Thursday, December 22, 2016

Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time!!

It was officially the best Christmas EVER (declared all the kids - especially Ian) and we haven't even gotten to the big part yet - Costa Rica with the whole family (grandma grandpa aunts uncle cousins sue). More on that later:)

Pictures tell the whole story....
Lamb Roast!

Xmas Eve Dinner 

Writing Santa a note

Snacks for Santa the reindeer and our note

Santa's response, he's right,we need more good people in the world right now

Santa came!

Holy Cow!

1st presents

Kay LOVED all her gifts especially all the makeup

Billy got a Virtual Reality and he's thrilled

Jimmy got some seriously cool jackets

Nikki even got some good chew bones

A box within a box within a box within a box... only Kay


Kay's haul

Jimmy chilling

Billys haul

Ian is loving Xmas

Dads gifts and new pjs


Jimmys Santa gift

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Early Christmas, Rogue One and the COLD!!!

Its been a super fun weekend, despite the cold.

Jim, Jen and Grace came over of  our traditional Christmas dinner. This year they brought Jim's famous lasagna and it WAS AMAZING!  Seriously, he makes the best lasagna ever which means its hard to order it at a restaurant or try to make it ourselves. It was a huge treat. And, Jen made a super yummy poached pear dessert with orange and chocolate sauce. Heaven!!

The kids proceeded to challenge each other to a "music-off" its started out with dueling pianos and progressed into the drums, guitar and violin.  Such a talented group (except Kay, Jimmy was heard saying ... you are doing great Kay, just play the right notes now).  Grace just made 1st chair in cello and Ian plans an hour a day on piano, so it was really fun.  Jim kept asking for a reprisal of Give Nikki a Steak but the kids refused to be detracted, they were going to play what they wanted to play.

Ian and Grace totally hit it off. They have all the same interests and talked all night. They like the same food, video games, Korean drama's, movies, etc.  So glad that they both had a good time.  Its hard to be 16.

Then, because of the drop in weather, we had a coat contest, I think Kay wins.

Finally, on Sunday, Tracy braved the cold to take 8 kids (Billy, Kay, Ian and 5 of Billy's friends) to Rogue One for Billys birthday party. It was totally worth it.  Pizza, candy, soda, popcorn and brownies.  Just in time to send all the boys home.  If you do watch, stay to the very end and dont take a bathroom break. There is a fun surprise right as the movie is ending.

All in all, despite the cold, a fun weekend:)

Kay wins


Rogue One

Jim Kay and Jen, present opening

Jimmy dressed up

Kay, Ian, Billy present opening

Placed pear dessert!


Ian kicked us off

Then Grace graced us

Jimmy quickly switched to drums and guitar

Billy soon took up guitar and violin

Kay playing the wrong 2 notes, over and over. She's got the good hair though.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Billy Balou Won Joon Shawny - Happy Birthday!

No matter what we call you, we love you!  Happy 12th birthday Bill!

This year was the year of the ....drum roll .... PHONE!

Billy is now an official part of society with his own Samsung 7 - its a serious kick ass phone.

He's already got it set up in his Otter Box and figuring out how to download his games.  He also got gift cards for more games, a watch and a Target gift card. I'd say the kid is set:)

It was a low key winter birthday for 'ol Bill. Outside sledding, video games and the Vikings game.  All topped off by a Greek feast and brownies. What could be better?!

Bill, you are sweet, kind, calm, funny, smart, generous, thoughtful, helpful and a total squirrel. You a amazing at taekwondo and are becoming a real leader.

We love you and are SO grateful for your birth parents, foster parents, social workers and everyone that brought you into our lives.

Hope your 12th year is the best ever!!

Monday, December 05, 2016

What's Been Going On?

Time seems to slip away when you have 4 kids running in several different direction along with life changing events and a professional football team that is tanking!

Jimmy and Tom were fortunate enough to get tickets to the Vikings game against the Cowboys. It was our first trip into the new stadium. The [place is really huge, and cool but not sure I see the $1.5 billion dollars it took to build the place. It is like any other stadium, big score boards and jumbo TV's, long lines and crazy fans.
It was fun to go with Jimmy as he thought it was the coolest place on earth! The game was great the Vikings actually ended their 5 game losing streak so we got to see the win. It was a nightmare to get out of the place and we had to walk about 1/2 mile to find a cab, however we did have a blast.

It is hard to believe that 13 years ago Kay came home! We celebrated her gotcha day in total Kay style with Fondu complete with chocolate fondu and strawberry's! She was in heaven. Kay continues to excel not only at gymnastics but in school as well. She keeps up her creative side with cooking and recently opening anew business called Kay's Slime Store. Yes she has a cottage industry she is running out of two drawers in the boys bathroom ( why take up space in hers) making custom to order slime. She has made a few teaser packets and has a couple of sales people working at the school- taking orders, so far we are still in the hole trying to recoup the initial investment but the forecast looks strong as the fiscal year winds down so we will see!
Kay we love you and we are blessed everyday that you chose us to be your forever family!

