Monday, November 30, 2015

Green Bay, football, Thanksgiving, THE PACKER GAME (football), pheasant hunting, football, Black Friday, football

Can you tell what we did this weekend by the title of this post? :)

Yep, our annual pilgrimage to Green Bay for Thanksgiving, visit with Aunt Sue and watch 4 days worth of football.

This year add an added bonus, tickets to the Packer/Bears game and the retiring of Favres jersey. Despite the miserable weather (wind, rain and 30's) and how terrible we played (we were beat by the BEARS?!!) it was a really cool game to be at. The whole stadium went nuts when Favre came out, his team mates were there and everyone had a tear in their eye when Bart Starr congratulated him. Very moving.  Jimmy and Tracy had a gas. Jimmy even commented during the 3rd quarter. Why are people leaving, the game isn't over?!

Thanksgiving itself was a bit of a non-event. Given the weather (cold/rain) the kids stayed in their pj's all day and played electronics while Jimmy/Sue watched every game on TV they could.  Dinner was take out pizza, a hotdog at the stadium and nachos after the game. Works for us!

Friday was our "day out".  Tom headed out to pheasant hunt with Carl, Johnny and Timmy while Tracy took Sue/the kids to Appleton for Black Friday shopping and some serious bounce time at XtremeAir (a trampoline park and loads of fun).  The crowds weren't too bad and we managed to steer clear of any major $$ damage. The trampoline park was fun to see the kids dunk, flip, twist, dodgeball and spar.  We were all very tired and sweaty when it was all over. Of course, we all met up at home and hit the traditional Wisconsin fish fry and salad bar for dinner. YUM!!

Saturday was another cold day of football football football. Jimmy/Sue had a bet on the MN/WI game and lets just say ...thank god Sue didn't call in her bet with Jimmy.  Tracy took the other 2 kids to the Y to swim. It was a major throwback Y - kiddy pool... diving board... the whole shebang.  They swam for 2 hours and had a blast.      Kay made a killer pavlova/pumpkin triffle for dessert and we had homemade wild rice soup and wedge salad.

Sunday we high tailed it home and listened to the Vikings game on the radio.  Despite their offense, they managed to win.  Then it was music practice, homework, wash, and some play time with the neighborhood kids.  It felt good to be home and be in our own beds but...

We always have such a great time with Sue in Green Bay. VERY relaxing.

Thank you Sue! We love you!!

Now, what we thought was a chest cough has developed ... poor Tom has pneumonia :(

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Gotcha Day Kay!!

Yesterday was the 12th Gotcha Day for Kay/us.  12 years ago, we traveled to Korea to bring back our fierce, fun, generous, funny, active, talented, outspoken daughter.

We celebrated with molten lava cake, macaroons and every shared their favorite thing about Kay.

Billy - that she plays with me when she has friends over. Its really fun.

Jimmy - that she makes food for my friends and I

Tom - that she is ALL IN on anything she does: playing, cooking, gymnastics, friends, gifts, Christmas, parties....

Tracy - that she is a fierce and determined athlete that is always trying to get better plus she's brave and fearless

Nikki - that she drops food accidently when cooking

Thought we'd share some Gotcha Day posts of day's gone by and say a big THANK YOU and WE LOVE YOU to all the people that made Kay ... Kay.

Her birth parents - that's for making the ultimate self sacrifice, we definitely are the benefactors of your love for Kay

Her foster parents - for your awesome sense of humor and such visible love for Kay - taking care of her until we were able to

Her social workers both in the US and Korea - for being vigilant in finding kids their forever family and home

Our friends and family - that's for being their for us and for Kay, when she was a tiny pudgy 4 month old baby all the way to a green haired pre-teen.

Most of all ... we love YOU KAY!!!! XXX OOOOO

Monday, November 23, 2015

Heidel House girls weekend

Since Wade had a deer hunting weekend a few weeks back and Tom had a pheasant hunting weekend scheduled (which was unfortunately canceled but then rescheduled for the day after Thanksgiving), Angela and I decided a bit of a girls weekend was in store.

We were originally planning to meet our long lost friend Radha in California but ... work schedules, airline flight times and the time zone difference got in our way.  So, we had to settle for 2nd best, just the 2 of us in Wisconsin.

