Friday, June 25, 2010

The Annual Fishing Trip

It is an event that thank god only happens once a year, except the year I had back to back trips that landed me in the hospital, but that is another story.

Lake Vermilion, 4 hours north of Minneapolis nestled in the woods outside of Tower is an amazing lake. The lake is 14 miles and is full of my favorite fish, the small mouth bass. this fish pound for pound fights better than any fish out there, including the Mansheer! Jimmy hooked into an 18' fish and as you can see the fish is awesome.

The interesting aspect of this trip is that we have been doing this for several years long before kids. The oldest kid is Volkoff and he is 16. The participants are all great people and friends whom i would trust my family with and I do not even know there real names or what they do for a living. Seriously we have Punky otherwise know as the 7 footman, Rockin Rabes, Triple T otherwise known as TwoTone, Hoddady, Scrounch, Krigger, Jumping Joe, Doctor Barzackein and Jumping Jack don't eat no fat. 16 years thousands of fish, several kids, wives and not a first name insight. Is this unusual or are we?

This year we were right in the middle of the may fly hatch which for those of you who do not fish, this is not good. The cry nicer fish on was few and far between as the fish were busy eating the may flies and going into a food coma. No matter with pole in hand and ipod for the kids we pressed on. several times the bottom was caught and the frustration level of the kids rose however having kukkarays and beef sticks seemed to be the problem solver.

The place has several cabins and a main gathering place otherwise known as the bar. Billy whom runs the place is a great guy and let us take over one night to watch our slide show. The seven footer created a slide show with 260 pictures spanning the 16 years of the trip. It was awesome for the dad's the kids were unimpressed. The fish tales flew and the bonding continued.

The weather finally broke and what fishing trip is not complete with a jump into the lake. Jimmy had fun swimming and catching crayfish of which we now have one as a pet named Gordon? Next year the trip will take on a whole new deminsion, I will be bringing Kay!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fathers Day - In perspective

So, to put into perspective how much we value and love Tom 'the father' in our little family...I am currently writing a quick blog on a break at work while Kay colors away at my desk... why you ask?

Tom is on his annual fishing trip with "the boys" - his buddies and all his buddies sons (ages 6-16). Tom took Jimmy on Saturday and headed up for a 4 day testerone invested fish fest, leaving me a single mom with 2 high energy kids, daycare, summer school, homework, piano lessons oh... and that little thing called work... I had a babysitter scheduled to watch Kay from post summer school bus drop off until I got home work. She called at 11am today and canceled. SO...That's how we got here and it got me thinking about Tom and ALL that he does for us.

Tom is our main caregiver, cook, housecleaner, chauffeur, medic, BFF, doggie daycare, landscape artist and electrician. He spends his days in an array of activities that would make me certifibly ADD. He drops everything at a call for help from friends, the kids friends and other stay at home parents. He's the one that picks up treats when the room mom forgot them, buys a luncable for the kid who forgot their lunch on the field trip, picks up "stray" kids at the bus stops when their parents cant get there in time and in general is at your disposal if you need a helping hand.

He's also the parent that lets the kids eat spaghetti tacos (gross I know), buys them a donut each Thursday as he takes the car to get cleaned and lets them make "forts" in the living room as they are watching movies. He clips their nails ( a job I detest) and fights with them to take a bath.

Tom is quick with hugs, wit and a helping hand. We love him and we couldnt do any of what we do without him!!

In the words of the kids...
Kay "he's smart and funny and cute and I have him wrapped around my little finger"
Jim "he plays football with me and he likes sports"
Billy "he's a good Daddy"
Nikki "woof woof"

We love you TOM!!! Enjoy your fishing trip, you deserve it:)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

better late than never!

Things have been a bit hectic around here since school got out (needless to say). Why is it that changes routines is such a big exhausting change?! Well its not an excuse, but it is the reason why we are behind in our blogs so .... back up 2 weeks ago. My mom (Bunny) came to visit.
She drove into town from their cabin in Michigan, hitching a ride with my Aunt Lynn (her sister) as my cousin Dan (Lynn's son) lives in St Paul and just got tenure at the U of M (way to go Dan!!!Yippeee!!!) Lynn wanted to come into town to help Dan celebrate and we jumped at the chance to see my mom.

