Monday, December 05, 2016

What's Been Going On?

Time seems to slip away when you have 4 kids running in several different direction along with life changing events and a professional football team that is tanking!

Jimmy and Tom were fortunate enough to get tickets to the Vikings game against the Cowboys. It was our first trip into the new stadium. The [place is really huge, and cool but not sure I see the $1.5 billion dollars it took to build the place. It is like any other stadium, big score boards and jumbo TV's, long lines and crazy fans.
It was fun to go with Jimmy as he thought it was the coolest place on earth! The game was great the Vikings actually ended their 5 game losing streak so we got to see the win. It was a nightmare to get out of the place and we had to walk about 1/2 mile to find a cab, however we did have a blast.

It is hard to believe that 13 years ago Kay came home! We celebrated her gotcha day in total Kay style with Fondu complete with chocolate fondu and strawberry's! She was in heaven. Kay continues to excel not only at gymnastics but in school as well. She keeps up her creative side with cooking and recently opening anew business called Kay's Slime Store. Yes she has a cottage industry she is running out of two drawers in the boys bathroom ( why take up space in hers) making custom to order slime. She has made a few teaser packets and has a couple of sales people working at the school- taking orders, so far we are still in the hole trying to recoup the initial investment but the forecast looks strong as the fiscal year winds down so we will see!
Kay we love you and we are blessed everyday that you chose us to be your forever family!

Thanksgiving was a super homey quiet day with lots of resting, relaxing and eating. I think this is the first time that we have made a traditional turkey, so smoking, deep frying, brining we just pulled out the roaster and off we went. Tom made a homemade stuffing, so just to be clear about dressing and stuffing, they are an identical dish the only difference is that it is called stuffing when out is inserted into he cavity of the bird and dressing when it is not. We also had Tracy's favorite side dish, cranberries from a can, mashed potato's, gravy, beans, and fresh tools. Wendy, Annamiek and Lucy made pumpkin and pecan pies and we all had a fantastic evening.

Tom had to be at the Mall of America the next day for a Gift of Adoption event
being that November is National Adoption Day his board had a special walk planed at the mall. There were several grant recipient families that came and we honored by the Gift of Adoption for making the lives of several children complete with a forever family! Kay and Ian came along more for the shopping than the event. Ian in true teenager fashion left to wander around by himself, Kay meanwhile was off and running looking for deals. She is a pretty good shopper, makes good selections and choices so it was fun. Tom and Kay made a pit stop at the new Tim Horton's for double doubles and tidbits all and all a great morning, we got out of the mall just as it was getting super packed and crazy.

For Tom's birthday Tracy gave him a day of Pheasant hunting with Terry, his dog scout and Mike G. The day was beautiful sunny, calm very little wind and our shooting skills were spot on. We had a round of trap then headed into the lodge for lunch which was venison chill and elk burgers, spectacular grub. Then off to the field where we proceed to knock down anything that flew. We put out 10 birds and we came back with 13! Great time, friends and fun. We are planning a pheasant gumbo meal after the holidays to celebrate the hunt!

We also had a brunch with Grandma and Grandpa, Brigid, Dennis, Stacia and Charlotte, Grandma wanted her picture with Jimmy, it was cute.

In addition we know have a 15 year old with a driving permit..more to come...

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Long time, no blog

So sorry for our radio silence, it has been crazier than ever around here and while its all good stuff, we can barely keep up. I'll give an update, by person so that its easier to track:)

Tom - started working full time (30 hrs/wk) at school and is loving it! He works before and after school care for the 3rd graders as well as lunch/recess. SO, he works 7:15-9:15 then 11:00-1:00 then 3:30 - 5:30 - he's playing lots of dodge ball ,medic, kickball and go to the head of the class. He loves his coworkers, the kids and has great stories to tell at dinner. He gets a work out in every day and helps with kid pick up.  Our roles have totally reversed with Tracy taking on all the after school snacks/driving. The kids are adjusting and Tracy is getting her fair share of the sites driving around Hopkins, Golden Valley and New Hope, over and over and over again.