It was a perfectly relaxing weekend.

Angela worked Friday morning and I took my time getting up, getting the kids ready for school, walking the dog, etc. We headed out a bit after lunch for Green Lake Wi, home of Heidel House and a small town spa weekend that included wine, people magazines and the great outdoors.

The drive was easy and uneventful and it is interesting how you can tell you are in Wisconsin almost immediately, there is something different about their small towns. Not sure if its the Leinenkugels signs, the friday night fish fry advertising or just the amount of packer gear you see people wearing but I immediately felt at home.

Green Lake is a gorgeous area, its  huge lake with really prosperous summer homes and a friendly walkable small town.  In fact, we struggled to figure out the main industry and where all the $$ was coming from.  We thinks its Chicago mob money. Seriously, some of the houses qualify as manisions, every 3rd house is for sale and it looked like the town was only 1/2 occupied.

Heidel House is a long standing Wisconsin establishment, its got a resort will all the amenities, including a state of the art spa (which was - again - packed ...odd).  In fact, my mom has a cook book from here that probably is almost as old as I am.  The lake is gorgeous, the rooms, comfortable and the staff awesome.

Of course, the 1st thing on our agenda was fish fry and we hit Nortons, the best supper club in town. Nothing like a good supper club overlooking the lake on a Friday night. The Heidel House had a shuttle we could schedule so we didn't even need to drive!  Dinner was fab and then it was back to the hotel for a movie. Our 1st thoughts were Sixteen Candles, Heathers or Say Anything but of course, I forgot to pack them. Ang had other ideas and wanted to see Amy. I was game. That is, until...we realized we were drinking red wine and watching a documentary about a bulimic alcoholic drug addict. Sort of took all the fun of drinking red wine out of it. In actuality, it is a really good movie about Amy Winehouse, but it does make you realize just how little (no) support she had for her personal wellbeing, everyone was out to make money off of her. Including her family. super sad.

Saturday we were determined to have a more upbeat day/night. We spent the day walking around Green Lake, checking out the artisian market, the big houses and lake front.  I found Tom/I retirement plan - a liquor store/bait shop with a 24/7 bait vending machine in front of it in case you cant be bothered to come to work because you are out fishing.     Lunch was beer cheese soup and bloody mary with a beer chaser and then it was off to the spa. We had the full treatment and the steam room/ salt water hot tub were glorious!

but ... this was all leading up to the BIG plans....  Deer Widow's Bingo at the town hall 6:30-8:30pm  Yep, we bought our 6 cards and we were all in. In fact, Ang also played $20 of 50/50. we got our sutter home red wine and miller lite and settled in for a big night of winnings with ~ 50 of the locals. Shockingly, we didn't win a damn thing. not even the raffle ticket wine they were handing out. Again, I think it was rigged. It was fun though and the highlight was group of kids (sisters) that came dressed as a hunting widow, deer and hunter. Very cute.

We then hit up the other supper club in town for the soup/salad bar and cheese curds (remember this is Wisconsin) and had a really fun chat with Carol, our waitress. We were in for dinner at 8:30 and I think she was disappointed because they were getting ready to close up. Then, to ruin all her fun, another couple came in as we were finishing at 9:15. Poor Carol. At least she had the 5 regulars at the bar to keep her company.  (you know its a good restaurant when you ask for a red wine and they don't even ask you what kind because they only have 1 kind)   

We headed back to the hotel determined to watch something more upbeat but got sidetracked by the fancy piano bar in the lobby that served chocolate-tini's and had a live pianist. He was really good and the crowd was very appreciative. He even did Charlie Browns Christmas to get us all in the holiday mood.

We packed it up , called it a night and were up bright and early the next day for a quick pre-drive workout.  I made it home in time to see the Pack whoop the Vikings and drive Jimmy more than a little crazy.

All in all, the perfectly timed get away with my bestie.

Thanks Ang! (and thanks Tom/Wade for letting us go!!!)                   

The Winners

Damn cards

Sunday, November 15, 2015

crazy weekend

This weekend was a variation of the same ... we hosted a party, Kay had a sleep over, Billy had TKD,  Jimmy hung out with his friends and Tom was on TV... wait - what?!.

