Sunday, September 28, 2014

sports sports sports

A fall sports update...

Jimmy - football is not going so well, they are currently 0-4 :(  The team is infighting and they are having trouble following the coaches directions.  They also barely have enough kids for a team so they are constantly changing positions, which makes it hard to get a groove going.  This also means the other team just needs to outlast them as by the 4th quarter they are exhausted. Their last game was the best they played yet (and against Wayzata!!) and when I asked why - their response was ... well, we weren't fighting with each other...  Good life lessons. Unfortunately, rather than rising to the challenge, Jimmy wants to switch teams next year. We are hoping they get a win and a little mojo back so that he'll change his mind but... reasoning with 13 yr old boys doesn't get you very far.  Jimmy is playing wide receiver, offensive and defensive line and line backer. He's still extremely passionate and that lands him about 1-3 penalties a game. Thankfully he has some good friends on the team and I swear there is a posse of 13 yr old boys at our house non-stop. (Just waiting for the day that the girls start coming over too - he's pretty darn cute in his uniform and I'd suspect there are a  fair number of crushes on him at school) The season ends in a month and then it's 2 months until basketball starts. God help us...Jimmy doesn't do well when he's not actively in a team sport...   

Kay - gymnastics is going really well! She's in level 5 and that means 14 hours of practice/week plus an extra "private" session (about 16 hours total). Needless to say, she's ripped. The boys are all jealous of her 12 pack abs.   She is busy learning her new floor routine and beams, bars. Vault still poses a problem as she's too fast and too light and just goes flying without much control.  Her 1st meet is in November and then we have meets about every 3 weeks through until February. I suspect she'll do really well and I think she's ready to get back into competition. 

Billy - Taekwondo is a change. It turns out that every dojong has its own forms, style and areas of focus. In Toronto, it was all about pomsae (patterns) and sparring in order to get ready for competition. Here its more about old Korean technique, weapons, self defensive and competitions are few and far between.  BUT...this weekend, he did have a fun tournament. Of course he was nervous because he only have 2 weeks to practice his new patterns and get back into sparring shape (here you can punch and you couldn't in Toronto, so that's also new). He is really enjoying his coaches and donjong but its MUCH smaller than Toronto.  He did ok in the meet, 3rd place in both pomsae and sparring.  In pomsae, you can tell that he had a momentary brain fart and almost forgot what he was doing but them recovered. In sparring, he's a good 2-3 inches shorter than the other kids which means he has to kick harder and higher in order to get his points.  He put up a good show and it was good for him to get back into the swing of things but he also wished he had done better. I think there will be about 4 tournaments a year here (vs 8 in Toronto) and its a bit of be careful what you wish for...  If he does too well, he'll be invited to the traveling team. Not so bad you think,  travel around MN, right?  WRONG! Its a team that travels the US. Not sure I want him making that team or not:)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tom's Birthday!

Happy Birthday TOM!! Thank you for all you do - driving, cooking, cleaning, cheering on the kids in sports, organizing fun activities with friends/family, helping out at school, planning vacation and being a great father, friend and partner. Its a weeklong celebration:)

Last weekend we celebrated as a family with a bike ride up to dinner (tried to hit our favorite dive sports burger bar, Shullers, but go figure, they dont serve food on Sunday nights?!) and Tom had the BEST burger ever at Dolittles. Kay made a peanut butter cake with peanut butter frosting that was seriously to die for! It was a huge cake and all the neighbors got to enjoy it as well:)

Yesterday (actual birthday) He had lunch with his birthday buddy Wade (yep, they share a birthday) at the St Paul Grill. Fish and fries anyone?! Then, Kay made him dinner - herb lemon pork tenderloin with roast kale and garlic baby potatoes. She also intercepted the flowers that Tracy had sent and hid them under her bed so that they could be a surprsie when Tom got home from running the boys to/from music lessons. Way to go Kay!




