Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Victoria Day- Staycation

The Victoria Day long weekend was rapidly approaching and we had yet to makeup our minds where we were going to visit. Several areas were in our sights but do to kids sports and commitments (& expense, not to mention stress) we decided to stay home and hang out around Toronto.

Leading into the weekend was the annual Toronto School Board Track & Field Event, this event comes out of nowhere around the middle of June, there is no real warning just a notice that your child has been chosen to participate and in what events. Kay was the only Loudamericans to make the event as was part of the 400 meter relay team and the standing long jump. Jimmy, Tom and the phy-ed teacher are at odds, which is why Jimmy did not make it, long story moving in.
Kay ran her big o' heart out, jumped like the wind and came in 5th overall in both of her events!! Below is a video of her portion of the relay race. She made up a ton of time, especially for a kid doing front walk overs on the starting line while she waited for the gun to go off....

Saturday we spent the day doing our usual kids schedule, Jimmy getting fitted for baseball, Billy with Tae Kwan Do and Kay having a nice date day with Tracy. The date day consisted of riding their bikes up to the local Michaels store where someday soon Kay will have her own account and room for creating arts and crafts, good God!.  Then after the frenzy at Michaels it was off to the  local Thai restaurant Pho, which the two of them have been dying to try. Once filled with yummy Thai Mango salad it was  off to the Hollywood Salon, for pedicures and other girly indulgences.
Saturday night we decided it was time once again to venture up the road to our second favorite Korean restaurant, Nak Wan, if I need to tell you what our favorite is your not an avid follower of the blog!
It is always amazing the amount of food and the speed in which the kids consume it. We have all our favorites and literally 15 minutes later they are licking the plates clean, it is funny to see the look on the servers face when the kids are eating the food before the server can even get it on the table, funny nuts. Of course what is a Saturday Night at the Loudamericans with out a couple of cooking shows complete with notebooks and meal planning agendas!

Sunday was centered around Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican Celebration of food. In 2011 Tom was sitting in a Doctors office waiting for one of the kids and spied a magazine that featured the foods of Mexico and what was called Mexican Chic, and with the old Catholic guilt creepy up he took the magazine only to discover that it was a complimentary issue free for the taking. Ever since, he has been thinking about these recipes and ruminating about creating a Cinco De Mayo event, and today it came to fruition, and OMG was it awesome!!!
The creation of the different dishes involved several styles of denaturing as well as marinades that require a minimum of 6-8 hours to reach their peak spiciness and sweetness. What does one do in the meantime, well Tracy and Billy jumped in the car and headed over to LEGOLAND for their date day.
Billy has been counting down the hours, minutes and seconds on his trusty wristwatch (well bicep watch) and was up and at 'em early Sunday morning. He proceeded to get his chores done in record time and without being prompted, ate a huge breakfast and was ready to, way to cute.

They returned home in time to help put the finishing touches on the meal which was: Shrimp Ceviche Shots with spicy red peeper mango, radish hearts of palm tomato salad with cheese mojo, string beans with sherry vinaigrette and chopped eggs, yellow rice with saffron and turmeric served with slow roasted braised pork shoulder topped with Salsa Verde, OMG!! It was an interactive affair with a few of Tom's George Brown classmates helping out and Kay being the Sous Chef, not a bit off left-overs! Sylvia and Mimi each brought a dessert, one of course, Sofrita's with cinnamon and sugar and the other cake pops and melt in your mouth chocolate cubes, red wine and some tequila rounded the evening nicely!

Monday being a holiday we decided we need to head west and get out of town for a day and headed out to the acclaimed African Lion Safari. It is located about an hour and a half west of Toronto and features animal shows and a drive through safari. The kids were on the negative side until we reached the park and then feel in line. The shows were about what you would expect however the drive through safari was pretty cool. The best part was when the baboons leaped up onto our car and we had to wait them out. The kids were screaming (or was it Tracy?) In any event the safari was fun and now we can say that we have been there and done that. Another bucket list item marked - CHECK! Happy Victoria Day to everyone and more to come......

