Monday, August 27, 2012

Weekend Update

It was an amazing weekend! I even have the tan lines on my feet to prove it! (gotta love flip flop tan lines:))

Friday was a trip to the zoo, its huge and amazing! They have a polar bear cub (super cute gnawing on his foot), a kids park, a train and some really unique animals. We spent the day and only saw about 30% of the park. The best part? The HUGE splash park. The kids loved it and the weather was awesome!

Saturday was a morning of  football and tae kwon do practice (yep, Billy has found his niche - tae kwon do here we come!) Then, it was off to Center Island and the beach. We rode our bikes to the subway, took the subway to the ferry and the ferry to the Island.

 It also, just so happened, to be Bulls eye Beach weekend. It was a free public event sponsored by Target so the ferry ride was FREE (thank you Target!) and there were give aways, beach chairs, beach umbrellas, etc. Again, super fun. The only downside was an emergency evacuation while they formed a human chain to look for a missing child. The GREAT news was, he was just lost and wandering around the park. Disaster averted but good to know they have safety measures in place. 

We wore ourselves out and headed back into town for dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory (remember, Sue's favorite). Its a really cool place to take hungry kids. The food was awesome as we all carbo loaded for the coming day! Then, off to the subway and home.
Sunday was football! Jimmy's game was in Clarington (an hour away) and they kicked butt!! 38-0 Grizzlies. Again, a perfectly cloudless sky and slight breeze. Kay and Billy made friends with other siblings and played a mean game of Octopus (think a cross between Hot Box and tag).  We did our traditional dinner of Chalupas (Tracy family tradition and favorite) followed by The Naked Brothers Band series.

All in all, a great weekend and we all fell into bed exhausted:) yeah summer!!!      

Sunday, August 26, 2012

And...Sue's Birthday!

Aunt Sue's birthday is the day after Jimmys and its a family tradition to celebrate together so she is our 1st official visitor to Toronto.

We gave Sue the same options as Jimmy - she could do whatever she wanted on her birthday. So, we were off to Buskerfest!  Buskerfest is an outdoor street carnival with street performers and raises money for Epilepsy.

It was amazing! Jimmy was excited to see Snap Boogie (on Americans Got Talent). He jumped/flipped over 4 people and was pretty amazing. We also saw "mime's" that would perform for a loonie ($1). A skateboarding, juggling, fire guy (he also spit fire) and acrobats that juggled flames while on each others shoulders. Crazy stuff!

For dinner? Sue's favorite, spagetti and meat sauce. easy peasey.  Billy said it was the best meal he ever had!

And, wrapped up the day with cake:)

Thanks for coming to visit Sue, we love you!!


Friday, August 24, 2012

Now arriving on the number 11

Yep the old #11 has arrived and Jimmy is the conductor. The official 11th Birthday commenced with the usual fanfare of I don't know what I want to do....

Here is the birthday boy over the years and as you can see he is pretty cute!

We went through several options none of which involved heights or clowns (his 2 biggies fears) or (unfortunately) any professional sports event. He finally settled on bowling, go figure. His rational was that he wanted something that he could cheer at. And, cheer he did!

We headed off to the Toronto version of Bowl-A-Rama complete with crazy colored bowling balls and size 9-10 shoes for the lad. He seems to grow over night.

 Jimmy continues to be into sports and is now on the North York Grizzlies and is playing his heart out. His passion for music has not faded and he is playing drums and piano and hoping when school starts he can get a band together.

Tradition has Aunt Sue coming to co-celebrate her birthday along with Jimmy, their birthdays are a day apart, but more on that in the next blog. Jimmy is working hard at being a big brother and as in most of these cases it is a work in progress.

He loves all sports and can keep up with most adult conversation ont he subject thanks to his "research" on the net and ESPN.

