Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Football banquet and TKD tournament

This last weekend, Jimmy passed from football into basketball, a truer change of seasons than the changes of leaves or the 1st signs of fall. BUT ...before you can do that, you need to celebrate the season.  The 8th grade Hopkins football team had their team party and it was hysterical. In true banquet form there was food, cake and speeches. The captains did a great job of honoring the  coaches and Jimmy was the emcee (you can see where this is going).  Each captain talked about one of the coaches.  It was hard to pick who to talk about because they are all amazing dads/coaches. 

John has been coaching for 8 years and this will be his last year since been is off to high school football next year. John is calm, fun and a great teacher.  He's been such a great influence on Jimmy and he/Ben are the reason Jimmy LOVES football and the Vikings (they introduced Jimmy to the sport when he was 7 and we had just returned from India).
Jim has also coached many of these year and lets just say - he's passionate. He does tend to be the coach that has "words" with the referees and will go down in infamy for actually getting kicked out of a game this year (which the boys used heartily in their roast speech).

Doug has been there through thick and thin as well coaching along with Jon, Jim, Dave and Bob. James, Doug's son was also on everyone of Jimmy's team and would always look to Jimmy for the score, or to find out if we were on offense or defense :).  Doug was mild mannered however he was always aware where the refs made a mistake and quick to let he boys know that we can only control what we can control and the ref's are not one of those things.

Bob was a new coach for Jimmy this year but he's also been coaching for years and years, his oldest in on the high school team.  Jimmy chose to honor Bob and had the crowd in hysterics.  He said "I relate to Bob player to coach, Asian to Asian and football fan to football fan. I admire that he always goes for it, whether 4th and 1 or 4th and 1,000.  He's the best Asian coach named Bob that I know"

The coaches also each said something about the boys and of course John covered Jimmy.  "Passionate, intense, impactful, supportive of his team mates and a beast on the field" Jimmy basically glowed the whole time.

We are so lucky that Jimmy has had great teams and great coaches, regardless of their win records. Cant wait for 9th grade football next year!!

Billy had his 1st TKD tournament this weekend as a newly minted red belt. He competed in sparring and pomsea (patterns) and took 2nd and 3rd respectively.  Not bad considering he's only been a red belt about 2 weeks!

But...the best part of the whole day was ... Billy got to coach Ace in his sparring.  As background, when 2 competitors are from the same organization (WTA in this case), their head coaches aren't allowed to coach them during their sparring event. This responsibility then falls to the highest ranked belt in each studio. This tournament, that was Billy. It was so damn cute.  AND .. he really does know what he's doing.  The coaches sit on a chair during the event and shout instructions to the sparer. There are 2 one minute rounds with a 1 minute break in between.    Billy was shouting great advice and during the 1 minute break said ... ok Ace, here's what you have to do, we have to change it up. He's expecting you to come out with the same kicks you've been doing, let's go for something different". Then he proceeded to break down what he thought Ace needed to differently to win.  With a hearty back slap and encouragement, Ace was back in the ring and won his match! This meant he was off to compete for 1st and Billy had another coaching opportunity. He came in 2nd overall. Billy's  coaches said he really knows what he's doing and made a great coach.  When I asked Billy how he liked his 1st coaching experience, he corrected me "it was actually my 2nd coaching experience mom - Ace had 2 matches today ..." I stand corrected

The kid sure does love TKD and has great coaches and besties. We are so lucky are kids are active and supported in what they love.
 Ace Esa and Billy - best TKD friends, fierce competitors and all around great kids

Billy coaching Ace on his sparring as his coach looks on (Mr Lemon in the blue )

 Bronze for pomsea

 Silver in sparring

Sunday, October 25, 2015

MEA - hurray for a long weekend in the woods

One of the wonderful things about the Minnesota school system is MEA. Is a long 4 day weekend in October where the teachers have conferences but the kids/parents are free of school, homework and sports. Its good timing since the 1st 6 weeks of school are intense with getting back into a schedule, re-learning to learn and making new friends. Everyone needs a break. 
This year we headed up to the Gunflint Trail - Bearskin Lodge.   I was tempted to have this post ONLY be pictures because the are so amazing and really tell the story but ... figured you need a bit of a backdrop.
We coordinated our trip with the Pettersetters.  Krisin is Tracy's good dog walking friend, Anders is Jimmys best friend, Tom/Craig are mellow hang out breathren and Kay/Bill/Bjorn are die hard Hunger Games fans .. .not the movie, mind you, but the neighborhood hide/seek, nerf, survival game they created.   Bjorn also brought along his friend Brandon and we let Kay bring her gymnastics friend Nora - figured she shouldn't be out numbered by boys but ...that's really never stopped her.
Its a 5+ hour drive and we arrived in time for lunch in Grand Marais, the last stop before no gas, internet, wifi, cell service or groceries.  Lunch was a diner affair followed by the worlds best donuts - yep, that the name of the shop and they are that good.  Kay/Nora proceeded to do handsprings, ariels and flips down the street, we should have put out a hat for $$$.  And, it was a precursor for the majority of their activity the rest of the weekend. 
The lodge itself as nice and casual. about a mile from the boundary waters and 3 from Canada. We felt right at home.  It was Very north woods with a dock for each cabin, canoes, fireplaces, a fire pit and hiking trails right out our front door.  We hiked everyday, canoed and even tried to catch some fish on the pontoon. It was COLD!  On our best/longest hike, we were basically hiking through a dusting of snow the whole way. The views - lakes, streams, cliffs, forest - we amazing and we never ran into other people.  Hmmm...wonder that's because we had 4 adults and 7 kids, we were not a quiet bunch.
At night we had potluck dinners followed by a fire, card games (solitaire, exploding kittens, 31 and UNO) as well as dice games (Yatzee and Farkle). 
It was an incredibly relaxing and fun weekend.  make you want to move up there permanently.... 
 The lodge