Thanksgiving was a super homey quiet day with lots of resting, relaxing and eating. I think this is the first time that we have made a traditional turkey, so smoking, deep frying, brining we just pulled out the roaster and off we went. Tom made a homemade stuffing, so just to be clear about dressing and stuffing, they are an identical dish the only difference is that it is called stuffing when out is inserted into he cavity of the bird and dressing when it is not. We also had Tracy's favorite side dish, cranberries from a can, mashed potato's, gravy, beans, and fresh tools. Wendy, Annamiek and Lucy made pumpkin and pecan pies and we all had a fantastic evening.

Tom had to be at the Mall of America the next day for a Gift of Adoption event
being that November is National Adoption Day his board had a special walk planed at the mall. There were several grant recipient families that came and we honored by the Gift of Adoption for making the lives of several children complete with a forever family! Kay and Ian came along more for the shopping than the event. Ian in true teenager fashion left to wander around by himself, Kay meanwhile was off and running looking for deals. She is a pretty good shopper, makes good selections and choices so it was fun. Tom and Kay made a pit stop at the new Tim Horton's for double doubles and tidbits all and all a great morning, we got out of the mall just as it was getting super packed and crazy.

For Tom's birthday Tracy gave him a day of Pheasant hunting with Terry, his dog scout and Mike G. The day was beautiful sunny, calm very little wind and our shooting skills were spot on. We had a round of trap then headed into the lodge for lunch which was venison chill and elk burgers, spectacular grub. Then off to the field where we proceed to knock down anything that flew. We put out 10 birds and we came back with 13! Great time, friends and fun. We are planning a pheasant gumbo meal after the holidays to celebrate the hunt!

We also had a brunch with Grandma and Grandpa, Brigid, Dennis, Stacia and Charlotte, Grandma wanted her picture with Jimmy, it was cute.

In addition we know have a 15 year old with a driving permit..more to come...

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Long time, no blog

So sorry for our radio silence, it has been crazier than ever around here and while its all good stuff, we can barely keep up. I'll give an update, by person so that its easier to track:)

Tom - started working full time (30 hrs/wk) at school and is loving it! He works before and after school care for the 3rd graders as well as lunch/recess. SO, he works 7:15-9:15 then 11:00-1:00 then 3:30 - 5:30 - he's playing lots of dodge ball ,medic, kickball and go to the head of the class. He loves his coworkers, the kids and has great stories to tell at dinner. He gets a work out in every day and helps with kid pick up.  Our roles have totally reversed with Tracy taking on all the after school snacks/driving. The kids are adjusting and Tracy is getting her fair share of the sites driving around Hopkins, Golden Valley and New Hope, over and over and over again.

Tracy - working full time and finding a job. She launched website, redid her resume, got business cards, has been networking and is now taking a few trainings (how to network, unconscious bias and a facilitator training for race discussions).  She's LOVING all the new people she's meeting and is really excited about this move. But, its crazy how much driving, coffee and lunches are involved.

Tracy/Tom - we paid off the house - yippee!!  Signed up for new health insurance, transferred Tracy's 4-01k, are dog sitting Lucy while Wendy/Annemiek are in New Zealand, booked tickets to Costa Rica for Christmas (yeah) and are getting ready for Thanksgiving, Billy's birthday and Xmas. 'Tis the season!!

Jimmy - Had basketball try outs and lets just say - politics are always involved. He did great in try outs, blocked shots, rebounded - even a 1/2 court buzzer shot but. .. he did not make the A team.  We knew it would be a challenge but what is shocking is that NONE of his teammates from last year made the A team. The A team has 6 8th graders on it and only 5 9th graders.  But, he's going to play B (reluctantly) and we think its a good life lesson, play because you enjoy it, not because you made the best team.  In his conferences, his teachers love him. He's polite, helpful, curious, a leader and a typical 15 yr old boy (a bit distracted and disruptive but not disrespectful) He's really gotten into making videos and the media center found him and now he's going to do the band trip and redo all their pride videos. He's thrilled! And, we think he has a girlfriend and her names Lauren, more to come.

Kay - Deep into gymnastics and loving it. Her grades are nice and stable and she's really committed to homework. Her conferences were fun - Kay always has a smile on her face, is nice to everyone, asks a ton of questions and is really engaged. She just needs to be more proactive on homework and details. Dont we all, dont we all. She's all about sleep overs and Christmas and already has her room decorated and Christmas music playing at all hours.

Billy - aka Mr Blackbelt is rolling along.  TKD is taking up even more of his time/attention and he loves it.  School is good, he's now reading at a 10th grade level and is very diligent in his homework. He thinks he talks to much in school but the teacher said its not an issue.  Again, he's nice to everyone and has been on a string of birthday parties, which is fun. He's really excited for his birthday - we are taking his friends to the new Star Wars moving. Good time.