He still talks non-stop, fromt he minute he wakes up until the the minute his head hits the pillow. He's and extremely loyal friend and enjoys the friends he has all over the world. Hes an amazing reader and talented in math (except for decimals). He just finished the Hunger Games and now we are in search of a book that will grab his attention to the same extent.

He is born negotiator and is a thinker. You have to watch out or you get talked into things you werent ready for.

We love him. For all that he is and all that he is going to be. Its fun watching him grow and bearing witness to his "Jimmy-ness".

We love you Jimmy!  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Kay and Mommies excellent adventure

As I mentioned earlier this summer, I promised each of the kids a "date" day with me. Finally...Kay had her turn. Of course, it centered around shopping and odd food choices (totally Kay!)

We grabbed the subway last Saturday and headed downtown, in search of 2 major markets - China Town and Kensington Market.  We were NOT disappointed!

China Town is exactly what it sounds like, store after store, restaurant after restaurant of asian food, items, clothing, people, smells, etc.  Kay was in heaven! We picked up a Korean pear (super yummy if you've never had one), shitake mushrooms, saw live fish waiting to their new "home" (ie: dinner) and looked through every curio store in 1 square kilometer in search of the perfect lip gloss. It was crowded, noisey, pushy and super fun. We even found a little Korean restaurant for lunch and had pork bone soup (WAY yummy, highly suggest it) and bulgogi.  The owner totally made over Kay and her Korean from KCC came in handy:)

Then, it was off to Kensington Market. Let's just say... pick up Puerto Viejo Costa Rica, plop it in Toronto and ..there you have it. Very alternative, caribbean, lots of hippy hair/dress, piercing, leather, organics and alternative lifestyles.  My sister Julie would be RIGHT at home. We wandered in and out of shops; book stores (how to grow your own weed), health food stores (looking for candy as it was called Sugar and Spice - false marketing!), army surplus stores, 2nd hand shops and organic, vegan, local coffee shops.  We found a really cool market with flavored honey, educational toys and TONS of lip gloss. Had a hard time getting out of that one.  There were 2 really cool cars parked on the street and provided our only photo op. (the rest of the day was too crowded to get a good snap).

We ended the day with creme puffs and bubble tea. She even brought home treats for the boys and 2 new lip glosses.

It was fun to just "hang" with Kay on some serious girl time, a rarity in our house.            

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Toronto/ Homeward Bound

The trip back to Toronto began early Saturday morning with the destination for the day, Tracy's sisters house in Grand Haven Michigan. Tammy, Jeff, Georgia, Joey and Herbie along with their dog Chloe were expecting us and we were looking forward to a grand fireworks show signifying the end to the 2012 Coast Guard Days Celebration.

We met Aunt Sue in Manitowoc, just south of Green Bay for lunch and she help us get into the 4 hour Ferry Ride that would take us across Lake Michigan to Ludington, just north of Tammy and Jeff. Now for all of you that grew up in the late 60's early 70's you will remember that snappy little title sequence that went something like " Sit right down and your hear a tale, the tale of a fateful trip" and in the tune the line " for a 3 hour tour, a 3 hour tour" yeah right.... I should have known when all the cars were loaded onto the ferry we had to wait while they backed on this huge semi-tractor and trailer, but being side tracked by the 7000 questions the kids had about the ship, the evacuation plan, in case the ship went down, are there treats there, is their ac, I am hot, do they have a game room.... I was thinking about the bar and did not pay attention the truck.

We set sail, or steam if you will, only about 30 minutes late and settled down in the Corinthian leather seats and commenced sweating. Tracy, Kay and Billy found refuge in the air-conditioned movie theater, while Jimmy and I sat mid-ships sweating watching the Olympics and to our enjoyment the South Korean soccer team was taking on Great Britian, and we got to watch the entire game. There was one lone South Korean boy around 10 years old screaming and cheering for his team and the rest of the passengers gave him strange looks and a wide berth. The game ended in a shoot out with South Korea winning, the game score was 2-1, 3 hours of bliss for young Jim. (Kays comment about Great Britain? "I guess they arent so Great anymore, are they? I'm just going call them Britain from now on...") Meanwhile Tracy and Thing 1 & Thing 2 were watching movies (Happy Feet 2 and Journey 2 - note to self, anything with a "2" in it should be skipped).  We also brought Nikki with us; she and all the other dogs were all down in the hold, baking away. Several were voicing the concerns quite loudly and repetitively, scaring the rest of the dogs to no end.

