Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Despite a temp of -3 and a windchill of -20, Christmas came. It came just the same.
Santa was extremely generous, even if Tracy and I had a bit of trepidation. The kids are at that tricky age where they dont really "want" anything and anything they DO want is super expensive. But, they still like opening gifts. Plus, they want to sleep in vs be up at the crack of dawn. (They negotiated a 10am wake up, but. ..Kay did succumb and was up at 9:30, chatty Kathy). In fact, last night was the 1st time they didnt write a letter to Santa. Sort of bitter sweet. However, Santa did prevail!

1st up, the stockings ...  this years treasures were a fork, ear buds, favorite gum, Swiss Chalet sauce, favorite candy, pop its and a candle.  Santa note acknowledge that its hard as they get older but that Santa still believes in them....

2nd, presents.  This year, Tracy and I decided to gift each other new bath matts, bath towels, napkins, a table cloth and new dishes (hence the forks in the stockings).  We wrapped them all up and had the kids (mainly Jimmy) open them. He was a good sport and now feels like he'll be ready to move out when he graduates in 3 years.

Kay had a banner year and is thrilled with all her gifts (no sign of the major break down from last year). A new instant printer for photos, sports bras, a robe, Adidas sweatshirt, dip fryer and - the big kahuna - a new iPhone from Santa. Yikes.

Billy didnt have much on his list but he got it all and is thrilled.  It was a gaming themed Xmas, 2 new controllers, a controller charging station, video game, back up memory and gift card.  He's loaded for bear.

Jimmy was our tough one and worry. The only thing he wanted was a MacBook Pro that he can run Final Cut on (video editing software). These are $2k+ new and we werent in the market for that. We did explore refurbished and he gave us a list of required specs. After calling Device PitStop on a daily basis, Tracy did manage to find one that met all this requirement and was in our price range - It was supposed to come in on Friday but was delayed until after Xmas with all the Xmas shipping. We got a box and printed off the specs and wrapped it up.  We also had him open the other gifts (see above) and saved that for last.  He has major mixed emotions and 1st world problems. He's excited that he got what he wanted but he's really crabby that its coming in while we are in Michigan.  He'll be fine, a good life lesson.  He can't use it when we are at our cousins in any case and waiting a week won't kill him. Still feel bad for him though. Its hard to be 16.

Tracy and I love all our new refreshed home items and can't wait to use them when we get back from Michigan. Plus I got 2 new books and new cookbook.  Tracy got new Packer gear and bike shorts, along with jewelry and face masks (courtesy of Kay).

All in all, we are blessed beyond belief.  We have all we need, are able to afford some of the things we want, are healthy, and loved and will be with my family today and Tracy's family the rest of the week. Doesnt get any better then this.  Love and Peace to ALL!! 

The stockings were stuffed and could no longer be hung...

Sunny, cold day!

Reading Santas note, the handwriting is eerily similar to Tracys

More Stockings plus bags for Michigan in the background

Billy's stocking haul

Getting ready for the 1st git



New Dishes!

The MacBook!

New Phone

New Shorts!

Friday, December 08, 2017

Tis the Season (for kids events, that is...)

The last 10 have brought the typical December craziness of band concerts, orchestra concerts, taekwondo belt testing practice and gymnastic meets.  It feels like EVERYTHING happens in December and, while fun, its exhausting.

Up 1st - Billy's orchestra concert.  Unfortunately, Tracy had a work event that night (a Christmas choir concert with her organization glee club - super fun) so Tom was the lone parent.  It was a combined 7, 8 and 9th grade concert and Billy even brought his violin home to practice! This was the 1st time ALL YEAR that we've actually seen said violin so it was nice to know it exists. His group played 3 songs and did a lovely job.  Its always hard to see Billy because of height issues, but he seemed happy with this performance and he got to sit by his friends. What more can you ask for? Oh yeah, how about a trip to Chicago? Yep, the orchestra takes ALL kids, grades 7 and up to Chicago for a 5 day concert tour trip in May. He's super excited and we dont blame him!  Almost makes me wish I was in orchestra (almost).