The difference?

PARTY  - yes, we normally DO have people over for dinner but this was different and special.  We had a going away party for our friend Pam. We lived with her in India and she was part of the US team that supported Canada. She is the ONLY known person to attend our St Patricks Day party in 3 different countries. Unfortunately, as part of Canada, she was laid off and her last week was in October. That didn't stop her, she took a 2 week road trip to the east coast of Canada, 3 week vacation in Bali, sold her house and is moving "south" to be closer to her family as she job hunts.  Her 1st choices are Charleston, Atlanta and Raleigh.   It was a fun mix of people and Tracy's goal was to get rid of all the booze that was left at the house from Michael/Brians going away. It (amost) worked.  We got rid of vodka, rum, scotch, goldslager, crème de casis, triple sec, kahula, vermouth, 1 bottle of crème de menthe (we still have 1 left) and some cherry flavored Italian liquor. we ar eleft with only 6 bottles, 1/3 of mango rum (super good with tonic and lime) crème de menthe, vermouth, picso, scotch and something I have no idea what it is... success!

Wait, Tom, on TV?!  Yes!! He and Jim were on Kare11. Jim was promoting Itty Bitty Soul for Nat'l Adoption month and fro every book he sells, he's giving a dollar to Gift of Adoption. Enter Tom. Tom is on the board for Gift of Adoption so ... they were jointly interviewed by Rena. Check it out. They were awesome and Tom is damn cute if I say so myself....

Ok, Kay's 'sleep over' - it was actually a Hunger Games competition at a local nature preserve. They had the reckoning at   6:05pm, were placed into teams and had challenges on the hour that night and the next morning, including a middle of the night surprise challenge. The team with the most points would be announced at the victory lunch. Breakfast was  in a backpack at the cornucopia and the girls had a BLAST!     Challenges included archery (Kay rocked it) starting a fire (which you then had to use those skills to light the stove in your cabin, no electricity, no heat) shelter building (Kay's specialty) ropes/knot tying, cooking with edible bugs and plants, navigation and a relay race.  Seriously kick ass weekend for Kay and her chaperone said Kay was the natural leader, calm, level headed, smart, logical and focused. There was even a costume competition at the end and Kay did everyones makeup. Thats our Kay!

Billy and TKD - Normally he has practice but this was the 1st weekend that the demo team actually got to go out and demo!  They were the 1/2 time show at the regional wrestling 'tournament'. If you are envisioning low grade, WWE, fake wrestling, then yep- you are visualizing correctly. Think of this as the minor league with everyone gunning for the big time. The kids (& some parents) were in a bit of awe (scared?) by the actual show but our kids stole the whole event with their TKD demonstrate.  They were proud, had fun and were great. Wish I had a video to post, once we get our hand on one we'll share.   
Jimmy really did have a normal weekend.  He bypassed a sleep over with his besties on Friday night  because he wanted to get his homework done Sat morning. SO THAT .. he could watch the golpher and Vikings games without guilt or pressure of homework. He cheered himself horse and had a great time hanging with his peeps
Plus, added bonus, I got 2 - yes 2 - bike rides in on my cruiser bike. Who knew that it'd be 60 degrees in November. It was lovely
We are exhausted.   Again....
Life is good. 

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Weekend update

Another crazy busy but fun weekend for the LoudAmericans...

1st up - date night at the Adoption Option Gala.  Adoption Option Council of MN (AOCM) is a non profit who's goal is to educate on modern adoption. Tracy joined the board in June, just in time for all the craziness of gala planning.  While AOCM is 32 years old, this is only the 2nd gala. We are growing so fast in our support of education that we need more funds than the seed money the 4 founding mothers left us. It was nerve wracking coming into the event. The venue holds 250 and with 1 week to go, we only had 125 people signed up.  It was also deer opener this weekend and it put a MAJOR crimp in our plans.  But, in the end we had 200+ people, the room was packed and all but 1 of the auction items sold. I consider that a success!! Also, our very best friends joined us. It was so great to share some thing that means so much to us with the people we love like family. They bid like crazy, all went home with something .... Plus, they are dang cute...