We finally landed in Luginton only to have to wait (in the heat/diesel fumes) along with the rest of the passengers while the crew took over an hour and a half to the get the aforementioned truck off the boat. This is a family relate blog, if it were not I would have inserted an adjective here.... That placed us on the ground not a 7:30 but closer to 9:00 and out of the running for the fireworks. The silver lining in all of this is that after we stopped for dinner we were after the thousands of people who were lined up along the streets of Grand Haven for the firework's, and literally as we drove through town, the police were closing roads behind us. Finally we were at Tammy and Jeff's!! We had a cold beverage and called it a day.

We spent the next day just hanging out, going to the beach, watching more Olympics and spending time with our cousins. We left early Monday morning and the drive back was relatively uneventful and quite easy. We crossed the border, dog and all, imported our Pilot, snuck in a couple of items we "forgot" to mention we had and by 4:00 we were unloading the car at home and showing Nikki around.

It was good to get home and have it feel like home:)

 All good and more to come....

Friday, August 17, 2012

Minneapolis Bound

As you may have gathered from our previous post we returned to Minneapolis a couple of weeks back.

We headed back to retrieve our Honda Pilot and Nikki, as well as for the kids to go to KCC.
We flew into Minneapolis on Friday night and the madness began. Friday we met Jim Fellows and Jen, his fiance, at Buca for dinner, drinks and laughs, which would be the theme for the entire week! We caught up on the wedding plans, family drama and the kids had a blast with Jen and Jim. We then headed out to the Residence Inn, in Plymouth, which would serve as home base for the week, strange being in Minneapolis and not staying in our own home.

Saturday was full of errands, a Target run (woo hoo) and play dates for the kids. Our neighbors and friends, Tim and Patrick, hosted a small gated community pool party for us which was super nice of them!The kids each had a sleep over so we took advantage and had a dinner, drinks and laughs with Wendy and Annemiek. The Anchor Bar in Northeast was the locale and they have a mean fish and chips! As usual we had a riot and it was fun to get together sans the kids, not saying that we didn't miss them... just saying....

Sunday was more running around in the morning then the triple Birthday Party, much like the triple dog dare, this party had protocol, which was ignored and fun was had by all. The Birthday Spotlight was on, James Orvedal, Jimmy and Kay. Each invited 8 friends and the St. Louis Park Roller Garden was the venue. In essence the whole of Meadowbrooks 3rd and 4th grade was there. The kids wore themselves out, which after all was the point. It was also a great way to catch up with all our friends and family. Grandma and Grandpa Murphy, Aunt Brigid, Uncle Dennis and cousin Anastasia stopped by, which was really nice. Sunday night was back to the hotel to hang out with the Van Meter's and the Buckley's getting ready for KCC. Wwe swam had drinks, dinner and laughs at Red Robin to which Jimmy declared his undying love and commitment to their Grilled Chicken sandwich and Onion Rings, "heaven on earth".  Dont forget, this was also the opening ceremony of the Olympics and thus began our Olympic addiction. We were up each night until WAY past bedtime routing on our favority atheletes.

Tracy had to work everyday while we were at camp and we met up each night with friends for drinks, dinner and laughs. Tuesday Leona, Bob, Shinbee and Sandy invited us over for dinner,while we all had time to unwind from our days. Wednesday we headed over to the Miller's to celebrate Angela's birthday and catch up with the Fisher's who were travelling trough from Texas, a very Happy Birthday was had, I dare say by all!