Ian - he's doing well and is now going out for nordic skiing so we have another new sport to learn/support. He's doing great in school and I'm so impressed given English isn't his 1st language and he's reading really hard books in class (the Crucible!!) His friends are willing to try anything and last week when to the school musical and roller skating. Love how adventurous he is!

So, there you have it, thats why you haven't heard from us.  I promise an update after Sunday's Viking game (Tom and Jimmy have tickets) as well as Thanksgiving.

Now I'm going to go take a nap ......

Monday, October 31, 2016

HUGE milestones - time to celebrate!!

Two MAJOR happenings at the Loudamericans today ... We need to figure out how to celebrate ...

1) Tom started full time at the school. He'll be doing before/after school care along with his lunchroom/recess duties.  I'm so proud of him - its awesome that he'll continue to be a great male role model at the school. Plus its 1.5 miles away and he works with people he likes and respects. We love love love Hopkins school district so this is just perfect.  His hours are ok  (7:15-9:30 then 11:30-1:30 and 3:15 -5:30) but ... he gets benefits - this is HUGE!! I'll be taking on the post school kid sports taxi service (Kay is not happy about this as Tom tends to buy her treats that she knows I won't buy her) but it'll all work out plus this opens us up to my job search can take longer if needed and if I find a great job but it doesn't have benefits, we are still covered. LOVE Tom for doing this for our family.

2) We paid off our house!! We had 9 months left of payments and decided to just do it.  It was sort of anticlimactic. It took 15 min with the banker and was all done online.  We are official home owners.  Feels like a big step and another great place to be as I look for a new career/job switch.

All is good. Now we just need to figure out how to celebrate!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Kansas City or Bust!!

In an effort to show Ian as much of the midwest as we can, it was a road trip to Des Moines and Kansas City over the long MEA weekend.

We packed up the car and left promptly after school Wednesday night, headed for tacopacolipst in Des Moines, highly featured on Diners Drive Inns and Dives.  The kids were great in the car but lets just say dinner came with mixed reviews.  Tracy, Tom, Billy and Kay LOVED their meals.  Korean BBQ chicken on a waffle,  vegan sausage lettuces roles, hominy fries, spicy tomato soup and Korean bulgogi banh mi.  Jimmy and Ian were MUCH less impressed and we had to make a stop at Jimmy Johns on the way to the airport. Highlight thought?  BYOB  - nothing like bringing your own beer to a taco place on a college campus, ah, the memories.

Thursday we headed over to Drake University to wander around and check out their basketball facilities. As with all our trips, it included sneaking into the stadium and basketball arena but this time included some serious hoop time. Jimmy even made 4 of 5 half court shots. I'll have to figure out how to get them uploaded to the blog. Super fun.

Thursday afternoon we quickly ran out of things to do in Des Moines so headed to KC, but 1st a stop at Sonic. Kay complained the whole time that it wasn't DQ. Then the food came. She's a convert - so much so that we had to stop on the way home on Sunday AND she actually even apologize for pitching a fit.  Progress!

We got to KC in time to check out the mental hospital museum (otherwise known as the insane asylum) it is almost Halloween ...right?  It really wasn't as creepy as expected but, there were some interesting factoids about mental medical care around the turn of the century. Little known fact, KC is the haunted house capital of the US.  We couldn't convince ANYONE to go to one (fear of clowns, especially with the whole urban myth clown scare going on) so we thought this was the next best thing.

As we were driving to our hotel and past the Royals and Chiefs stadium, we had a major small world moment. Literally, Jimmys friend Jason posted a snapchat of the stadiums.  He was in town for a baseball tournament.  Crazy!!  We quickly called and made plans to connect since we were staying 10 min's away.

Friday we were off to see KC. The Crown Center, the money museum at the Fed and Country Club Plaza. It was a gorgeous sunny day in the 70's and we spend the day with our baseball friends and their kids. Everyone was in heaven.  We even saw mounted police.  Dinner that night was a meet up with the taekwondo team and BBQ!!!  we were in KC after all....

Saturday was the tournament and it was a long one.  But aren't they all.  Billy sparred "up" a weight class and each of these guys had at least 20 lbs on him. He lost his 1st match to the ultimate gold medal winner but kicked some serious butt in the second match, taking 3rd overall. He felt pretty good about his performance but admits he needs a better game plan for sparring bigger kids.  He's got all the right techniques and he's fast, but they are just bigger.  He'll get there, he's a great coachable kid. My favorite part ... after the match, he tracked down each kid he sparred against and congratulated them and shook their hands. Such a great sport.

Saturday night was an all you can eat chinese buffet (of course) and a whole bunch of pool time.

Sunday was a power drive back to MPLS while we listened to the Vikings game on the radio (brutal!!) as we were recapping the trip and had everyone share their favorite parts ... the verdict?  The pool, almost unanimously. Go figure.  You can take these kids anywhere, and we have, and their favorite part is still the pool. We should just rent a hotel room in town and save ourselves the hassle.

All in all, a good trip, fun family and friend time and we got to see a bit of the midwest.

Happy MEA!