And, coming in 2nd ... Jimmy had a band concert the same night Kay had her 1st gymnastics meet. Luckily they were both at the high school and "all" we had to do was run back and forth between the gym and auditorium.  Kay's started at 6pm and Jimmys at 6:30pm so it was almost do-able. We only had to miss 1 of Jimmys songs. There were a few interesting points in Jimmys concert. A) His band teacher didnt talk NEARLY as much between songs as he usually does, so it went pretty fast. B) most of our friends with kids in band were talking about how band this year seems really "easy" and all the kids are complaining that the music isnt hard enough.  Interesting... C) Jimmy's sax broke after the 1st song so he "faked" it, with facial expressions, fingering and movement.  I have to say, I was convinced he was playing. The band played 5 songs and were done in 25 minutes. Bravo!  Jimmy is considering this year his "test" year.  He is also playing the jazz band and the teacher knows that he can play drums and sax. But, in practice this week, another kid wanted to play drums so Jimmy said, "ok, then I'll play guitar". The teacher was floored - "you play guitar too?"  Yep.  Needless to say, he is now teachers pet. He figures he just needs to be consistently good and he'll be in the top try out band next year, at which point the music should get harder and he should be in with the other kids that are complaining about the music being too easy this year.  On top of that, he's thinking of going out for choir next year too. All these music groups go on concert tours so I also suspect the travel is intriguing a motivating factor. We dont care as along as he loves it and participates and gets better.  Wish I was 1/2 as talented.

Kay's meet was interesting.  We haven't posted too much about her decision to move from club gymnastics to high school but lets just say, its been a study in decision making and trade offs. On one hand, she wants to get better. On the other, she doesnt want the pressure of club and is tired of working so hard.  She was convinced that she could join high school, have fun and still get better. After the 2nd practice she came home and said "now I know why high school isnt as good as club. They dont have the same level of quality equipment, coaching and spotting".  Good observation.  Next, competitions. ... She gets majorly stressed out about competing and we are a bit worried since, with club, she only has 5-6 meets/year. In high school, its 16 meets.  Wednesday night, she was a mess.  Crabby, short and we were seriously worried about how much sleep she got.  But, she was up and ready to go early on Thursday.  She seemed to have fun at the meet and the vibe was definitely MUCH more relaxed than a club meet.  She took 2nd on bars and 3rd on beam (against Eden Prairie) and no one else on her team even placed. She fell off beam on her front aerial (which is damn scary) and looked a bit nervous on all events. BUT ... they were new routines with a new team a new coach and in a new competition format so we think she did great, given all that. Plus, now the 1st meet is behind her and she knows what to expect. We suspect she'll nail it in the next meet (next Friday). On the way home she said "our varsity team really isnt very good'.  Not sure what this means for her interest in continuing with High School past this year, if she'll go back to club or stick with High School. We just want her in gymnastics and to find a way to have fun but also deal with her stress/anxiety.   Wish us luck.

Check out the photos we got, not all are great but when you are moving a million miles per hour, its the best we can do:)

Her club teammates - friends for life

Team introductions

can you see Jimmys hair?

Warming up

Club BFF watching to support with club mom BFF

shaking out the nerves but looking cute and fit

The team!  2 are also from club and 1/2 from north jr high

Monday, November 27, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Gotcha Day Kay!

In one of those rare occurrences, Kays' Gotcha Day fell exactly on Thanksgiving and she took full advantage of the holiday and extra family around.

Tracy's sister (Tammy) and family make the trek from Michigan and arrived in time for dinner on Wednesday. Aunt Sue timed her trip perfectly as well and joined us in time for the 1st night of festivities!  We got unpacked, caught up and had a great time as Jimmy, Kay and Billy made their way home from sports practices.  Tom had smoked a pork and the BBQ pork sandwiches were amazing. The kids were SO excited to see their cousins and start their 4 day sleep over. Georgia was in Kay's room, Herbie and Joey in Billy's room, Sue in the guest room, Tammy and Jeff in Jimmy's room and Jimmy on the couch downstairs, everyone with a place and everyone in a place.

The 1st order of business was betting on the Viking/Lion game followed by a vigorous debate on if the MN/WI game was worth betting on (it wasnt).  With 2 Lions fans, 4 Packer fans and 2 Vikings fans, we had the weekend covered!  Throw in Michigan, Clemson, MN and WI fans and it was all football all the time.

Thursday was planned around the game and Kay's Gotcha Day. As tradition dictates, you get to choose your dessert on your Gotcha Day.  Well, being a baker, Kay chose to make 4 different kinds of  pies; apple crumble, apple pie, pecan and pumpkin. It was quite the feat.  Once the Vikings won (in a nail biter finish and a VERY loud house) we sent the kids outside to run off some steam and the 1st of many backyard football games with Jimmy as all time quarterback and Joey vs Billy and Herbie.  Tracy got seriously sick with a head cold/fever and was down for the count.  She hasn't gotten that sick in 10 years and it took us all by surprise. She rallied for dinner and a hazy recollection of football.

