Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas, ice, snow and the little mermaid

 Snow, pre ice and snow storms - its been a snowy December for Toronto - not usual
 Kay Adam and Maddie - good friends and tight pals when the power went out and Adam, Ryan and Maddie spent Christmas Eve with us since they didnt have lights or electricity.
 The ice storm. 250,000 people without power. Very scary, neighbors pitched in and helped and many people spent the holidays at their cottage, a friends or hotels. Some were without power 4 days and it came back on on Christmas Day -  a true Christmas miracle. 70,000 still without power.
 Very pretty but tons of trees and power lines down.
 Christmas morning, everyone got everything they wanted. a very blessed day and family. Jimmy loaded up on performance hoodies, video games and high socks.
 Kay loaded up on science experiment kits, cooking sets, make up sets and any craft/Crayola kit that was designed to make a mess.  oi yoi yoi.

Billy owns the free world supply of legos, hot wheels and skylanders swapforce. AND a new digital watch. He keeps telling us the time and timing things.

 Pretty excited for Nerf
 The kids bought each other and us gifts at the school holiday bazaar. VERY thoughtul
 Ice skating on Christmas afternoon in the snow. which later turned into a full fledged snow storm. On top of the ice storm, we are buried and the poor folks without power cant catch a break. We were without internet, cable and phone service for 4 days and the kids were great, we watched every Christmas movie in the book!
 Kays friends were at ice skating as well
We were suppose to go to the Little Mermaid on Sunday (ice storm day) and rescheduled our tickets for Thursday (snow storm day) we took the subway downtown and had lunch pre the show. It was totally worth it. Imagine, roller skating mermaids, campy show tunes, guys in drag, villans where the audience boo's, what does the fox say, audience participation, Toronto current event jokes, (yes, many at the expense of Rob Ford) and amazing singing and dancing. TOTALLY worth it and a strong consideration as a new family tradition.

It was a great holiday. Friends looking out for each other, impromptu ice skating and cocktail parties, holiday movies, family time, thoughtful gifts, good food (South Indian for Christmas dinner - YUM!), winter weather, cuddling in front of the fire and connecting with family and friends via email, phone and facebook.

We are so blessed. Merry Christmas EVERYONE!! Big hugs and peace in 2014 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Billy turns 9 Happy Birthday Billy!

The kid was like the old pendulum when it came to a party location and theme.  Chuck & Cheeses, paint ball, swimming, bowling, hey, bowling yea lets do that I'll invite the whole class whoa slow down Bill! There is a sort of surge around here in the younger grades to have a party and invite the whole class, boys and girls, and all, we decided to squash the trend, boys only, well except Kay. He also wanted to do a survey to see what his friends wanted to do. We had to stop that as well, arent we the unsupportive parents?! :)

The local Bowl A Rama was the site of the event Saturday 2:24 to 5:00 precisely. The crew all arrived and were given shoes and then allowed to sign into the automatic score keeping device give balls and 5 pin began. Now it is a well know fact that one of the kids in Billy's class, who will go nameless, at the last bowling party went to the hospital because he took a ball to the chin. This time with 5 pin, and smaller bowling balls it was all good, whew!

There were 16 bowlers and they had a blast. Then it was into the party room food, cupcakes and some type of energy drink. The Bowl A Rama folks came to the lanes during the match and the kids got to order basically whatever they wanted and then were served in the party room feed the kids, cleaned up after them, perfect. Billy received many great gifts and had a blast. In the opinion of the author the best part was the old heavily used bowling pin that the Bowl A Rama folks tried to clean up and then had all the kids sign it and gave it to Billy, sitting on our mantle at home, just saying...

Wednesday was Bill's actual b-day and with  the family he chose Greek food, as many of you know Billy is a Gyros junkie, bonified Greek food officiando and all. Kay was called into the kitchen to make her famous brownies as that is Bills other love ....well besides Nikki.