Tracy - working full time and finding a job. She launched website, redid her resume, got business cards, has been networking and is now taking a few trainings (how to network, unconscious bias and a facilitator training for race discussions).  She's LOVING all the new people she's meeting and is really excited about this move. But, its crazy how much driving, coffee and lunches are involved.

Tracy/Tom - we paid off the house - yippee!!  Signed up for new health insurance, transferred Tracy's 4-01k, are dog sitting Lucy while Wendy/Annemiek are in New Zealand, booked tickets to Costa Rica for Christmas (yeah) and are getting ready for Thanksgiving, Billy's birthday and Xmas. 'Tis the season!!

Jimmy - Had basketball try outs and lets just say - politics are always involved. He did great in try outs, blocked shots, rebounded - even a 1/2 court buzzer shot but. .. he did not make the A team.  We knew it would be a challenge but what is shocking is that NONE of his teammates from last year made the A team. The A team has 6 8th graders on it and only 5 9th graders.  But, he's going to play B (reluctantly) and we think its a good life lesson, play because you enjoy it, not because you made the best team.  In his conferences, his teachers love him. He's polite, helpful, curious, a leader and a typical 15 yr old boy (a bit distracted and disruptive but not disrespectful) He's really gotten into making videos and the media center found him and now he's going to do the band trip and redo all their pride videos. He's thrilled! And, we think he has a girlfriend and her names Lauren, more to come.

Kay - Deep into gymnastics and loving it. Her grades are nice and stable and she's really committed to homework. Her conferences were fun - Kay always has a smile on her face, is nice to everyone, asks a ton of questions and is really engaged. She just needs to be more proactive on homework and details. Dont we all, dont we all. She's all about sleep overs and Christmas and already has her room decorated and Christmas music playing at all hours.

Billy - aka Mr Blackbelt is rolling along.  TKD is taking up even more of his time/attention and he loves it.  School is good, he's now reading at a 10th grade level and is very diligent in his homework. He thinks he talks to much in school but the teacher said its not an issue.  Again, he's nice to everyone and has been on a string of birthday parties, which is fun. He's really excited for his birthday - we are taking his friends to the new Star Wars moving. Good time.

Ian - he's doing well and is now going out for nordic skiing so we have another new sport to learn/support. He's doing great in school and I'm so impressed given English isn't his 1st language and he's reading really hard books in class (the Crucible!!) His friends are willing to try anything and last week when to the school musical and roller skating. Love how adventurous he is!

So, there you have it, thats why you haven't heard from us.  I promise an update after Sunday's Viking game (Tom and Jimmy have tickets) as well as Thanksgiving.

Now I'm going to go take a nap ......

Monday, October 31, 2016

HUGE milestones - time to celebrate!!

Two MAJOR happenings at the Loudamericans today ... We need to figure out how to celebrate ...

1) Tom started full time at the school. He'll be doing before/after school care along with his lunchroom/recess duties.  I'm so proud of him - its awesome that he'll continue to be a great male role model at the school. Plus its 1.5 miles away and he works with people he likes and respects. We love love love Hopkins school district so this is just perfect.  His hours are ok  (7:15-9:30 then 11:30-1:30 and 3:15 -5:30) but ... he gets benefits - this is HUGE!! I'll be taking on the post school kid sports taxi service (Kay is not happy about this as Tom tends to buy her treats that she knows I won't buy her) but it'll all work out plus this opens us up to my job search can take longer if needed and if I find a great job but it doesn't have benefits, we are still covered. LOVE Tom for doing this for our family.

2) We paid off our house!! We had 9 months left of payments and decided to just do it.  It was sort of anticlimactic. It took 15 min with the banker and was all done online.  We are official home owners.  Feels like a big step and another great place to be as I look for a new career/job switch.

All is good. Now we just need to figure out how to celebrate!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Kansas City or Bust!!

In an effort to show Ian as much of the midwest as we can, it was a road trip to Des Moines and Kansas City over the long MEA weekend.