Friday was meant to be a volunteer project for the family through Tracy's work, unfortunately, none of the clients showed up:(  BUT...the kids werent deterred. they had contests on the in ground trampoline and climbing racings on the swing set.  These kids are nothing if not competitive. We forgot to take pictures but they were having a gas. Then it was a basketball game (Jimmy/Herbie vs Billy/Joey) and more football.  Tracy felt a ton better and sort of wondered what happened the day before.  Weird.  It was MN High School Football playoffs that night so Tom, Jeff, Joey and Jimmy headed to US Bank stadium to see Minnetonka play Eden Prairie, it was a good game and a great way to see the Super Bowl Stadium on a reasonable ticket.  Tammy, Georgia, Herbie, Kay and Billy went to see Wonder. Tracy and Sue stayed home to catch up on The Middle and Modern Family as they both have an aversion to crying in public.

Saturday was more football (MI vs OH) and Sue catching Tracys cold and being down for the count.  Tracy felt TERRIBLE that Sue caught it. Poor Sue.  The kids played more football and dinner was make your own pizza's followed by Elf and The Sound of Music. Strangely no one besides us had seen either in their entirety.  Elf is one of our favorite holiday movies and it sets the tone for the whole season (I like smiling, its my favorite. Francisco, thats fun to say. Santa, I KNOW him! What did I sing you on your birthday?!)

Unfortunately, despite staying up late Saturday night, Sunday finally came and everyone had to leave. Luckily Sue was feeling way better and was able to drive home.  Tammy's family faced the murderous 9 + hour trip home but managed to get home in time for the Packer game (damn that last field goal!).

It was TOO much fun, the kids love each other and get along great, its easy, relaxed and exactly what a holiday should be. Can't wait to repeat in 1 month at Tammy's house. The bonus there will be our parents and Julie and the boys will be there too! Yeah!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!
Day 1 of football

The real thing

Covering some distance

The gang, Jimmy, Tammy, Jeff, Tracy, Tom, Sue, Herbie, Kay, Georgia, Billy and Joey

Kay getting help from Georgia and Herbie on the pie making

pumpkin, pecan, apple and apple


make your own pizzas! a big hit

Happy pizza kids

The hills are alive!!

chilling and cuddling

under the rug to take full advantage of the heated floor, 3 bugs in a rug

an empty house;(

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Taekwondo (aka Billy) Update

Ok, who knew that taekwondo season was in the fall? Not us! In fact, if we had we may have reconsidered having a kid in football and one in tkd.  Its been NUTS!

Now that Billy is competing at the black belt level, we've "graduated" to a travel meet schedule. This fall has already taken us to Chicago, Florida and South Dakota.  January is Vegas and that doesnt include the local meets which happen about every 6 weeks. Tracy has handled all the travel tournaments and is exhausted.  Nothing like sitting on a bleacher for 8+ hours waiting to see your kid compete for 4 1/2 minutes.  Riveting balanced with complete boredom.  Good thing the tkd families are super fun and everyone gets along famously (we HAVE to, we'd go crazy otherwise!)

Not only is this his 1st year competing at the black belt level but he's also in the 12-14 age group (just turning 13 next month) and little (feather weight at 90 lbs and only 4'9").  This means he's constantly competing against kids that are bigger, older and have more experience. Its been a tough year but he's a fighter. Literally.  His size doesnt play much into his pomsea competitions with the exception that he's learning all new forms at the black belt level BUT ... it makes a HUGE difference in sparring where they are now allowed to do head kicks since they are black belts. When your competitor has 4-8 inches on you and 10-15 lbs over you, thats a big advantage (for your competition!).  Billy has stepped up to the challenge and is giving it his all. He never backs down, takes his points where he can get them, is very coachable and open to learning and most of all... a great sport. He always says nice match and figures out what he can learn from the match. His coaches adore him as he's an amazingly smart, technical and strategic fighter. He's precise, thoughtful and has quick reflexes.  In fact, his coach says he's right where he wants him - getting better with every meet, learning new skills, getting more flexible and stronger and resilient. He's "the whole package" and all anyone wants him to do is grow 6 inches.  Thats all.  If only that were in our control:)

Billy continues to love tkd, his team, his coaches, his friends, learning new skills and getting stronger.  He's a true warrior and we are so proud of him!!

Waiting for your next event is the hardest part.

I wish they were talking about tkd strategy but I suspect it was NBA results and video game hacks.