Mom and Dad pulled a fast one over on the kids when they announced that they bought Billy more swap force figurines... isn't that awesome??. The kids looked at us like we were from Mars stating 'don't you know that he doesn't have the game station for them'? Nonsense said mom... he has a whole WII system set up downstairs, these figurines will work just fine! To their dismay they said in unison, 'there not compatable!'', what what?? Jimmy was reeled in like a dead fish, Kay was un-phased as she's not really a gamer, Billy looked like he lost Nikki and just then he opened the last present, a Swamp Force Game Station. Jimmy declared " Wow I'm really impressed you had me there, good one Mom"

Happy Birthday Billy! We love you, we are blessed everyday by you and were glad you chose us for your forever family! more to come.... cant wait to see what happens in your ninth year:)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Kays Gotcha Day!

Another year with Kay in our forever family, YEAH!

Sunday was Kays Gotcha Day which is the anniversary of the day we brought her home from Korea.  As part of our tradition, you get to pick your dinner and special dessert and we spend the day celebrating:)

Kay had a sleep over Saturday night which lasted into a morning playdate and then 4 hours of gymnastics so... we didn't get a ton of time to celebrate her during the day. I think we just got a preview of life with a busy teenager/adult but... we DID have a special dinner. Kay's choice?!


Not sure what else to say - lots of variety, small dishes, mini taste treats, a bit putzy and high maintenance to put together, a lot of dishes to clean up but all over super yummy and a fun communal meal.  Come to think of it, this is a pretty good description of Kay herself!

We did cheese, chocolate and chicken stock with ginger/lime fondue with lamb, veggies, fruit, bread and for the special dessert (yes, the chocolate fondue was part of dinner not dessert) mini DQ icecream cupcakes. All I have to say is - this is a pretty tasty new menu item at DQ. Check it out!

It was fun to reminisce about bringing Kay home, and we asked the boys their 1st favorite memory of her.

jimmy's - meeting her at the airport and then showing her her room when we got home (it was a pretty cute memory)

Billy's - when she accidently pushed him off the couch on his 1st day home. Now... I'm not sure he doesn't actually remembers this as he was 7 months old but...we do have it on video (yes video) and the kids watch it all the time. Turns out a baby falling off the couch is pretty good entertainment.

Mom/Dads - when we met her at her foster parents home in Seoul, her foster grandma was so in love with her and was so upset that she was going to be leaving that she scooped up Kay and left. We didn't know what to do and weren't sure she was actually going to come back.

It reminds us how much love there is in the world for our kids - their birth parents making an absolutely unfathomable choice out of love, their foster parents for deeply loving a child that they only got to love for a very short amount of time, our friends and family that supported us in our journey to Kay and the adventure that IS Kay, and all the social workers, lawyers, politicians, etc that make it possible for a white middle class family in Minnesota to become the forever family to a talented, spirited, loving, active, funny person from Seoul Korea.

Thank God for all this universal GOOD!!!  


Friday, November 22, 2013

Montreal Merci...

Tracy decided that with the kids having a PA Day (which means no school) it was time to head over and visit Montreal. Our friend Carol and her family, husband David, son Josh and daughter Lauren live there as well, so we made plans for a bit of a reunion, haven't seen them all since India, and off we went.

The train was the mode of transportation and let me tell you it is the way to go. Tasty snacks, cold beer or wine and no driving! We had a nice little section to our selves, the kids plugged into the Wi-Fi and it was all good! The trip was about 5 and 1/2 hours which is about the same as if you drive but did I mention they have cold beer on the train!

We arrived around 10:00pm and headed off to find our B&B as well as a place to eat. The downside to train travel, if there is a downside, is that the snacks are expensive and not very big, translated the kids were starving! We found a super nice neighborhood restaurant which had just about anything you wanted. Billy, whom you may know is now a Greek food addict, had to have a gyros - as you can see he was in heaven! We finished up dinner and fell into bed exhausted.