 Our 1st hike of the weekend

 overlook on lake

 the boundary waters

 Even Jimmy enjoyed hiking and went with us every day

 Our lake view from our lodge dock

 Our floating dock

 Kay and Nora

 At Gunflint lodge, the start of our 2nd hike

 Hmmm ... I'm sure I could do that too

  The snow on our hike

  On a ledge at the top of a cliff - makes me nervous

 and nervouser 

 Having too much fun

 Serious contemplation


 Happy Kids

 Why not? Cant you do this?

 Even more nervous at the VERY top of the hike - yes those are tops or trees at her feet

 finally, someone playing it safe

 by a pokeman rock 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Football Grade 3-- 8 WOW

Where passion meets the turf...
Jimmy started his football career in the 3rd grade as a black stripe, all in kind of kid and he ended his HFL career as an all in 6" tall 160 pound force on the field both offense and most definitely defense.

Jimmy was by far the most engaged, alert and demanding kid on the field. He was not the fastest, but he knew where every play was for 6 years, poured his heart and soul into the game and he loved it!! He played in two countries and for two different teams and was totally into it. His team won the city tournament in Toronto the first year we were there and then came in second the second year.

Jimmy was the kid that ALWAYS knew the score and led the team in the pre and post game cheer (who who who - who are we? HOPKINS!  who are we? HOPKINS! Go.....Hopkins!)  He cried when they lost and there were MANY a day in 3rd, 4th and 6th grade football where we couldn't get him out of the car after a loss. We'd have to have the coach call and talk him off the proverbial ledge. But, he was also the kid that encouraged his team mates, told them 'good job' and 'its ok'.  He was voted one of the team captains this year and he was thrilled with his leadership role, especially the responsibility of talking to the refs on behalf of the team. Lets just say that didn't always go in his direction but he wasn't afraid to state his point of view (an understatement).

He's been lucky enough to play with the same kids/coaches for most of that time and they have all been class acts.  Fun, learning  and family was always 1st on the agenda and then, if they worked hard, they won. His coaches are remarkable, giving up personal time, year after year to encourage kids, teach them the science of football and spark the passion in the game.

Cant wait to see what is in store for us in 9th grade football next year.  Go Hopkins!!   

Monday, October 05, 2015

Billy is a red belt!! and other weekend accomplishments....

Saturday was taekwondo day - there was a cancer fundraiser (A Million Kicks for Cancer), the school carnival and belt testing. The weather was gorgeous and not only did Billy have a blast, he did great too!

The Million Kicks for Cancer is a fundraiser where the kicks get pledged to kick cancers butt - our donjong raised over $4,000 which means that Mr Lemon needs to shave his head and dye his eyebrows purple. Should be interesting.  Then, everyone gathers and "kicks" until the group reaches a million kicks. It was an especially touching year as we celebrated that Mr Lemon kicked cancers butt this summer. In May, at age 19, he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. He weathered surgery and radiation and now has a clean bill of health.

The carnival was exactly what you would expect, dunk tanks, food trucks, penny games and silly prizes.  Kid heaven.

Billy was having fun but getting progressively more nervous about his belt test later that day.  He finally went into the dojong and started warming up.  He was testing with his buddies Grace and Esa and they were amazing!  They did conditioning, patterns, kicks  and board breaking (flying side kick over a poor yellow belt student)  He mastered it all and is now a red belt. Next up, black tip and then black belt. At his current rate he'll be a black belt by next years carnival!

The weekend also included dinner with Des/Greg at Busters on 28 (highly recommended - amazing chips and burgers) a Twins game (Jimmy, Tom, Jim Fellows, Anders, James, Doug at a terrible game but a gorgeous day), Jimmy's football game (he played great but they lost -'nuf said), gymnastics, hunger games in the neighborhood and ... a going away party for Michael and Brian. Pam was hosting at our house and since she's moving as well, we somehow ended up with  20+ bottles of 2/3 full liquor - not sure if this was a gift or a curse.  We ended the night with a perfect fall night and bonfire.

All is good....