His official black belt certificate
The 1st place winner - Ross - was coaching another team member in their event and couldn't make the photo - love that they have the kids coach each other - great learning!

Joseph photo bombed - Grandma and Grandpa came to see him compete in Chicago. Much appreciated and fun!


Billys Buddies - Esa, Isaac, Augie, Joseph, Ian and Jacqueline - Rogers kids

The full TKD crew!

Watching Marvel movies in the hotel with Ian, Isaac and Lori.

Billy coaching against Ace's coaching with 2 of the kids he fought and lost to.  Billys kid won.
Tournament of champions 2nd place weapons

Ace and Billy, bringing home the hardware

At the Million Kicks for Cancer Fundraiser - wearing his pink dolbak in honor of breast cancer warriors

Es and Billy's prom picture

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Football- The Year that never was

Jimmy # 86 spent hundreds of hours in the gym from February through June lifting weights, increasing his speed and agility, conditioning all in preparation for this years football season.The one thing he could not train for was not being an upper class-man.

The practises started and the coaches implemented a point system to determine who would be the starters in many of the key positions. Jimmy was bound and determined to be the starting H, or tight-end. He was 12 points ahead of his any other kids in that position and was super excited. He is very aggressive when it comes to football and there was no way he was going to let anyone beat him. So that's when we ran into the first of many problems. He was told because he was only a Sophomore he would not be starting. I give Jimmy credit for saying to his coach " Let me get this straight, even though you had us go through all these tests and goals and even though I won everyone one of them I am not starting because I am a Sophomore?" His position coach said that was the decision the head coach made. To that Jimmy replied then why did you lie to me? I would not have done one thing different in any of these drills even if I new I wasn't going to start" That was how the whole season went.

Jimmy played his heart out in every game, practice and scrimmage. He played only 6 plays of defense the whole year resulting in 3 sacks, 2 rushed passes, and a fumbled recovered for 20 yards, then the coaches decided to not play him on defense any more... it was very frustrating and confusing.
Then the coaches invite him to come to the varsity film session to prepare for the upcoming game which is great. They spend the week practicing Jimmy playing tightened and slot receiver until game day when they tell him they have changed the game plan and he will not be playing and because he didn't go to the JV game he will be benched.... so for the first home game of his varsity career he had to stand on the side lines and watch...he was not happy. Once again he took to his caused and asked the coaches " what should I be doing to get more play time?" They replied go to the JV games.

JV had the best record in the whole Hopkins football program and finished 5 wins 3 losses, prior to this year the JV team had only one 2 games ,where was Jimmy? On defense sacking the QB, plugging up the middle of the line and tacking running backs, in the backfield tacking the fullback for a loss. He was returning kick offs, playing running back, catching passes making first downs and even a 15 yard touchdown run! He had two games where he over 200 all  purpose yards.

Back to Varsity where the coaches took notice and spent the entire team working plays with Jimmy at running back, he was once again coerced over to the dark side. He would come home from practice on cloud 9 ...'I'm going to start at full back' and he did, for 2 plays then the coach freaked out and completely changed the game plan 5 minutes into the game and once again Jimmy was shaking his head. This is how the season went.

Finally it was the play-offs, Hopkins was 1-7 going into the play-off season and Jimmy's view was " well Dad all we need is four straight upsets to make it to the championship!" Positive attitude, great kid. Jimmy did play quite a bit in the playoff game and came away with a great outlook, mindset for next season. The final game was in the snow with 30 mph winds and he got a ton of play time. He came home super excited "I've waited my whole life to play in the snow and I LOVE it!!  I cant wait until next season!" While he was not happy with the way the season went (mainly because of coaching) is looking forward to next season with enthusiasm. This year was 1-8, next year is in the making.

The Football banquet was like all those types of events 3 hours long with lots of inside jokes and pranks. The high lights, Jimmy received a letter award and an award for maintaining a higher than 3.0 grade point during the season, way to go!

Jimmy also made a highlight film which is below and low and behold the High School scouts found his film and were very impressed, especially with his defense and asked him where the rest of his defense film was, and since the coaches decided to not play him after the first couple of games he replied, I spent the remainder of the season focusing on offense. The good news is they have identified him as an athlete, they think he has a ton of potential, they are impressed with his weight lifting strength and speed and will be watching him.

Hopefully, next year, he'll play positions on both offense and defense. So all in all a pretty decent Sophomore year!

So the day after the banquet where was Jimmy, back in the gym training and getting ready for next season, where else!