Friday we headed out via the subway to explore the bio-sphere, the insectarium, the planetarium and the old Olympic stadium. The kids were skeptical but given no choice we ready to practice their French, well their limited French. The bio-sphere was really cool a sort of fully enclosed tropical rain forest type thing. We saw tons of animals, walked through a forest that got me seriously home sick for deer season, it smelled just like the north woods, awesome. We even saw a gigantic Gueenne pig, the thing that made our skin crawl when we were in Costa Rica a couple of years ago, it was huge and made the most blood curdling noise, prehistoric (a Capaybara)! The insectarium was sort of a let down but there were several really crazy looking gigantic cock roach looking things from Indonesia that I hope were not present whilst we slept in India, Ode to a hard freeze comes to mind!
The planetarium was unbelievable and Tracy & Billy just geeked out. Way way cool. The stadium was not accessible while we were there so we headed back to the condo and met Carol and her daughter Lauren for dinner. They were shocked at how big the kids were and they took us to this awesome Latin walk in dive of a place that has seriously 'shut the front door' good food! Chorizo tacos, fresh salsa and guac, you gotta eat here!

Saturday we headed out to tour Old Montreal, think cobblestone streets, narrow roadways, coffee shops, small cafes, art galleries ...a real European feel, artsy. The kids were in awe of Notre Dame cathedral, it was stunning. The actually sat still and listened during the tour and even places a few loony's in the collection basket and we lit candles and said a prayer, religious experience. We wandered around the little village (if you will) and then headed into the science museum, and the had  reciprocity with their sister museum in Toronto, one where we belong so bingo a freebie! There were several great interactive stations where we made a balloon body suit, made up scary stories to be told around a campfire and the kids even got to levitate, how fun is that! Dinner was at the crazy good Greek restaurant, Billy was in heaven - again, we meet Carol and her husband David, we did not get to see Josh, bummer. David and Carol both drove so they gave us a ride back to our place an a tour on Mount Royal and a trip to the Montreal Bagel factory, which is awesome. The make the bagels and cook them in a wood burning oven, and soak the bagels in a honey water mixture that makes them both super moist and crunchy at the same time, foodie in me was in awe. AND, it operates 24/7. Crazy talk!

Sunday we had those bagels and coffee and then headed back to the subway - to the train - to the Toronto subway - to walk home, rather urban of us don't you think!?! Montreal was a blast and we will definitely make a return trip, OUIOUI Mercie! Kay was definitely done :)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Scholastic Update

The reports cards are here the reports cards are here.....
Well not really the progress reports came out last week and the kids as usual did great! The Elementary Progress Report Cards is designed to show the your child's development of the learning skills and work habits as well s general progress in working towards the achievement of the curriculum expectations in all subjects. Translated it means the first few rounds are a tie as the fighters feel each other out..just saying.

The areas of focus for the progress reports are in two separate categories with several subsets of each. They are Learning skills and work habits, the subcategories are: responsibility, organization, independent work, collaboration, initiative and self-regulation. The second category is subjects which include: language, French, ( not Billy), Mathematics,Science and Technology, History, geography, Health and Phys-Education and The Arts.

Jimmy has really taken to being a self starter as far as homework and taking ownership of his studies. So much so he is now using that as a platform to get his own computer, because he could get his homework done without having to tie up the home I said a real self starter. Jimmy is meeting or exceeding every one of the categories and is extremely focused on the arts and playing drums for the first time in front of his peers. He is committed to school and his focus is paying off!! His goal is to make honor roll and at this pace, he'll get there! fun to see him taking a responsible approach to school:)

Kay is a super enthusiastic learner, loves school, all sorts, and she too is meeting or exceeding in all the categories, well except two, which are organization and self-regulation. However in her defense it is hard to be a budding artist, culinary protégé and follow the rules to a T. She is doing very well in French and is out of the park when it comes to drama, but we knew that already!

Billy can not get enough of social studies and he rounds out the trifecta of meeting and or exceeding expectations. He did score a progressing very well in social studies. He also can use art to express ideas about what he cares about in his community and environment. (what ever that means) Billy is super happy in third grade, loves his teacher, his friends and Canada. Hes the kid that would want to stay here permanently. Canada has been really good to Billy, he's come into his own.

