Friday, May 31, 2013

MS 150 - 7 days and counting....AHHHHHHH

Oh…my…. We are 1 week away and I could use another 4 weeks on many different levels!!

Fundraising – might need to focus my “wins” this year on fundraising and not training (more on that later). You are all AMAZING!  $2,195 on a goal of $2,500 – already ahead of last year and all most there, we can do it!!
Keep the $ comingJ

Training – not going to be my best year. Spring was late and then really wet and windy. I have been getting some rides in after work but…I’d characterize my training and short but frequent. No long rides yet, but 4-5/week 60-90 min rides on my mountain bike.  We’ll see how that translates into two 7 hour days on a road bike.  I just keep reminding myself, I am doing the best I can at the moment.

So, the next update will be post ride. I will let you know how it goes and….

If you aren’t able to help with $$, send me good vibes…. Cloudy, mid 60’s, downhill, wind at my back, Advil, loose muscles and cold beer at the finish.

Sounds like a nice weekendJ

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

15 years ago gathered on the side of a sunlight hill in Annandale,

Little Nutbrown Hare, who was going to bed, held on tight to Big Nutbrown Hare's very long ears.
He wanted to be sure that Big Nutbrown Hare was listening. "Guess how much I love", he said.
"Oh, I don't think I could guess that," said Big Nutbrown Hare.
"This much" said Little Nutbrown Hare, stretching out his arms as wide as they could go.
Big Nutbrown Hare has even longer arms. " But I love you this much," he said.
Hmm, that is a lot, thought Little Nutbrown Hare.

" I love you as high as I can reach," said Little Nutbrown Hare.
" I love you as high as I can reach," said Big Nutbrown Hare. Then Little Nutbrown Hare has a good idea. He tumbled upside down and reached up the tree trunk with his feet. " I love you all the way to my toes!" he said. " And I love you all the way up to your toes," said Big Nutbrown Hare swinging him up over his head.

" I love you as high as I can hop!" laughed Little Nutbrown Hare, bouncing up and down.
" But I love you as high as I can hop," smiled Big Nut Brown Hare- and he hopped so high that his ears touched the branches above. That's good hopping, thought Little Nutbrown Hare. I wish I could hop like that.

" I love you all the way down the lane as far as the river," cried Little Nutbrown Hare.
" I love you across the river and over the hills," said Big Nutbrown Hare.

That's very far, thought Little Nut Brown Hare. He was almost too sleepy to think anymore. Then he looked beyond the thornbushes, out into the big dark night. Nothing could be father than the sky. " I love you right up to the moon," he said, and closed his eyes.

" Oh that's far," said Big Nutbrown Hare. " That's very very far." Big Nutbrown Hare settled Little Nutbrown Hare into his bed of leaves. He leaned over and kissed him good night. Then he lay down close by and whispered with a smile, "I love you right up to the moon- and back."

Happy Anniversary, I love you!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Ottawa here we come..

This past weekend was Victoria Day in Canada, commonly known as May 24, and a holiday on Monday so we set off to the Capital City of Canada and home of many interesting sites, stories and the Ottawa Senators, Go Sens! Eh.

A little PSA for any of you whom find yourself in Toronto facing a long weekend, do not leave late in the day, the 401, the main artery in and out of Toronto becomes a parking lot around 4:00. Leave early like around 3:00 am just to be safe. It took us over an hour to go 3 miles, seriously! We arrived in Ottawa a couple hours later then we wanted, found the hotel and high tailed off to the closest watering hole, I mean restaurant and walked right into a Senators Hockey Game. Every TV in every house, bar and public place had the game on and it was loud. True to form, they lost and by the time our food game everyone had left the restaurant so we were able to eat in peace.

Saturday the plan was for Tracy to get a training ride in while the rest of us slept in, one out 2 isn't bad. The day was gorgeous so we could not bring ourselves to go to the museums so we went to the ByWard Market, which is this gigantic outdoor market, farmers market, restaurant, street entertainer area. We watched street performers contort themselves into a ring and roll around in circles and not get sick, that is a talent. Kay had to stop at every shop and look around, she is a serious shopper, the boys not so much. In any event the market was fun, we had lunch at an awesome burrito place, strolled around, Jimmy found and awesome wolves' lid and Billy came up with a kite, yep?, the parental units (whom I might add are going on a cruise shortly) found a backpack that will only hold 2 passports, 2 towels and 2 books, get the picture! We found a small park loaded with tulips and a place for Kay to blow the new bubbles she bought and Billy to fly his kite, Jimmy just sat around complaining about how Ottawa does not have any good restaurants, looking cool in his new lid.
 Dinner was some really random Lebanese place that we all loved sans Jimmy, his first day in Ottawa was not good as far as food.