Thursday we reunited with our sail boating friends. The boat people are all doing well and the get together was on par with our theme!  Friday  after camp we reunited with Nikki and she barked a tearful good bye to Michael and Brian, along with the pampered life she lead.. Dinner was a quiet night at our friends Pete and Michelle's, where Michelle out did herself with over the top steak in a red wine rosemary reduction, crazy good.

On top of all this, each kid also had another sleep over and Jimmy went to 2 other birthday parties. We were exhausted by the end of the trip. A VERY successful vacation, I must say:)

Early Saturday morning had has in the car on the way back to Toronto, exhausted but happy. (more on that later...)

To all our friends and family... thanks for the great week and all the hospitality, food, drinks, laughs and love!

The guest room is open for you ALL!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Korean Culture Camp

 There is not a bigger week in the whole Loudamericans Universe then the week of Korean Culture Camp, KCC for short. The kids frequently state that they would trade Christmas and their birthdays if they could go to KCC EVERY day of the year. Wow...pretty high marks:)

This year and next for that matter, we promised the kids that we would return to Minneapolis so they could attend, it was a non-negotiable item in the move details. The camp is held each Summer during the first week of August and it takes place at Minnehaha Academy. There were 600 people in camp this year and let me tell you it was a blast!

Tom is one of the head cooks in the kitchen and the amount of food they go through is crazy. The serve over 500 pounds of rice, 540 pounds of meat, 100 watermelons, countless carrots and the mondu, well lets just say there is never enough! There were several great kitchen drama moments, the best being on day one the helpers made the rice the wrong way, that's like saying you could burn soup, but really it happened. The first group of kids comes through for lunch at 11:15 and at 10:45 they ask me for help with the rice, what could you need help with? There were several people with large pots of wet rice trying to dry them out on the stove tops, really? The best advice I could give was " stop making rice mush and just make new rice". There are 600 critics of the food in camp and all of them voiced their opinion about the rice, Day two each of them came through the line and asked " Hey Tom, did you get the rice right today?" Cute aren't they.... (remember, they are Korean and they KNOW rice:))

Jimmy was in a group with his gal pal ShinBee, and fellow eating machine Joey. The three of them had a blast and are besties. Jimmy enjoys camp and even pays attention to what they are teaching him. He was very proud that he won a question and answer contest regarding Korea, that and he can say several Korean sayings! Camp to Jimmy is very important and he loves being there. When asked why, he said "cuz everyone is just like me". wow....

Kay was in her own little world and totally into the arts and crafts portion of the program along with the Korean Dance. She was able to see our friend Lesia everyday and the two of them went swimming every afternoon after camp. Kay enjoys the camp and loves learning about Korean history.

Billy met some new kids however we don't know the names, just "kids in my class". (from previous posts, this shouldnt be surprising, Billy has a hard time with names:) but not a hard time making friends!)  He always has a smile on his face and this year the kids were into Pokeman Cards, really! Bill likes the playground activities and creating different Korean Masterpieces out of colored paper and markers, to cute. (Plus he got a new haircut:))

The camp ends everyday with what is know in certain circles as " The Snack Time". There is a space where the camp sets up tables, coolers, signs and sells Korean Snacks for a dollar. The kids go nuts, it is quite the site seeing 400+  Korean kids all mingling, sharing stories, laughing and having a great time, heartwarming. It literally can bring tears of happiness to your eyes (back to Jimmys reason for loving camp)

This year in camp for the first time there were to many teen helpers and some of them were not able to come to camp, which is a problem. Many of the kids see each other only at camp and what happened was kids came anyway, it cause a bit of an issue in the food lines however we just let it go. Where else can you spend quality time with like minded people and people going through the same life experiences as you?  For these kids, its really true... no where else can they get this experience and it is quite amazing, enough said,

See you next year to all our KCC family!