All in all high marks, and a great start to the school year, well done!!
We are proud of you!!!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Final Football Game Post

The Grizzlies came into the championship game full of determination, grit and self confidence, they had become football team.

They didn't let just anybody in that club, it took every ones full heart and sweat and blood,
to get to wear those game day jersey's down the hall, the Kings of school.
The Boys of Fall.

The Grizzlies were  going up against the Burlington Stampede, a team that beat he Grizzlies last year 55 to 0, the boys were ready. In his Facebook post the tight-end for the Grizzlies ( and the only tight end in the league) number 77 Jimmy Murphy had this to say to his teammates "all of the training, running and practices have come down to this game. The AAA Championship. Let's Go Grizzlies!!!!"

Well it's turn and face the stars and stripes,
it's fighting back the butterflies,
It's call in the air alright yes sir we want the ball
And it's knockin' heads and talking trash,
It's slingin' mud and dirt and grass
It's I got your number, I  got your back,
When your backs against the wall.
You mess with one man, you got us all.
The Boys of Fall.

The Grizzlies came out of the locker room marched into the field and took that heart, soul, sweat and blood and the end of the first half it was Grizzlies 14 Burlington 12. The game was full of incredible offense and defensive plays, the boys on both sides of the ball played every down like it was the last and the fans were in awe of the performance and the game. It truly was a once in a lifetime game...

In the second half the intensity went up. Jimmy played flawless football, caught 2 key passes ran each for a first down and set up  a run that got the Grizzlies to the one yard line and after 3 quarters the Grizzlies were up 20 to 12.

Well it's turn and face the stars and stripes,
it's fighting back the butterflies,
It's call in the air alright yes sir we want the ball
And it's knockin' heads and talking trash,
It's slingin' mud and dirt and grass
It's I got your number, I  got your back,
When your backs against the wall.
You mess with one man, you got us all.
The Boys of Fall.

The Stampede, the number one team in the league were not in first place by a flook, they are a great football team and with just 3 minutes to go tied the game 20 to 20. The Grizzlies fumbled the ball and the Stampeded got it back with a little more than a minute to play and two plays later they too fumbled the ball. The Grizzlies threw a pass to their tight-end (Jimmy) who ran the ball down the field to about the 50 yard line and the game was over, tied and into overtime.
The way over-time works is ...each teams gets the same about of possessions to try and score. Meaning if the first team scores, then the opponent gets a chance, if they don't score the game is over if they do then it goes into another overtime until there is a winner.

They didn't let just anybody in that club, it took every once of heart and sweat and blood,
to get to wear those game day jersey's down the hall, the Kings of school.
The Boys of Fall.

The Grizzlies won the coin toss and after a near turn over and loss of 15 yards', came back to center. Hand off to the running back, great outside blocking and the Grizzlies were up again 26 to 20, the point after was blocked. The Stampede came out strong and after a hard fought battle scored and they to missed the extra point and the game was tied again at 26 apiece.

In little towns that's all they got
Newspaper clippings fill the coffee shops
The old men will always think they know it all
young girls will dream about the boys off fall.

The second overtime starts with the last team to have the ball. The Stampede came out and drove the Grizzles back and after 2 first downs and two near turn overs, scored and took the lead for the first time on the game, they missed the extra point and the score was 32 to 26. In his Facebook post the tight end for the Grizzlies summed up the game with this:
 "The championship came down to the wire. The game went to double overtime. We scored, then they scored, then they scored again. Then we were driving to tie the game. We hand it off to our running back, he plowed forward for about 7 yards, then all of the sudden the ball is on the ground they recover it and that was the game. Coaches debated with the ref but his decision was final. Final score of the game was 32-26. Great game and an overall great season. Get them next year boys"

We are proud of the Grizzlies and Jimmy. The team played hard and stayed in there and never, ever gave up. However we were never more proud of Jimmy than when he came out of the locker rooms tears coming down his face, his head held high and high 5'ing his teammates. Coach Ron cam up to Jimmy and said 'I am proud of you stand tall you are a winner'! Jimmy's Offensive Coach, Coach Ainsley was unable to talk he was choked up and gave Jimmy a hug and barely got the words " Thanks for  great season" out of his mouth.