Saturday night we went on a Haunted walk through the downtown area along the river, a perfect scene for scary stories and weird goings on. The tour was a couple of hours and although we did not see any ghosts, the kids were engaged and had fun, a little too engaged as that night no one could sleep in their own beds. Musical beds in a 2 bed 1 roll away room is not fun.

Sunday it rained, all day and it was perfect weather to be in a museum, the Airplane & Science museum to be exact along with a really cool interactive Star Wars exhibit. The planes dated back to the beginning of time and categorized and chronicled how crazy the early pilots were. Then we headed over to the Stars Wars exhibit which, if you get a chance, you must find out if " The force is with you"

Basically the whole making of Star Wars, character building and design, outfits, human, robot  is there. You are given a bracelet, and a headset and wander from station to station answering questions, learning about human and robot behavior all in search of your own identity. Then you must chose to remain in the rebel camp or go over to the Dark Side.....Guess which 2 of us are now aligned with DarthVadar?

Sunday nigh was low key at the local Irish Pub and relaxing in the room with three amped up kids and a Disney movie.

Monday we packed up and began the trek home. PSA #2 do not attempt to return to Toronto around 6:30 in the evening because everyone that was on the 401 the previous Friday is on it again.
We stopped at this really cool cave and tour place. We learned about this crazy local guy who found the caves and remained alive after trying to kill himself several times while finding the caves, the details are worth the visit. The tour is about an hour and the perfect distraction on the way home.

We arrived in time to join out neighbors for fireworks and a bit of neighborhood bonding before falling in our own beds in our own rooms. There was a bit of news,  a worker at a children's center in Halifax was put on paid leave when it was discovered that several of the kids in her care had duct tape marks around their mouths, paid leave? The movie never ends it goes on and on and on.....
more to come!

We are planning a winter trip to Ottawa we liked it so much. Its got gorgeous bike paths, amazing architecture, 2 rivers and a canal going through town and a really cool European vibe. In the winter there is iceskating on the canal, just like the Netherlands. we'll be back.....
 cool waterfall along bike path

Billys future career, jet pilot

Jimmy and Billy sleeping in and cuddling
Pillow? that's not a pillow!

Picking our species

The guitar Canadian astronaut Chris
 Hatfield took into space

Check out the Star Wars characters we created. Jimmy was the only one to "go" to the Dark Side.

Tracys -




Thursday, May 16, 2013

Happy Mothers Day and Bringing home the Gold

Mothers Day weekend around here was full of the usual Loudamericans events with a major bonus,
Grandma and Grandpa came in for a few days to become sleep deprived like the rest of us. The weekend events included and not in any order of importance, Tom started the summer semester at George Brown (Mediterranean and BBQ), Jimmy had his first select baseball team tryout, Billy had Taekwondo sparring practice, Kay had track practice and her first gymnastics meet, Tracy had work and MS 150 training and that was just Saturday. Sunday was more school for Tom, and Mothers Day with an early celebration of Grandmas birthday. Heres a breakdown:

Jim and Bunny arrived on Thursday afternoon in time to relax before the storm. Kay's gymnastics coach has been pestering Tom for weeks wondering where his wife is? Not sure why until he inquired and as it turns out the coach was very nervous about Kay's hair for the upcoming meet, sensing a bit of prejudice he told here not to worry that Kay's Grandma was coming to take over "the hair" ownership. Being her coach is from the Ukraine, something was lost in translation. However we we walked in the door and Kay's Coach saw Grandma and figured out what was going on she stated "I am now very happy". We all met back at the homestead had a great dinner of Chapplupa's finished homework and stated our favorite part of the day was... all of us being together!

Friday was the quietest day of the bunch. The kids were off to school and Grandpa Jim and Tom have been wanting to try Wimpy's for breakfast and Grandma Bunny came along as well. To say it was good is an understatement, plates completely clean all three of us said " wow I didn't think I was going to eat all that!" What's not to like fat free, low calories, eggs, potatoes, french toast, bacon, sausage, all good! The afternoon was filled with hanging out and watching Billy practice his sparring. Tracy was able to get home early and we have a great family dinner. Curried Lemon Grass chicken, feast chicken, rice pilaf, all good. We caught up and Glee and hit the rack early Saturday was going to be a long day!