Saturday, May 17, 2014

day in the life

Thought we'd share a glimpse into a day in the life, week in the life of the Loudamericans.  We've been on a bit of a "break" between chef school and basketball but no more, its full steam ahead on summer sports and activities!

  • 12-5 - Tom has chef school - cheese class right now, yum!
  •  1-5 - Kay has gymnastics
  •  4-5 - Jimmy and Billy have piano lessons
  •  Tracy has been managing a bike ride and dog walk with Billy has her biking companion on the dog walk:)
  • 5:30-6 - Acro dance for Kay
  • 6:15-7 - Tae Kwon Do for Billy (TKD)
  • 4:30-11 - Chef class for Tom - artisian breads!!
  • 4-5 - tutoring for Jim with our friend Adam (he's helping Adam become a better reader, Adam is 8) 
  • Andrew is our driving sitter and covers between Tom leaving for school and Tracy getting home from work - thank god for  sitters that can drive!
  • 4:30-8:30 gymnastics for you know who
  • 4:45-5:30 TDK for you know who's younger brother
  • 6:30-8:30 Football practice for you know who's older brother UNLESS he has a baseball game (at either 6:30 or 8:30) at which point we do a little juggling act
  • 4-5 - Jimmy and Adam are back at their books
  • 5:30-6:15 TKD (sensing a pattern?)
  •   4:30-8:30 - Thing 1
  • 4:45-5:30 - TKD for Thing 2 followed by soccer (new sport alert!) from 6:30-8:15
  • 6:30-8:30 - Football practice for the Cat in the Hat (luckily football and soccer are at the same stadium)
  • 4-5 - Books Books Books, Jimmy and Adam
  • 6:15-7:00 TKD
  • 10-12 Football  2-3:30 Baseball 4-4:30  Drums - can you guess who this is? 
  •  1:30-4 - TKD, Olympic training for competitions
Sunday - it stars all over again...
We DO have dinner together every night but now you can see why 8:45pm is our preferred dinner hour.  On top of this, we do try to see friends, neighbors and luckily have friends in the same situation so casual get to togethers at peoples houses are the norm.
In light of all this, when you ask us what we've been up to and we say we've been busy but then cant describe a single thing we've actually done or accomplished (other than racking up miles on the cars), you know why. Its a busy fun crazy life and I don't see it changing for another 8-10 years AND, I wouldn't have it any other way. How lucky are we that we can afford these activities,  from an in interest, health, financial and availability perspective?!. We are blessed!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

We here in the Loudamericans world are blessed with a hard working, caring, generous, insightful and loving Mom and wife.

Looking back over the last year it is with amazement what we each have been blessed with in our life's thanks to Tracy.

Chef School, and I mean WOW, a dream come true and a super special person to share it with. Travels and trips galore and many lasting and wonderful memories.
 Football, baseball, basketball, Montreal, Hoodies out of control, hugs and insight, challenges, drums and more drums, and love. Gymnastics, braces, make-up, cooking classes, sleep-overs, my own drawer in the kitchen jammed full of stuff that drives my mom crazy, late night hugs, new dresses, lip stick and lip gloss, loving me even when I sometimes make it difficult. Taekwondo, LEGOLAND, camps, hugs when my growing pains hurt, shelter and food, laughing and knowing that I love my mom and love being a kid. Walked everyday even in the rain and snow and petting me even if I have to go in and out of the house 20 times a minute.

It is not hard to look around and she what Tracy brings to our lives everyday and how she does it regardless of the hours she also puts in at work. She is determined that we have dinner every night as a family and we thanks for making that happen and for taking us each on a date day and all the other Mom things you do for us.
We have lived in Minneapolis, India, Minneapolis, Canada and have traveled all over the world and we want you to know  no matter where we go, we will never be alone, because anywhere beside you, is the place that we call HOME!
Happy Mothers Day we love you we bless you and we are excited for what comes next.....

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Kids Update

It's hard to believe that the winter is over and we are in the middle of Spring, I mean its almost the middle of May and school will be out before you know it, what time warp were we trapped in oh yeah we have kids....