They didn't let just anybody in that club, it took every once of heart and sweat and blood,
to get to wear those game day jersey's down the hall, the Kings of school.
The Boys of Fall.

Way to go Grizzlies!!!!!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Halloween, Football and Spanish Class what a weekend!

The ghost and goblins were out in force here on Halloween and the kids joined right on in!
Jimmy was hoping for a football practice to get in the way of his having to get a costume this year and for a moment it looked like it was going to happen but at he last minute the team decided there was to much at stake to risk the kids coming to practice with all the goblins on the loose, so he had to scramble and come up with a costume. Lucky we have few " spares" laying around and he chose to trick or treat as Stewie Griffin from the family guy. For not wanting to go out he left the house with his buddies around 4:00 and came home at 8:30.

Kay and Billy spent several days trying on costumes and after several botched attempts settles on a witch, Kay and a storm trooper, Billy. Billy's TKD has a Halloween party every year complete with candy, lots of running around and pizza! Then it was home for large back packs to store the loot and off with the neighbor kids for several hours of uninterrupted candy mania. I may have forgot to mention that it was about 45 degrees and raining the whole time but did that stop the Red Barron from rising out of the pumpkin patch, I say bah, bring on the candy!! We wandered the neighborhood with several friends, went to the haunted house, yes one of the neighbors sets up an actual haunted house complete with zombies, creepy things, smoke and mirrors and it was awesome. Tracy hung around home and handed out around 200+ pieces of candy, it was nuts. In fact the trick or treaters were relentless and Jimmy had to dig into his own stash to give the last few a treat, it was then blow out the candle , shut the lights, have a bowl of potato leek soup with the neighbors and then off to slumber dreaming of cavities, trips to the dentist and more candy!!! Happy Haddoween, as Jimmy used to say !

Saturday morning brough the last day of Spanish Cooking class for Tom and one step closer to his Chef Certificate! The class was all about farmer influenced recipes and produce and marrying them with treats from the sea, the field and a bit of sweetness, it was awesome. This class featured Chef Beverly and she brought great insight, stories and challenged us each and every class. Now we have several awesome paella's, stews, lamb and meatball recipes for your enjoyment next time  you stop by! Tom's friend Sylvia has been in several classes with him and they finally were photographed doing something besides talking with the Chef and BSing about food!

Sunday afternoon the Grizzlies took the field against the Twin City Wildcats, a team that beat the Grizzlies 26 to 6 in the last meeting.  The Grizzlies took the field and Jimmy with a swagger of confidence and determination got them fired up in his traditional no holds barred chanting. The Grizzlies won the coin toss and 3 plays later were in the end zone, 6 to 0 and they never looked back. The boys played an almost flawless football game, and they won the game 28 to 6 giving up a touchdown with less than a minute to play, which considering the kids on the field had never played defense before was awesome. Jimmy play tight end and in this game, even caugth a pass and ran for a 1st down. He's the only cathcing tightend in his age group. Pretty cool. For the record, Jimmy is the 3rd string quarterback and was brought into the game with less than 30 seconds to play because he can execute the perfect 'taking of the knee', the cli[p below demonstrates his ability. In his quarterback career he has, no completions, no interceptions and a total of minus 2 yards! The team is exactly where the want to be going into the championship game on a roll and facing Burlington, the other team that beat the Grizzlies earlier this year. This boys are focused and determined GO Grizzlies !!!

PSA: The Toronto Police have been relentless and methodical trying to get to the bottom of the crack cocaine issues surrounding our Mayor, Rob Ford. In a statement yesterday the Mayor said " Yes I did try crack cocaine, that was over a year ago and I am not an addict! As far as the video tape showing me smoking crack, I need to see that I may have been in one of my drunken stupors " really,, don't blame me I was drunk, Mayor Ford your going with that!?!?!?! You cant make this stuff up...
More to come.......