Saturday found Tom leaving at 7:30 for BBQ class totally excited for it! This class is full of awesome ways to marinade, smoke, steam, roast, deep fry, and of course BBQ not only meats,but fish and vegetables as well! Look out summer! Tracy was able to get a long dog walk and a bike ride to train for the MS150. Grandpa Jim took Jimmy to baseball practice, Billy was reacquainting himself with electronics and Grandma was busy with Kay's hair, yep this was Kay's big day, her first ever competitive Gymnastics meet. Nervous, well a little. After a bit of running around we all found our selves in the Vaughn Gymnastics Center. There were around 75 athletes between the ages of 7-9. Being this is Kay's first year she was in the group of level 2 gymnasts. Just a note that Kay practices at level 3 , but has to compete at level 2, where in Canada, Eh?

In any event the competition is set up as follows:
3:00-3:30 check-in
3:30-4:00 March in
4:00-4:30 warm Up
4:30-7:00 competition
7:00-8:00 Awards
We were all prepared for a long afternoon. Note: None of us, including Kay, have ever been to a competitive gymnastics meet, let alone a non-competitive one, meaning we had no idea what to expect and when we were walking out the door at 6:00 we were shocked! what the hell was that?

Here is a recap:
At around 4:00 all of a sudden there was a lot of activities, athletes swinging on the uneven parallel bars, floor routines, cartwheels, hand springs, the balance beam was rocking and the kids were vaulting them selves into the next room. The competition had started, no fanfare, no here we go, gun shot like track, just start on tumbling. On another side note, Kay asked me " Daddy you know this is my first meet and do you know what would make it really special?" "No honey I don't" " If when I get off the podium you had flowers for me!"

So Kay's first event was the vault, not the horse (that is for boys) the vault. She did a couple of warm-ups, the event has the gymnasts running as fast they they can, I am not sure of the rules but I think their tongue has to hang out of the right side of their mouth, the leap onto the vault thing, place their hands on the mat ( like a giant pillow) flip over land on their back, place their feet in the pike position and arms behind their head hands at a 25 degrees angle to the floor, then dismount, butt out, hands in the air, whew. Kay landed about 5 feet further than any other kid, not sure of that's good or bad?

Next up uneven parallel bars. Jump up swing around a few times hop onto the top bar dismount from 10 feet  without breaking your ankles, butt out,  hands in the air, piece of cake. The balance beam stood in the corner like the devils triangle. Kay's coach appeared out of now where and had Kay doing all these practice moves and such, not sure. After the event her coach said "you should have seen the look of determination on your daughters face when she approached the beam". Up she went immediately into the splits, roll over onto her feet, a couple of prances, a few spins, 4ft tall hops, and a cartwheel hand spring off the beam and stuck like glue, dismount, you know... the butt out, and hand thing by now.
Last up floor routine, time now 5:10? At this point I was flowerless and thinking how "Am I going to get flowers while sitting in an industrial park and worse dash the dreams of Kay? "She walked out bowed to the judges, like you ain't seen nothing yet, and nailed her routine ( see below). Grandpa Jim and Grandma Bunny took off in search of flowers thinking "we have at least an hour until the awards", wrong, they made it back just as the kids were being called to center mat.

Since Kay was at level 2 the athlete's do not get called to the podium as the judges do not want to hurt the feeling of the kids who may not have done well. So they simply call the kids by team give them a certificate and a medal stating to the crowd that the certificates have the place the kids finished.

To see Kay's face when we handed her the flowers was priceless. When she handed us her certificated well what's more than priceless?!  Kay placed first in beam, first in floor, first in vault and second in bars and GOLD MEDAL FIRST OVERALL!! Way to go Kay!

Mothers day was another more or less quiet day. Another class for Tom  training for Tracy and relaxing with Grandma and Grandpa. We had a killer French toast breakfast curtoeusy of brunch class and then Tracy created an out of the park shut the front door, dinner with smoked salmon, risotto, salad and asparagus. It is starting to sound like all we do around here is go from kid event to the other and then eat, not bad work if you can get it. The 2 mom's received several heart felt pieces of art from the kids and a few choice books, training gear and hours of massage, also more love than they know. We had a premature birthday for Grandma Bunny, her birthday was Monday, and a special pecan pie, her favorite.

A big thanks for Grandpa Jim and Grandma Bunny for coming not only for the chaos that is our daily lives but to share Mothers Day and Grandma Bunny's birthday!

To all of the wonderful Mothers out there we are blessed by all you do.
more to come...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Good Friends

My very good and longtime friend Michelle came to visit last weekend for a girls weekend. She called in mid Feb, during a snowstorm when her kids were driving her crazy and said "I gotta get out of here! When is a good time to visit?!".