She got here"just in time" for Kay's 1st grade, end of the year picnic AND the last day of school. Lucky her. I think this might be the last time she visits on that particular weekend:) The picnic was mass chaos of over stimulated and sugared 7 year olds (and a fair number of their equally over stimulated and sugared younger non-school age siblings). Screaming, giggles, chasing, etc all culminated with Kay and 4 of her friends locking themself in our car. Finally cooler heads prevailed (Mrs VanBatavia - Kay's teacher) and everyone was rounded up and hustled inside to clean their desks. That's a whole other story. Kay is a pack rat to begin with, can you imagine what came home after a full year?! Yuck.

We also got to spend a lot of time with my Mom's side of the family - dinner/family playdate with Lynn, Dan, Sara, Lola (8) and Astrid (5). Good good girl fun. They locked themselves in Kay's room (notice a trend here) and proceded to play with tape, paper, scissors, glue, sparklers, sissors and stickers until we called a time out. Clean up from this adventure was equal to the task of Kays desk. Yuck.

My mom's cousin also organized a cousins family reunion (all my mom's cousins live in the MPLS/St Paul area). They have a gorgeous house in Bloomington and while my kids were the only kids in attendance, they managed to entertain themselves with yard games (and lots of candy & sugared soda - again another theme. I wonder if any of this is why we are having a hard time adjusting to our summer schedule...huh... something to think about....).

We also headed down to the Minneapolis Marathon to see our good friend Annemeik finish her 1st marathon EVER! I love the end of marathons, they are so inspiring. You just have to cheer all those folks on and I always get a little teary (wonder what's up with that...).

My mom was a great help; watching the kids, making salads for the family reunion, reading with Kay, letting Jimmy talk "at her" about football ad nauseum, etc. You know, typical grandma stuff. While we missed having my dad here too, it was fun to just hang with grandma.

Maybe we can make it an annual event?

Dad, when are you coming for your annual grandpa visit?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Antoher year down - otherwise known as "we did it"!

"We did it, we did it, we really really did it!" - Dora the Explorer

Wow, not sure what to say ... we did it! The MS150 this year looked bad on paper but was great in reality. The weather forecasts of rain and highs in the mid-60's lows in the upper 40's did come to bear but it wasnt that bad.

Tom is our unsung hero, he raced around on Friday and found us 1 of the only available hotel rooms in Duluth (turns out lots of folks were bailing because fo the weather but if you timed it just right you could grab their rooms - sweet!). So, yes we whimped out on camping in Duluth in the rain in 40 degree weather, but we did fulfill our traditional Little Angies mexican dinner with Dick, Cathy, Jan and Wendy. Its way too much food and the margaritas are way too good, but its a good carb building exercise for the ride (or so we tell ourselves)

We were debated what time should we set our alarm on Sat am ... 5:30? 6:00? The 1st shuttle was rumored to arrive at 5:00 but the course doesnt open until 6:00 ... what to do? In hindsight ,we shouldnt have worried.... all the hotel room doors started slamming shut at 5:00am as people were racing to catch that 1st shuttle to the ride. We managed to drag our butts out of bed by 5:30 and were grabbing a donut/coffee at 5:55am when the shuttle came for us. We scooted around the mass start and were on our bikes by 6:30am. Pretty good timing!

The ride both days was relatively easy; slight mist, mid 60's, wind at our back, cloud cover. Doesnt sound like good weekend weather, but it turns out its the best biking weather you could ask for. We virtually flew through the ride. Almost no soreness and no injuries - YEAH!

We got to Hinckley in record time and had our tent set up before the rain started. Thanks to a coworker who's on the MS board we also scored free VIP passes, so free drinks and food. Sweet!
We also holed up in the tent with People, US Weekly and Intouch - a good way to catch up on my celebrity trash. A good use of time if I dont say so myself.

Sunday we were back up and at them and on our bikes by 6:15am. That INCLUDED pulling down the tent and breakfast. Prettty darn efficient. AND, we were at the finish line by 12:00 - enough time to get home and actually have some family time.

This year was also a record breaker in terms of fundraising. Thanks to you, I raised OVER $2,200 for MS. That's an amazing show of support, I am so thankful and proud of you all!