  And, from what we hear, the kids were actually very nice all day and actually got along. Best present ever! This weekend we'll celebrate more with Wade and family with our new favorite gormet mexican meal - pork, heart of palm salad, safron rice, etc. Cheers to Tom - we love you, we bless you, we are blessed by you - you are amazing!!!! XXXOOO       

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Moving Home

Holy Cow - remind us not to move again for a long long time!! Or maybe its that we planned a vacation of a lifetime right in the middle of the whole thing, or maybe its just that we are a damn busy family.

Let us give you the break out ...

Movers/packers come 8/19-20 - man oh man, stay out of their way!! They'll wrap and pack anything in their sight: garbage, open food containers, sleeping dogs BUT...they are efficient. They had whole house packed in 6 hours (8/19) and loaded on the truck in 6 hours (8/20). You need to be present to answer questions, direct traffic and seriously make sure your lunch doesnt end up in a box somewhere. When we moved TO Canada, they packed a box of worms and dirt Kay had hidden under her bed - pretty darn gross box to unpack 2 weeks later.

8/20-21 - Cleaners, bring it on! We had the whole house cleaned, windows washed (inside and out) and carpets steam cleaned. Plus, good domestic hint, brown magic marker is really magic. Not only does it cover gray hair (Tracy's infamous trick) but it also helps fill in those irrating mini-scraps that kids/dogs gift to wood floors. The above all also means, we were moved into a hotel with 10 bags, 5 people, 1 car and 4 beds. We had to pack 3 sets of bags (vacation, work and 1st day of school) It was practically an engineering/math word problem exercise. Also, close quarters is all I'll say.

8/21-9/1 - VACATION!!! (see prior blog) since our truck was going to take at least a week to get to us in MN, why not go on vacation?! (dont ask us why its a 15 hour drive to MPLS but it takes the truck 7-10 days.....)

9/1-9/2 - After a quick stop back in Toronto to say a final MN goodbye to friends (dinner on Sunday and breakfast on Monday) we were off to the airport. We landed up in MPLS the evening of Labor Day (9/1), headed to our friends to pick up the back to school supply bags we had hid there and off to the hotel to get ready for the 1st day of school. Again, 10 bags (+ new back to school stuff from Target)< 5 people, 2 cars (1 rental) and 4 beds. We packed backpacks, sharpened pencils, laid out 1st day of school clothes, double checked school start times and teachers and then fell into bed exhausted but excited at 10pm

9/2-5 - And we are OFF!! Each of the kids are in classes with at least a few friends and started making new friends on day 1. Jimmy was invited to a bar mitzvah in homeroom (new friend Ari) and Billy has Jimmy's 4th grade teacher Ms Bell. Kay is just thrilled to be with Carmen in class and was seriously dolled up for Day 1. We also started them immediately into sports - Jimmy 4 days/week football plus piano, drums and is signed up for jazz band. Kay has 4 days/week gymnastics (4 hours a shot) and is being reintroduced to the concept of homework. Billy has 5 days/week of TaeKwonDo (loving his new dojong) and piano. It took a few days to get the driving schedule down, but its do-able. Tom is pretty much in the car from 4-8:15pm each day driving back and forth like a gurbil works out. Breakfast was in the hotel lobby, lunch from school and dinner at the nearest local establishment that catches our eye at 8:15pm at night. JJ's is high on our list (good sports bar). We ALSO decided to take advantage of having an empty house (keep in mind, we are still in a hotel at this point waiting for our truck to arrive) and have the entire inside of the house painted, yes, ceilings too. The kids picked their colors: Jimmy = light black which is really gray and unfortunately, he's not thrilled with how it turned out - fortunately, he doesnt really care Kay = turquois - yep bright bright blinding turquois Billy = light blue (he also doesnt really care)

9/5 - Our TRUCK ARRIVES!! - its like a maniac Christmas - they guys get it unloaded and unpacked (which means everything taken out of boxes and laid on the floor to be put away) in 6 hours (again) these people are incredible! At this point, the kids are so sick of hotels that they beg us to stay in the house that night. Tracy finishes making the last bed at 9pm and goal is achieved, 1st night in our new old house.