Michelle and I met on the 1st day of college, we lived on the same floor in our dorm and she was the super smart, sarcastic, funny, blunt girl. I loved her the minute we met. She is still one of the smartest people I know and shes got a very "get to the point" view of life. Keeps me on my toes.

We lucked out with a sitter on Friday night and headed down to our favourite Japanese/Korean restaurant - Guu. It was so fun and loud and yummy. My kind of place:)

Tom was a gem and took on the majority of kid duty on Saturday so Michelle and I were able to take a bike ride, shop in Kensington Market, have a mimosa with lunch, see the Bata Shoe Museum, have a mid afternoon manhattan and walk along the lakeshore. (even grabbed and ice cream). It was such a nice way to chill and catch up.

Sunday was Billys Tae Kwon Do tournament and Michelle was a trouper, sitting through 5 hours of competition to see Billy participate for exactly 90 seconds. She got to try a Tim Hortons Double Double and the kids were thrilled to take her to Jack Astors, so...all was not lost.

I flew home with her on Sunday as I need to be in MPLS for work Mon and Tues. It worked out great as we were able to keep our girls weekend going a bit longer with gossip magazines and a glass of wine on the flight. Work travel with your friends is the only way to go!

Then, I doubly lucked out, Monday night, my good friend Annette was able to meet me for dinner.  Annette and I met through her ex 20 years ago when she started doing my hair. I'd make a Friday afternoon hair appointment so that we could go out afterwards. She has since switched careers, but shes still my go to person for all grooming advice (which I desperately need)  We headed out for Mexican and it was so awesome to catch up on some more girl time. I dont think she's thrilled that I'm letting my hair go grey but... shes an awesome friend and kept it to herself:)    

 Its amazing and so wonderfully special when you have friends that have known you forever and even if you havent seen or talked to them in 9 months, its just exactly the same - comfortable, fun and a million things to talk about.   I love my girlfriends!! I'm so blessed!     

Saturday, May 11, 2013

MS150 training/fundraising update

Well, we are 4 weeks away and I have to say, fundraising is going MUCH better than training…$1,455 more than ½ way to my goal! Yippee!!! Keep the $$ comingJ

 In terms of training, April was a month of rain and 40 degree weather, not great biking weather but I’m not complaining… MPLS had SNOW all month. So, looking at the bright side, I’m not any further behind than any of my biking buddies. 

 I had my 4th ride last night and have a new mid-week program.  Ride for an hour after work a few times a week before I pick up Kay. This means I bring my bike to work, get outfitted up and then set off to find adventure in Mississauga. As luck would have it, I did find a limestone bike path that rides along a creek and the airport. An interesting combination but nice to not have to battle traffic.

Thanks for all your support!  And wish me luck as I super-size my training…

(my other glass ½ full thought?! No matter how little I train, nothing can be as bad as last year’s ride….right?!  Hope I didn’t just jinx us…)

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Kids Update

We are bounding into Spring/Summer and around here things have picked up speed (if thats even possible!).

Billy continues his reign of "Tae Kwan Do" Terror. He recently competed in the All Canada Tae Kwan Do tournament and true to form he placed first in Poomsae. For those who are not in the know, Poomsae, has Billy on the mat or in the ring by himself and his goal is to reenact what ever number move sequence that the judge asks. He is now a yellow belt with a green stripe so all the moves are in that category. There is precision, sounds and form that make up the perfect Poomsae, which of course the little engineer was able to do quite well result: Gold Medal!

In the last tournament Billy dominated the sparring rounds, which for those not in the know, it is actually what you think - controlled planning with pads. Two contestants, or as Billy prefers, combatants, enter the ring bow to each other and proceed to kick each other to death. Billy won his first championship 11-2. He must have made a big impression on the other yellow belt/ green stipers because there was only one brave contestant in all of Canada that dared step into the ring with Ol' Bill. However moments before the bout the cold feet set in as Billy was getting ready and the other contestant bailed out.  Gold Medal for Billy! Awesome job Billy!

Bonjour Mademoiselle! Kay has been learning French and the French field trip found Tom and Kay along with the rest of the 5th and 6th graders at a local French restaurant,. The goal = order in French, speak only in French and have fun. Well that was easy for the kids. Tom just smiled, said Oui and ate great French food! The field trip included a ride on the city bus and a strong lesson in manners/etiquette.

Also, please note Kay's sharp new bang "cut". VERY early 90's Jeanine Garafalo. Loving it!

