've done it at 12 with a plan to continue on this path to your 2nd and 3rd degree. We love you so so much!!

Here are some highlights of the week...




















Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Happy 14th birthday Kay

Kay has turned 14, how did that happen?!

She has had an amazing year ... she grew 2 inches and gained 7 lbs in the last 6 months and the doctor  (& Kay) is thrilled!! She is now up to 4'10" and 88 lbs and its really helped her gymnastics as it's all muscle.  Another 2inches and 6 lbs and she'll be a power house:)

She also won 3rd on beam in regionals (level 8) and 11th overall. This qualified her to move to level 9 where the skills get MUCH harder, scarier (for mom and dad at least) and it'll the 1st year she could qualify for westerns (regionals in MPLS next  year is the qualifier).  She is one of the top 2 gymnasts in her gym and she works here tail off and adores all her friends there. They are definitely her tribe.

For her birthday its been the week of Kay.  Most of her presents were delayed (boo Amazon) but we turned lemons into lemonade and have been giving her 1 gift a day.  The few gifts she did get on her actually birthday she loved (thank you Grandma/pas and Sue). And, she got a Vineyards Vine shirt that was the source of the best line of the night - from Jimmy: Alright Kay, now you are officially whasian (white/asian - as context they call Vineyards Vines 'the white peoples store' since its extremely preppy any they've never seen anyone of color actually wearing their gear). For the late arriving gifts, we decide to make her work for them and either answer a riddle, solve a puzzle, play a game or do a scavenger hunt in order to find her present of the day.  She is LOVING this and I'm a bit worried we've set the bar really high for next year.  In fact, now she's having us wrap and hide normal packages that come in the mail .... errhhh

We haven't had her friends birthday party yet but the planning is definitely underway. A luau with 12 girls including a sleep over and open gym time.  Tom will be at a boys cabin weekend so Tracy is on her own.  God speed and god bless - let's hope we all survive this!!

Kay, you are funny, brave, hardworking, loyal, generous, a good friend, honest, direct and have the entire world of common sense and survival skills in your little pinky. You are creative, an amazing pastry chef and willing to try anything in the kitchen.  You can also be short tempered, annoyed by us (especially Mom) and independent to the point that we worry about you. You are an amazing kid and we are so proud of you. You are on your way to being an amazing adult and are already one of our favorite people in the whole world. We love you Miss Kay (Kay Kay ... Pookarook) with all our hearts, minds and souls.  Thank god for brining you to us and our deepest thanks and awe to your birth parents and foster parents for the incredibly hard choices they made that blessed up. XOXOXO
Kay made her own cake

Fondue and a toast with kid champagne for Kay

She didnt want her picture taken

Happy girl

Loving her presents from Grandma H and Sue 

Happy! (and dang cute)

The final product, a confetti, rainbow, chocolate layer cake with sprinkles and butter cream frosting....a world of art!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Cousins, Food, Billys Gotcha day and Vacation!

Glen Lake is a great little community in Northern Michigan where Tracy's family has been vacationing for many years and where we have been traditionally going for the 4th of July. It is our go to  place for summer vacation and has all the needed ingredients for a great time. This year was no exception, the weather, food, family and good times were in abundance.

Tracy, Billy and Tom arrived late Sunday night after the National Taekwando tournament, everyone was up and waiting with open arms. The cousins all congratulated Billy and Grandma and Grandpa waited up to greet us and to give Billy high 5's and a big hug.The following morning the games began - wall ball, spike ball, ping pong,  baseball, volleyball in the lake along with several made up water games and of course basketball. The kids played all day everyday they had a blast. We spent all day Monday hanging out at the cabin, going for walks, tubing behind Uncle Gary's boat and basically relaxing.

Tuesday was the traditional 4th of July parade and candy fest seriously the kids get as much or more candy at this parade then they do for Halloween! The parade last for about an hour with floats, bands, kazoo players antique cars, Elviss, a small town parade with a big world flavor. Tom ran into one if his co-workers and his family who where in town for the week as well. Grandpa and Grandma fired up the grill for burgers and brats with all the fixing and we watched fire works from the dock, a fantastic day!

Wednesday was off to the "big lake" Lake Michigan and to hang out at the beach. Herbie and Jimmy had a blast in the water while Joey and Billy hit the warmer waters of the lagoon. Kay was not in a water mood as Georgia had to go home for a swim meet which left Kay as the only girl and not in a group mood, so to speak.  We headed back to the cabin and Tom and Kay went in search of fireworks as well as a piece of vanilla cake, Kay was craving a piece of cake, go figure. Back at the cabin it was beach, books and a bone-fire. S'mores and a goodbye to Jami, Kurt, Kiera and Reece as the headed home.

Wednesday was also Billys Gotcha day, 12 years ago he became part of our family and we are all blessed by him. We had the traditional brownies and all the kids were so sweet and wished him a happy Gotcha day. That night we went around and told our favorite Billy story and said what we love most about Billy. The themes were - kind, hardworking, funny, nice to everyone, smart, good athlete, sweet, loving, etc.  Favorite stories - cuddle me but dont touch me, the small scrap on his nose, his one eyed smiles, Juanita, giving a million kisses before bed, wise/funny/zen sayings ... We love you so much Billy! You are a wonderful person and we thank god (and your birth family and foster family) everyday that you are a part of our lives. What would we do with out you!?!  XXOO

Thursday morning walks, taking the boat out of the lake to go in for repairs and more basketball as well as afternoon naps and a walk through the Dunes, summer.  Thursday was Toms night to cook so he pulled out one of his signature dishes, Portuguese Seafood in a Cataplana -  yummy. Kay decided to put on her own fireworks show and Joey, Herbie and Billy were her helpers. Sue was the fire marshal and Tracy and Tom sat on the dock and watched, it was quite the show!

Friday was a quiet lazy around the cabin day.We said goodbye to Joe and Herb as Grandpa took them to meet Jeff. Tracy and Tom headed into town for the wine tasting at the M22 store. It was fun and we even got a couple of wine glasses to take home! Then it was time to get organized and pack.
Lynn had us over for dinner which as very nice of her and we had a great dinner of mac & cheese, pork sandwiches, fruit and an amazing dessert. Tracy's cousin Jodi was also staying at the lake and we hadn't seen her in 10+ years. It was really nice to get caught up with her ! Super fun evening.

Saturday we were up at the crack of dawn for the long drive home around the UP. Sue followed us and it was a gorgeous drive.  Jimmy even drove the last 3 1/2 hours. He did a great job although Tracy did have to remind him, on a number of occasions, that its ok to actually go the speed limit on the highway.  Hwy 29 is a good training ground for a new driver. The tricky part came when we got into the Twin Cities construction.  He did a great job through St Paul and then we hit the MPLS tunnel construction. Its nerve-wracking for experienced drivers and combined with his propensity to drift right, and slow down when nervous ... our life did flash before our eyes when we were in the middle of the tunnel. But, he did it and we all made it home safe.  Afterwards he say - wow, that was stressful and Kay has vowed never to let Tracy teach her to drive based on the shriek that came out of Tracy's mouth during said tunnel event.

Thank you to Grandma and Grandpa for sharing the lake with us and to Lynn and Dado for letting us run wild in their lawn, beach and on their boat.  You are so lucky and blessed to call Little Glen home...