9/6-7 - Now the real work begins, unpacking, cleaning, hanging photos, organizing, etc... Oh, did I mention we also had our 1st 7th grade Hopkins football game (Jimmy) playdates (Billy Kay) welcome home party (neighbors are so sweet) furniture shopping (new kitchen bar stools and chairs for the hearth room) and baby shower (Jess our friend from India). Tracy got the last photo hung at 9pm Sunday night. We had managed to get the whole house unpacked and put away with the exception of the garages, office and laundry room can shut the door and ignore those. Plus those require a little extra time since you need to decide "where am I going to store these plastic easter eggs? This christmas decorations? these tools? the rollerblades?" Etc. (BTW - Tom is Mr Amazing and got this all done the next week!!!)

9/8 - School & sport starts again and Tracy start commuting to Toronto Mondays through Fridays. Despite the work, its been a really really easy transition back. They kids all have friends and love their teachers/coaches/teams. In fact, our house is the new "hang out" house. You can find any # of 13 yr old boys at our house any day of the week. Our friends are amazing "how did you become 'the house' in just 1 week?!" We have no idea but somebody is going to need to take on a 2nd job to feed all the 13 yr old boys coming through our front door. Man, they eat a lot!!

And...the kids have totally and completely adjusted. They miss their Toronto friends but are having so much fun with their MPLS friends. Talk about resilency and adaptabilty. I'm so impressed, they are our heros. Tom is right back in the middle of all the kids activities, their friends, our friends, his network. Tracy is getting used to commuting. I think its harder on her than the kids (in fact, once again, they dont seem phased in the least) we'll see how long that lasts:)

So, alls well that ends well:) Check out pictures of our new old house! Isnt it nice and cozy!?!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Holiday Road- Nova Scotia

The RV trip of the year has been in the works for the past 9 months or so. (and on Tracys bucket list since she was 8 and read Green Dolphin Street - favorite book ever!) The Millers and The Loudamericans have been tirelessly researching campgrounds, tourist destinations and the like all over the eastern Providence of Nova Scotia. The trip started off with a minor hiccup on the part of the Millers. The night before their flight it turned out that their kids passports were expired, but no problems for these cowboys, they were off to the Consulate rodeo first thing the following morning and by noon the passports in hand they were off to the airport. Other than that the trip was pretty much issue-free.

Wednesday we all arrived the Inn on the Lake, a quaint little rustic hotel near the RV office and we settled in for the night. Thursday morning started off with an awesome breakfast outside at our own gazebo, a very auspicious way for the trip to begin. Then it was off to RV orientation and parts unknown. The orientation was mainly focused on how to not get in an accident and how to cleaner the toilet, two very important aspects of RV rental. The RV community tends to involve finding places to dump your waste, both black and gray as well as filling your propane take at every opportunity, readiness is all. Tom and Wade "passed" the inspection, "Army Training Sir" we loaded the families aboard cranked up "Holiday Road" and headed off. The first day was the longest drive, which was about 7 hours complete with a stop for supplies, gas, dump the waste and propane,. We reached or first stop, The Fortress of Louisburg!

So just to set the stage and not repeat ourselves that days were pretty much the same, not in a bad way however. We would get up have breakfast, tour the local destinations, have lunch either in at the camp site or a cool local establishment, then if we were not staying a second night head off to the next location or create fabulous dinners made from local ingredients, start a camp fire, see the big and little dipper, laugh till it hurt... then go to bed.

The Fortress is obviously an old fort and the entire place was pretty cool. The kids got to see what a working fort would have been like, complete with school rooms, a jail and the changing of the guard (and GUNS and CANNONS:)). Seems all the forts we went to all had the obsession to shoot off old Muscat's and cannon's, which was loud and cool. From the fort we headed out to Cape Britton. The beaches were sandy and the water cold, but that didn't stop the kids in fact, a couple of them didn't even wait to pit their swimming suits on, just ran right on in! That night was another repeat :)

From there it was off to the ferry and the trip to Prince Edward Island, or PEI to the locals, and the home of a small red headed kid named Anne of Green Gables. The ferry was awesome and we were entertained by one of the local musicians and several Irish folk songs, he was pretty good. He kept asking for the crowd to sing along, and as Jimmy pointed out if you want people to sing a long with you, you should probably play songs they know, just sayin'! From the debarkation area it was off to Cavendish, and the local cuisine, Lobster, that's what I'm talking about  drawn and melted butter, claws, Cole slaw and ice cold beer, PEI!!!  Jimmy and Billy, along with Wyatt, went for the chicken fingers the rest of us with the exception of Kay enjoyed our lobster, Kay inhaled hers and I'm not sure she really tasted it!