We packed up the car and left promptly after school Wednesday night, headed for tacopacolipst in Des Moines, highly featured on Diners Drive Inns and Dives.  The kids were great in the car but lets just say dinner came with mixed reviews.  Tracy, Tom, Billy and Kay LOVED their meals.  Korean BBQ chicken on a waffle,  vegan sausage lettuces roles, hominy fries, spicy tomato soup and Korean bulgogi banh mi.  Jimmy and Ian were MUCH less impressed and we had to make a stop at Jimmy Johns on the way to the airport. Highlight thought?  BYOB  - nothing like bringing your own beer to a taco place on a college campus, ah, the memories.

Thursday we headed over to Drake University to wander around and check out their basketball facilities. As with all our trips, it included sneaking into the stadium and basketball arena but this time included some serious hoop time. Jimmy even made 4 of 5 half court shots. I'll have to figure out how to get them uploaded to the blog. Super fun.

Thursday afternoon we quickly ran out of things to do in Des Moines so headed to KC, but 1st a stop at Sonic. Kay complained the whole time that it wasn't DQ. Then the food came. She's a convert - so much so that we had to stop on the way home on Sunday AND she actually even apologize for pitching a fit.  Progress!

We got to KC in time to check out the mental hospital museum (otherwise known as the insane asylum) it is almost Halloween ...right?  It really wasn't as creepy as expected but, there were some interesting factoids about mental medical care around the turn of the century. Little known fact, KC is the haunted house capital of the US.  We couldn't convince ANYONE to go to one (fear of clowns, especially with the whole urban myth clown scare going on) so we thought this was the next best thing.

As we were driving to our hotel and past the Royals and Chiefs stadium, we had a major small world moment. Literally, Jimmys friend Jason posted a snapchat of the stadiums.  He was in town for a baseball tournament.  Crazy!!  We quickly called and made plans to connect since we were staying 10 min's away.

Friday we were off to see KC. The Crown Center, the money museum at the Fed and Country Club Plaza. It was a gorgeous sunny day in the 70's and we spend the day with our baseball friends and their kids. Everyone was in heaven.  We even saw mounted police.  Dinner that night was a meet up with the taekwondo team and BBQ!!!  we were in KC after all....

Saturday was the tournament and it was a long one.  But aren't they all.  Billy sparred "up" a weight class and each of these guys had at least 20 lbs on him. He lost his 1st match to the ultimate gold medal winner but kicked some serious butt in the second match, taking 3rd overall. He felt pretty good about his performance but admits he needs a better game plan for sparring bigger kids.  He's got all the right techniques and he's fast, but they are just bigger.  He'll get there, he's a great coachable kid. My favorite part ... after the match, he tracked down each kid he sparred against and congratulated them and shook their hands. Such a great sport.

Saturday night was an all you can eat chinese buffet (of course) and a whole bunch of pool time.

Sunday was a power drive back to MPLS while we listened to the Vikings game on the radio (brutal!!) as we were recapping the trip and had everyone share their favorite parts ... the verdict?  The pool, almost unanimously. Go figure.  You can take these kids anywhere, and we have, and their favorite part is still the pool. We should just rent a hotel room in town and save ourselves the hassle.

All in all, a good trip, fun family and friend time and we got to see a bit of the midwest.

Happy MEA!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

trifecta - Ian's 16th birthday, Tracys parents are back, Tracys last day at Target

Its been a crazy few weeks. Starting at the beginning.