Kay had a sleep over birthday party and was off to cheer on her team at a gymnastics tournament in Roseville.  She's level 7 and these are the level 6 girls she practices with 4 days a week. Its super fun to see them support each other but I imagine she's going to be a tired mess by the time she gets home tonight.  She did do her homework though so .. who am I to stop her?!

Billy had TKD practice. They are doing the 1/2 time show at an upcoming high school (Hopkins) hockey game and are going to be on TV so ... the pressure is on to look good!  Saturday afternoon 3 hour practices from here on out!  This was followed by a late afternoon playdate at Owen's that turned into dinner and ghost in the grave yard until 9:30pm.

Jimmy had his 1st basketball tournament in Chaska. They won their 1st game (Sat night 6:30) handily against Wayzata 64-21.  Jimmy had a 3 point shot and a lay up plus 3 fouls. We celebrated with burgers at JJ's and watching the Gopher game until we were too depressed to watch any more.  Sunday morning brought a tough tight win at 9:10 am - they won my 1 pt and did not look good.  Seth got an elbow to the face and a bloody nose and another of our kids is out is an ice pack on his knee. This on top of 1 player having to sit out due to a broken finger from Monday's practice.  Part of the issue was they had 0 warm up time and got on the court cold. 
By their 11:30 game, they were warmed up, looking good but ... damn, just couldn't pull out a win. It was back and forth the whole game.  Mid way through the game, our player and a competitive player knocked heads and split our players head wide open.

Blood everywhere and he's off to get stiches. (Yes, basketball is a combat sport) So, now we are down to only 7 kids, only giving us 2 to sub in.  They are getting tired and starting to foul. By the end of the 2nd 1/2 every one the kids was at the max # of fouls which means, any additional fouls are automatic free throws by the other team.

AND ...they were good at free  throws. As we tell Jimmy, free throws wins games and the other team did win by 10. Bummer because we could have won if we even had just 1 more kid to sub in and give the kids a break.  Oh well, 4:30 game up next!  This was the final game for 3rd place and bragging rights. It was against Benilde (Tom's alma mater) and we had 6 kids to their 10 due to injuries.  They played their hearts out and pulled out a victory 57-53. It was a bit nerve racking as the ump seemed to have it in for Hopkins but ... fouls were going both ways. It was a really physical game. In fact, as we always say ... free throws win games and in this case that's definitely true, we won on our free throw ability - yes!!
 injured team (knee, broken finger, stiches) 

On top of all this, Lucy (Wendy and AM's collie) spent the night with us. Wendy surprised AM with a trip to Bemidji to see Prairie Home Companion. They said it was a great, fast trip.   Lucy is a doll and Billy (aka the dog whisperer) was in heaven. Actually they were all in heaven.

My kids and dog have it MADE!!! I want to be them...     

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Happy Hadaween!! (as Jimmy used to say...)

Of course, Jimmy is way too cool for Halloween but, he managed to have a great night and be totally enthralled with the Gopher game. He spent all day trying to convince us to pay $50/ticket so that he could go to the game, with a friend and without adult supervision. We were actually considering it if he could have found tickets for closer to $20 but alas, no dice. Turned out that was a smart move. He had his posse over for pizza and the game. Of course, even though most of them were on Jimmys football team, their attention span for actually watching the game is about 0.  They all left at the half to move the party to Miles house (including a sleep over). Jimmy hung back to watch the game with us and it was fun to have him all to ourselves. Bummer on the final few plays though. Tough loss.

Billy and Kay, however, were all in.  Kay was a turquoise unicorn and Billy the grim reaper. The both hit the same pre-trick or treating pizza party and then headed out and in their separate ways to get the goods.

Kay went around with Cameron (who later stayed for a sleep over) and Billy with Cole.

It was the 1st year we didn't need to supervise (ie walk around)  the kids so we built a bon fire, poured a glass of wine, had a bowl of homemade squash soup in a bread bowl and watched game. Kevin and Henry came over and brough s'more stuff and it was a really relaxing and fun night.

Happy Hadoween!!!

Oh and Jim went as a turquoise unicorn too and then went to yoga....