We spent two days on the island enjoying the beaches and some of us wandered through the ground of Green Gables, a very picturesque area where the story of Anne of Green Gables was developed from. The area known as Lovers Lane, the Ghost Forrest and the house the 18 hole championship golf course, which was not in the original story get the picture. We headed off the island via the 15 mile bridge, fortunately for us it was a bluebird day it would have been a tough drive in a high wind, very cool bridge. We ended up in the Bay of Fundy, well not actually in the bay more like at the bay.

The area has tidal pools, rock formations, and you can even walk on the ocean floor, the kids had a blast, the parents too. We climbed down about 100 stars and walk on the ocean floor at low tide and listened to the docent explain the uniqueness of the area and the history, felt ocean aloe, played with seaweed and Kay found a hermit crab which she was busted trying to hide it in her pocket. The area has an abundance of fish mongers and we took advantage, fresh snapper, lobsters, crab, smoked mackerel, fresh veggies a cornucopia of fresh and yummy food, it was a good thing we had a Chef along simply delicious.

The tidal pools allowed us to experience white water type rafting, without the rock & helmets, soaking wet and big smiles. The next event was zip lining (not for everyone, Tracy, Jimmy and Tom sat out) Wyatt was all in until he did it once and passed his next two turns to Kay and Caden. Wade and Angela were also fans but Kay and Caden were the show stoppers. They both, at one point, were hanging upside down screaming in laughter, and super fun time! They say all good things must come to an end, but in our case they come to a pause. We dropped off the campervans and we headed into Halifax for part two of the trip.

Halifax has always been a major port city and to this day it continues that tradition. The Citadel, which was constructed here instead of Fort Louisburg, was created for one reason, defend the port. In the same vain and time period as Old Fort Louisburg, the Muscat's and cannon fire could be heard throughout our visit through the Citadel. We wandered through old cemeteries, strolled down along the Warf and ignited the sea lover in all off us, AYE ME HEARTIES! The legend states that a man by the name of Alexander Keith made his way from Germany to Halifax complete with his brewing papers, right after he invented, India Pale Ale. It turns out not only were most of the British Troops illiterate, at the time they were quite thirsty as well. Each member of the English Army and Navy were given a daily ration of 1 gallon of beer, enter Alexander Keith. He set his brewery up right at the end of the gangway, so each of those soldiers with their ration of beer ticket had to walk by his place first, the rest is history, so they say. It worked because no sooner had Tom & Wade past he brewery inside they went for a tour!

Saturday we headed out to see with a couple of salty dogs and their young side kick. The waves were a bit rough but did that stop these explores, no! We caught several cod and mackerel which the crew cooked up for lunch along with some really well done burgers and viola, surf and turf. We strolled around the little marina in search of carmel sea salt ice cream but had to settle for regular ole ice cream. Jimmy found a music store and played a bit of electric guitar before they kicked him out. (He was going through withdrawl not having drums, piano or guitar for almost 10 days)The kids had a pizza & movie party in the room while the adults headed out to the Wooden Monkey for an awesome meal! Fantastic food, fun and friendships were the mainstay of our RV trip and were are all blessed!!!

Just one PSA, if you ever get to Halifax late, from a long day journey and are hungry and the kids look out the window of your hotel and see a giant moose head hanging off an establishment called " The Laughing Moose" and say "Lets eat there", be warned it is not a restaurant it is a All Nude Girls Cabaret" , which once realized, Kay went running down the street yelling - ITS A STRIP CLUB ITS A STRIP CLUB... sigh... more to come....