Thanks for all your best wishes, support and vibes of good biking weather. They all came to bear.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Camping - otherwise known as "Angela is not a happy camper"

So after the trial run last weekend we took the kids camping. The Fishers had an ex-pat dinner and after the Loudamericans headed out to "the campsite"!

Tom was able to check in early so with Billy's help they got the campsite ready for our arrival. The camp ground was packed full and it was nice arrive after our evening party and get the kids directly to bed! (yeah right, after 20 min's of complaining "dont touch me", recapping our evening at the Fishers and uncontained excitement about fishing the next day .. we went "right" to bed)
Saturday was a great day the Millers arrived around noon, got their tent set up and Tracy and could not believe how much stuff they brought, I mean we were only staying for a couple of nights. I am not sure why we didnt just head to their house for a sleep over:) But, they were good sports and set up their part of the site in record time.
We headed down to the lake and the kids had a ball swimming with the other kids at the beach. Meanwhile Wade and Tom put the boat in and the fishing began. Kay was glued into the boat and went through about 50 wax worms in under an hour, at this point I was concerned about the bait lasting... But, she is surpisingly patient with fishing and did end up raking some good sun fish in.

Before we get to far into the weekend let me say... Carver park is a great campground and it is not to far from town. The campground is clean, the sites are big and if there is a draw back it would be there are no showers, but the beach is nice so there is that option. They have fishing piers, a nature center, naturalist sessions, paved bike paths, cross country running paths and even a 2 mile fenced dog run. Oh, and did we mention that you have to turn right at DQ in order to get to the campground. Pratically nirvana and everything Loudamericans would need!

Back to Saturday... it was a fun filled day and we had a great dinner, taco night of course! Tracy and Angela took the kids to the Amphitheatre to watch the show on pond life while Wade and Tom tried their hand at fishing. Several pan fish and a couple of bass were caught so we had fish in our future. The campground goes to all quiet after 10:00 and we were no different (for a change). The kids climbed in their sleeping bags and after about 5 minutes it was lights out. The adults visited around the camp fire waiting for it to burn down and then into the sleeping domes we went.

The kids were up and at 'em early, 7:00am, so we were to. The day started with coffee and sausage and eggs and back to the beach. The boat went in and we were back to fishing, even though the weather was not so good. Our friend Vidiya and her two kids paid us a visit and we headed off to the Nature center for a program on snakes, yuk! But, as you can see - the kids were fascinated! The afternoon was spent in the boat and Vidiya's kids, who have never been on a boat or fished before were great and each of them caught a fish, which has to do with the skipper of the crafts ability too - not only to fish but think like a fish and therefore locate them for others! Caden caught his 1st bass and was practically jumping up and down for hours about it. He could stop touching it, poicking it up, talking about it, asking about it, showing it to people .... can you tell it got a little old? But, I suspect its a moment he'll remember for his lifetime.
The evening was set for steak, salad and a great adult meal when out of nowhere the worst storm in Angela's memory came to pass. On top of her dislike of bugs, bad weather and a 18 month old walking time bomb, Ang hit her final straw and bailed on us after dinner with a big smile on her face. She went home with promises of returning the next day fresh, showered and happy(er). She took a car load of stuff home with her and it was amazing. She had a full car and still Wade had a tent, sleeping bags, food and beer. I have no idea how they got it all in on one trip the day before!! The rest of us braved the elements and had S'mores and a big campfire. The kids played football (with live running commentary by Jimmy of course) and a live feedback survey - Justin Beiber or Bruce Springsteen? EVERY person that went by our campsite - kids, adults, park rangers, police, etc... were bombarred by Jimmy asking "Justin Beiber or Bruce Springsteen"? The final result? People over age 19? Springsteen Under 19? Beiber. I rest my case....
The kids feel asleep even faster than the night before. Getting used to the tent or did Mom and Dad find enough to keep them busy and exert energy, who knows?

Breakfast was fish and it was great. Nothing beats home made fish batter, poached eggs, strong coffee and deep fried fish all before 8:00am, you have to love that!! Except for Caden. After all his excitement about catching and cleaning his fish, actually eating it? Not so much... The more for me I say!!!! We broke down camp, Angela returned for Wade and Caden and we packed them up (again to a full car - how in the world did they do it in 1 trip?!) and headed home.
It was a great time and Tracy and Tom are now thinking the kids are ready to try camping in another zip code!