Ian turned 16!! We weren't sure how to celebrate since his actual birthday was on a Wednesday so pasta, brownies and presents seemed in order followed by a korean dinner at our favorite, restaurant on Sunday night, Mirror of Korea.   Turns out, Ian doesnt like brownies. or ham. or haircuts.  He does love soup, chicken, pizza, waffles, sausage  and hamburgers.  We loaded him down with Hopkins paraphernalia.  A Hopkins hat, sweatshirt, socks and water bottle. He was most excited about the socks and water bottle, go figure.  We sang happy birthday, blew out candles and that was that.  However, I think he really did like our Korean dinner, he ordered his favorite soup and said it tasted almost as good as his moms. I think the dinner made him a bit homesick and he made a point of telling us that his parents wanted us to know how thankful they were that we took him out for korean food and made his birthday special. Best birthday ever. (according to Ian)

Grandma and Grandpa were back in town from their train trip out west. The visited Glacier Nat'l Park, Whitefish, Portland and San Francisco. The photos were amazing  but the highlight was my mom and aunt meeting their dads side of the family and 1st and 2nd cousins in Portland.  What a wonderful trip for them! They spent a few days with us and then were off to Lambeau for the game before they head back to South Carolina for the winter. Ah the life of retired parents. JEALOUS!!

Finally, Tracy's last day official day at Target  was yesterday. She's been contemplating a move to non profit and nows the time.  We actually think she'll end up working harder than she has in years as she tries to land a job in nonprofit. What was weird is that, yesterday was just a normal day. No parades, banners or tears. Just being with the amazing people and team at Target, saying thank  you and quietly walking out the door. As it should be. Means she was ready.  Whats funny is that she didn't even think to invite Tom to her exit reception. (ice cream social)  he probably  dodged a bullet on that one.

So, here's to big milestones, adventures and good people in your live.
grandma and grandpa at the game, hard loss but a gorgeous day

presents and the bday boy

cute boys

getting ready to blow out candles our signing is atrocious

all but 1!




go hopkins!

dinner at Mirror of Korea - Ian IS having fun, but he doesnt like to smile for the camera - typical teenager



and... thats that ....

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Kellogg Gymnastics Exhibition

Tracy and Kay went to the Kellogg Gymnastics Exhibition on Saturday night and it was CRAZY!
They had the full mens and womens gymnastics team alone with Natsia Lupkin, Shawn Johnson, Jordan Weber, the aero gymnastics and rhythmic gymnastics gold medalists and the trampoline world champions. It was so fun to the their talent, athleticism and how much they were having.  Kay loved every minute and Tracy was terrified by some of the cirque du soile type tricks where people where hanging 50 ft above the ground with no net and just using their body strength to keep themselves from falling.  NOT for the faint of heart or those that are afraid of heights. Some of kay friends also went and we met them at intermission for some inspired splits, front/back walkovers, bridges, flips, etc.  Nothing like hanging out with 13 yr old girls at the sport they love. It was a really cool opportunity and we are SO glad we went.

Love you Kay!

Watch out world, Billy is a BLACK BELT!

Yesterday was a day Billy has worked towards for the last 5 years, his black belt in Taekwondo.  He is focused, committed, a hard worker, a coachable kid and all around LOVES his sport.

It started in Toronto with Mr Ted and continued to St Louis Park with Mr Lemon and Mr Lee. He's learned too many pomsea forms to count, how to spar aggressively and strategically, weapons such as nunchucks, sword, bow staff and hand knifes, self defense, and traditional Korean customs, language and protocol.

He was so nervous leading up to the big day. They can technically ask you to do ANY form you have learned in the last 5 years and thats saying a lot.

But, it all went without a hitch and he is now a probationary black belt.

Basically, you can't be an official black belt until you are 16 so anyone under is a probationary, then Jr, then full black belt. He can continue to earn degrees against his belt and will retain those when we he turns 16. So, its conceivable he could be a 3rd or 4th degree black belt by 16.  Like we said, watch out world!!

It was also fun to have him test with his best friends, Esa and Grace. They did their forms in almost perfect unison and I love the bond they have.

Congrats to all the belt graduates yesterday and  ... we are SO proud of you Billy!

We love you!!
Graces board breaking

Billy board breaking 

Black Belt with Mr Lemon

Newly minted Black Belt!

Isa getting her Black Belt

Esa Billy and Grace 

Love these kids!

They did it!

The crew that tested for new belts!! Woo HOO!

The Black Belts

Ace and Billy celebrating afterwards