The food was great and the kids did an awesome job. The French teacher has obviously taken this trip before as was evident by the efficient way the trip was planned. We had to pre-order, we had Pouillet ( chicken) others had spaghetti, in any language, spaghetti is spaghetti! The food came minuets after we sat down and was awesome. Then for dessert we each had a huge brownie covered in ice cream and whipped cream. That was delivered about 5 minutes before we left which was spot on! By the time we walked the block to the bus stop the kids were all pumped up on sugar!

Kay has been having some difficulty lately with long division. Tracy spent time with her and got her re-acquainted with her multiplication tables and low and behold, "Mommy I think I got it". The next test came home with a 100% 6 out of 6! Way to go Kay! Kay has been having several play dates lately with her friend Jessica and when Jimmy asked Kay what her in Jessica have in common Kay stated " Well we have common enemies". She is gearing up for her first competitive gymnastics meet this weekend so more on that to come.

This past week at Cameron, the school Billy and Kay attend, had their 15th Annual Young Authors Day. The kids write a story based on ideas they develop in class and then parents, Grandparents come to school to hear the Young authors recite their stories.. The gym is set up like a reading room and the Authors go around from one adult to the next reading the stories and getting feedback, a great idea!  Billys story was an epic battle against aliens with his friends William, STephen and Morgan. Kays? Poems of all sorts - limericks, haikus, rhymes. Very cool. 

Batter-Up! Jimmy is now full into baseball, new shoes, batting/catching gloves, bat and bat bag. He is on a house team and tried out (along with 35 other kids) to make the select team. The select team is made up of the 12 best players from the house league. He (of course) grabs his gloves, stuffs his mouth full of gum and heads to the park, "let me at em, let me at em'! The tryouts were last Saturday and then began the waiting for in this day of age the call back (which is actually not a call but an e-mail).  Like we have nothing better do then sit around waiting for the telltale 'ding you have mail'. Well we had dinner, hung out and sure enough 'ding', and Jimmy got the call back to come try out again.

Sunday we headed over to the park, dropped Jimmy off and ran a few errands.  Thing 1 & thing 2 waited in the car as I went in search of the lad and before I could even get past the gate, "Dad guess what ?! let's go get my new select uniform!" Result: Big Smile! He made select and is their top catcher, the position he was born to play. 

 To top it off he game on yesterday with a 93 on his math test which for the first time all year, he had the highest grade in the class! Way to go Jimmy!

More to come....

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Michigan or Communism close call

With a full schedule of events rolling on a brief moment of quiet descended upon us so we got in the Pilot and drove to Michigan, well why not? Tammy, Tracy's sister's son Joey was making his first Communion so we decided to take the kids and go visit the cousins, G&G Hickey and Sue, sort of a mini family reunion.

The drive over was quiet uneventful and we were able too use our Nexus passes to sail right through customs and the boarder patrol, Nikki included. It is with a sort of sad induced glee that I must report the use of electronics has reached a level I never thought would have occurred. A mere 4 years ago we had our kids convinced that we would be an electronics free family, really, they had the mantra down. Packing for the trip entailed, 3 car chargers, check, 2 i-phones, check, 1 i-pod, check, 1 psp, check, back up electronic gear, small generator and 3 sets of head phones, check, who needs to have verbal communication skills anyway. we arrived late Friday night and of course the kids had to play which meant trade electronic gear with the cousins and ignore each other for an hour or so. The adults spent the time catching up and unwinding.

Saturday was full of regular family activities, baseball games, soccer and running around. The weather was great and the kids played outside as we were really killing time until the big event! Jimmy was on a roll and could not let go of the fact that Joey was turning Communist and have his first Communism, he's here all week! This is the first exposure for th Loudamericans in going to a Chatholic Ceremnony and if it were not for the cake and cookies after, they would have been bored.
One thing from my Catholic upbringing no rerason to getr tot he Church to early! Good thing we assigned pews and both Tracy and I were very proud of the kids,, they were quiet and well behaved, well except at the time of Communion. Jimmy got up and tried to get in line, Tracy asked him what he was doing, his respone " Wanted to see what Jesus tastes like", we need to spend a bit more time on religion with the kids. We had a nice dinner at the country club, the kids ate first and then someone came and took them away. It was really nice, we were able to have an great dinner and conversation.

Sunday was a nice Brunch affair and then taking the kids to the pool to wear them out for the ride home. A trip to Grand Haven is not complete without a trip to Butch's Beach Burritos, Butch does not dissapoint. The trip home was more of the same however we did stop for a moment of thanks to Target for the Nexxus passes. The line to cross the border started on the Michigan side and we were able to drive right through and saved easily 2 hours of waiting in line!

More to come.......