Billy and his class just finished their final field trip as third graders, to Bathurst Glen a Toronto Conservation Authority area of around 200 acres of wetlands, woods and old abandoned cottages.
The kids had planted aquatic plant seedlings in the classroom earlier in the Spring and the trip was to put them into the environment for which they were made. The bus ride was super long and the kids were more than ready to spend the day outside. Fortunately for us it was a super sunny and warm day as this event is a rain or shine kind of thing, we were planting aquatic plants after all.

The TCA staff was ready and had several stations set up for the kids to learn about planting, indigenous plants and animals, as well as tips for going green around the house. I have attended several of the learning type of field trips where the instructor spend most of their talked arming the kids with information they need to take home and tell their parents, insinuation that us parents are the problem, when in reality it is not the case! In any case, one of the tips that was sent home from this event was that you should never ever wash your vehicles at home. That is because all that soap goes down the driveway into the storm sewers and into the local river and then into the lake. Never mind that there is soap available that is biodegradable and made just for this purpose, go to the car wash. One of the kids (who will remain nameless) ask " what if we cant go to the car wash?" The solution: drive your vehicle onto your grass so that the grass will absorb the soap and salt and road grime from your vehicle, see what I'm saying!

Billy and the third graders had a great time, planted their plants, had an awesome picnic lunch with the sunshine and beautiful weather, nice warm breeze and it all came to an abrupt end when one of the boy's yelled " Hey look a snake......

Kay (once again) stepped onto the gymnastics floor and rocked the tournament. She is so focused and determined that a bomb could go off and she wouldn't even know it. School starts everyday at 8:45 and it is a fight to get her out the door on time, gymnastics starts at 7:30 and the meets are usually a half hour or so from the house and she is up and feed and ready to go without batting an eye!
She is continuing to impress and is moving ever so close to hitting a perfect 10.

In this past meet, which lasted forever, she again is the only 10 year old from her academy that is a level 3 so she usually is in the meet by herself, she hit a 9.65 on her floor routine. The bars she has been doing great on as well and scored a 9.55. The beam, which she is usually very confident on she wobbled a bit on her back walk over and score a 9.25. The vault which continues to be her nemesis she scored an 8.8, to which Kay commented, that's my best score yet!

This meet had 3 separate groups of level 3 10 years and a total of about 30 kids. Kay again won 1st overall for her group and she was 1st overall out of all the kids by quite a margin, she posted a 37.3 and there was none else even in the 30's. So three down and 2 more to go..... If that wasnt enough to wear her out, she also planned a spa day for her and Tracy in her bedroom. 2 types of facials (chocolate, cornstarch and honey mixtures), 2 body scrubs (salt and food coloring spread around the house) a foot bath and I got my hair done. She is a busy busy lady and very creative. It was really fun to have girl time with her - its the clean up afterwards that wore Tracy out:).

Jimmy has just completed what he is calling his 'first' Pro-Bowl. There is a group here called the Ontario Prospect Challenge. There are two teams that are formed from the top 100 kids in central and western Toronto. The purpose behind this event is for the older kids, going into high school and college, to have a venue where the recruiters from the different area schools can come and watch the top kids play and then attempt to recruit them. That is Ok for that age level but the grade 7 kids are no where near being recruited and where sort of added to the mix because, "Hey, since we are getting the parents to pay a ton of money for the older kids, let's take advantage of our captive audience and extract huge sums of money from the same parents for the younger siblings", just saying...

There are no kick offs, no blitzing and no double teaming allowed, Pro-Bowl type of format. The teams had the ability to start practicing in February, the opponents did, Jimmy's team did not. The Central team, which is the team Jimmy was on, had 2 full equipment practices for about 3 hours each and 1 2 hour helmet only walk through. The game was 4, 12 minute quarters, and the Central team had 2 calls against them in the first quarter alone for to many players on the field, which I must point out the first job of the coach is to make sure there are the correct amount of players on the field, out coached to say the least.

The bottom line is, Jimmy made the team, had fun and got to play in a University stadium and see himself on the giant Jumbotron, so all good from that perspective. The final score was 37 to 18 with Central on the loosing end. After the game Jimmy commented ' Well know I know what it must be like playing in the Pro-Bowl and I'm not doing this again", When Tracy asked Jimmy about them game his comment was " We played like a team that only had 3 practices" more to come......