Thursday, October 31, 2013

I'm not changing my swing, Gummy worms and another strong showing in TKD

OK so each of the kids has begun to settle into school, extracirculars and the normalcy of life if you use that word when discussing the Loudamericans.....

Jimmy has really taken to school, studying and being responsible , which we really appreciate and just when we started to think "wow maybe he gets it" we find out he is in another competion of sorts. The kid excels whenever he is challenged or when he sees a chance to compete. Turns out at school there is a student of the month award, for the student that excels in the classroom, goes above and beyond around school, turns all their homework in and on time, you know the new millennium of teachers pet. Jimmy wants that distinction!! Hence the drive to get his work done. Now, being competitive is great on the sporting field and trying to convince your child to take that same competitiveness into the classroom is hard to do and that he has gravitated there all by himself tells us we are doing a great job!
He also is trying out for every team he can. (remember, he's a team kid) last year there was a teachers strike and there were no after school sports, which caused a student strike (see post from Dec 2012)Anyway he made the 7 & 8 grade softball team. They had practice after school in preparation for playing in tournaments. The way it works is that of you win the first tournament then your team keeps going and the goal is to play in the all city championship. So after going to practice and complaining about not hitting the ball, we suggested to the lad that perhaps he should adjust his swing for softball as it is under hand and slow pitch, to which he replied, rather vehemently, " I worked all summer on my swing and I'm not changing it for softball, no way"
Needless to say the team did not advance past the first tournament. He is now trying out for volleyball and just found out that even though it is a 7th & 8th grade team, the coach has decided that since the current group of 8th graders did not get to play last year ( because of the strike), and that the 8th graders are taller than the 7th graders, he is only going to pick 8th graders to play on the team. Jimmy's response " Coach that doesn't make since for a couple of reasons, one that means that next year the 7th graders won't be able to play because you will only pick 8th graders and  I am taller than all the 8th graders except for one?" Perhaps another student strike is imminent?

Kay on the other hand has been rolling along biding her time until Halloween, but more on that later. She has been working extremely hard at gymnastics and recently decided to try her hand at acro and dance. Yep she wants to sign up for dance lessons and acro lessons, acro is like advanced tumbling of sorts while dance is well dance, rhythm, beat, in sync things that well gymnastics is not, just making a comparison. She also has taken to putting on this crazy Thing 1 & Thing 2 costume at night she says ' it keeps her warm", which I for one can  understand as it is in the mid-40's outside while in our house it is a mere 62, just saying. Of course she can't go more than a day without trying to create some food related masterpiece. The kids in her class have come to expect, yes expect, her to show up at least once a week with some kind of homemade treat, of the sugar kind, and of course she can't disappoint. She is planning a quite elaborate Halloween treat, which of she actually cleans her room for once she may be able to make, sorry, this creation will consist of chocolate pudding, gummy worms, Oreo cookies and graham crackers, more on that later... She's also joined French club. Why? Because they get to go to a French restaurant at the end of the year:).

Billy is just plain and simply loving taekwondo  ( TKD). He is moving though the belts like Bruce Lee and we are super proud of him. He just competed in a huge tournament and came in second place in both pomsae and sparing. The video below shows him doing the pomsae portion, watch the other kid....he sort of forgets where he is. Poor guy. Billy is now a green belt with a blue stripe and working hard to get to the next level.

Last week Billy and his class went to this cool place called Pioneer Village, which is a historical landmark here in Toronto and Tom volunteered. The class goes to the school there for the week and re-lives what it was like to live in Pioneer times. The kids from Billy's school, Cameron, are the only kids in the city that actually get to do this so it is really special. They all dress up in period outfit's, as all the people in the village do, the class is conducted in the same manner, girls on one side boys on the other, the kids have to stand up when called upon and answer the question asked and sit back down when the teachers asks them to, it was really fun! The kids brough their lunch in baskets and galvanized pails and wrote on the big blackboard with chalk. They visited different buildings like the blacksmith, tinsmith, printers, doctor and even a general store.

So with all this going on it is no wonder that Nikki needs some serious rest!
Next up Halloween more to come.......