Monday, August 18, 2014

Soccer & Select Baseball Play-offs

Not to many people can claim that during the weekend they are planning to move from one country to another their kids end up in an all out play-off extravaganza, well unless your the Loudamericans and then it's just another weekend.

Billy took to playing soccer this summer and was an all in kid. He had no real idea what he was doing but ran around for an hour once a week with a smile on his face and a keen eye on the snacks at the end of each game. The house league play is a great way for kids to start off playing a sport and if they like it there are formats for them to move on to higher quality play and to challenge themselves.
House league for Bill was the way to go. His team had a tough go of it during the regular season and some how managed to peak the weekend of play-offs. There were three games scheduled for last Saturday, with a single elimination concept, you loose you snooze win you play again, and play again they did.

Bill had a go at playing goalie and they team showed up huge for him and they won 6-0, first game in goal and a zero goals against average, not bad! The team was on fire winning each game by a sizeable margin and only giving up 2 goals in 3 games, FIFA level play! Billy was a bit short of the Man of The Match award but none the less first year, first place, AWESOME!

We are the champions my friend...and we'll go on fighting to the end....  come on, sing along!

Did we mention that it was about 55 degrees and started raining in the final game? considering Billy was not dressed for the weather and was the guy that spent most time on the bench, narry a word of compliant. That's our Bill.

Randomly Kay was doing different gymnastic moves and trying to turn the attention towards her, but cute is cute and baseball is what I'm talking about!

Jimmy has really come into his own as far as confidence and team play. Usually he is behind the plate in clutch games and this play-off stand he was called onto the mound, to yes pitch. The Wild Thing (California Penal League) was up to the challenge, however he did not like not being behind the plate. There were  6 teams that made the play-offs and Jimmy and the North York Blues were the third place team. The first game was an elementary baseball game with the skills of the boys besting the challenger in 4 innings and all was good. The problem started with the rain, then the monsoons and ending with the second game being cancelled, causing a Sunday morning game meaning to make the championship game the boys would have to play three games in one day, they were up for it.

In between the games and soccer we celebrated Jimmy's B-day, well we had dessert and he opened presents. The whole turning 13 is crazy and to top it off he now wants to learn how to shave, what happened?

The boys lost the Sunday morning game to the first place team, whom were the only undefeated team in the league and were the controversial member of the division, pretty sore winners ... but enough of that. The boys geared up after the loss to face the second place team, East York. Pitching is the key in these types of games and ours was a bit tired after the first game. As a parent you do not want to be in the position of having your child come into the game with the score tied, two outs bases loaded to be the pitcher, you really don't, trust us on that.  Jimmy has one pitch, a hard fast ball, that's it. The problem is he aim, just saying. Suffice it to say he got the third out.

So after 4 innings the game was tied 6 to 6. we were the visiting team. After our turn at bat in the 5th inning we were up 9 to 5 and Jimmy was back at the mound. A few moments later there were 2 outs bases loaded and the count was full. Now most kids may be a bit nervous in a situation like this but Jimmy was jazzed, had them right where he wanted them. The wind up and the pitch a huge pop fly to shallow center field, his team mate ran and then dove for the ball and drum roll please, game over!!!!

The boys now had to face the team that beat them earlier that morning, a tough situation. Let's just quote Jimmy here who said after the loss," you know what dad?" What son?" I'm choosing to end my season after the second game, we play great and after 6 hours of baseball we all ran out of gas, great attitude.
more to come...

 It was a great season, great team mates and coaches (including Michael at 6' 6" from the Netherland and Fabio at 5' 6" from Toronto but Italian by origin).

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Very proud of the they boys, they played their hearts out to the bitter end.

Go Blues!

And so ended the weekend before our move ...

3 soccer games, rain and a championship
5 baseball games, tough competitive kids and 2nd place  - Really really proud of all their efforts

Now we go pack....

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Thank You Neighbors

Toronto is a fast,fun and friendly city and is a relentless, ever changing, energetic, embracing , awe inspiring wonderful place. The population od Toronto proper is around 2.8 million so in terms of size it is bigger than Chicago. Just outside to the north and west of the city nestled between the 401 and Sheppard Ave, is a magical little place called West Lansing, where for the past two years we have called home.

The neighborhood is about 5 city block wide and 6 block long and in that space we had an incredible time. The families that we met invited us into their lives, showed us a part of Canada and we can only say thank you. The kids have made great friends, as have Tracy and I, we have been to Bar Mitzva's. birthdays, retirement and house warming parties and all of life celebrations (most importantly, not to be forgotten, 5th grade graduation!!) The open and inviting atmosphere really made this place special.

The kids had countless sleep-overs, we had a great many dinner parties and every morning we would have coffee at the comer and solve the world problems - it was home. The guys in the neighborhood would get together to help set up the Cameron School Fair, take the kids on a three day camping adventure, go out into he middle of a rain storm and help the neighbors who unfortunately had water in their basements, and during the ice storm went around door by door to make sure everyone was Ok. The women in the neighborhood would gather on a monthly basis and have a women's social night, get food and clothing to the local shelters, swap kids for play dates, create what was need to make sure the school Fair was a success and to make sure the kids in the neighbor had plenty to keep them happy.

This past weekend our friends Rod & Peggy threw us a going away party. It was a fun and bittersweet event that we are very grateful for. The kids friends were there as were most of our friends from the neighborhood, friends from Tom's cooking classes and a great time was had by all. Saying good-bye is the beginning of a new chapter and we will always remember the great time and experience we have had in Toronto. (see if you can find the photo bombing Mom in the photos below:)) Consider this our virtual hug to Canada Another milestone? Tracy now tears up when she hears 2 national anthems.... O Canada! Our home and native land! True patriot love in all thy sons command. With glowing hearts we see thee rise, The True North strong and free! From far and wide, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. God keep our land glorious and free! O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Friday, August 08, 2014

KCC 2014

We have made a promise to the kids that no matter where are in the world we will make sure they get to Korean Culture Camp, a promise that so far we have managed to keep.
The kids love this week more than anything else and when they get to camp they have a blast. They have even said they'd trade Christmas and their brithdays if they could go to camp every day of the year. Pretty impressive endorsement! There are a few hundred people involved and this year the number was close to 500. The camp is made up of K-6th graders, teen helpers, volunteers and a dedicated kitchen staff of which Tom has become immersed.

This year was a bit different as we were also trying to get several moving home items accomplished, like kids physicals, gymnastic and Taekwondo try-outs, meeting with our contractor at the house as well as a battery of test for Jimmy to determine which electives and regular classes he would be in, it was to say the least tiring.

The week started off we a super fun birthday/lunch with Grandpa & Grandma Murphy and a trip to the park. The kids love going on the zip line that Grandpa introduced them to a couple of years ago, however this year due to size constraints, Jimmy was unable to participate (ie: his knees hit the ground). No worries however as he had just purchased a new guitar and with the help of Grandmas phone and a wifi connection he was able to figure out which note which each string was and then proceeded to tune the guitar and has been playing non-stop ever since!

The trip was full of constant motion going to camp, visiting friends and family. Every night we had dinner with a different group and shared stories and caught up with everyone's busy lives, we also missed seeing several of our friends and family as there is only so much time, the good news is that we are moving back so we can catch up then. What is a visit back home without sleepovers, events flowing from one to the other and generally wearing ones self out with all the fun!

The main event however was KCC and participating in the camp and all the activities that it has to offer. The camp starts each day at 9:30, we however needed to arrive at 9:00 due to Tom being in the kitchen. We also had the good fortune each day to bring Lesia our 4th kid for the week, to camp with us and her and Kay kept up a constant banter about the cute teen helpers! The kids participated in traditional Korean Dance, folk songs, and their favorite class, self esteem, they think it rocks.

No vacation is complete without a vacation within a vacation and so we spent the night at Wade and Angela's celebrating Angela's birthday, the number does not matter, but it is getting close to one that does, enough said! Kay taught Angela the correct way to do a back round off and how to present to the judges. Her parents made dinner, appy's and even provided fireworks to round out the evening.

The evenings were spent with friends and enjoying great food, company and generally just hanging out. The kids got to see a bunch of old friends and they all are excited to move back and restart their school careers in the Hopkins school district. The final Sunday afternoon was spent with The Orvedahl's, sort of like how Madonna, BeyoncĂ©, J-Lo go by one name so goes The Orvedahl's,  a super fun high energy great family. The kids swam, we caught up with Doug & Jennifer who were celebrating their 21st wedding anniversary! In all the commotion and playing there usually comes a defining moment that sums up the whole day and while the kids were playing Hide and Seek, Sean snuck into the kitchen and grabbed a juice box out of the fridge, we asked him what they were doing and explained that while the rest of the kids were playing hide and seek he was sitting on the couch drinking his juice box playing hide and relax!

It was a great primer for the move home more to come...