Sunday, February 03, 2019

Polar Vortex - Yikes

January totally got away from us. Between end of semester finals, gymnastics meets, work travel for Tracy, a Taekwondo banquet for Billy and 3 days off of school due to -25 degree weather, we couldn't see straight.  So, let;s get you all caught up...

Jimmy - continues to love his youth group and church. He's starting to play drums in the music ministry and is learning to run the sound. He's been practicing like crazy and its fun to see him so invested. He and Melanie "took a break" for week because they didnt feel like they were "walking the same path to Jesus".  They gave each other space, reflected and came back together.  It was his 1st brush with heart break and its hard to see your 6'2"  210 lb 17 yr old crying at the kitchen table. But, they handled it in a very mature way and are now back to dating.  I worry when he really does get his heart broken.  He also had a band concert as well as jazz concert. its so fun to see them play, they are SO good!

Kay had a tough few weeks - 7 gymnastics meets in 14 days on top of 2 finals (Biology and Geometry).  While she failed both tests (yes, got ~ 55 pts on each out of 100), she managed to get most of her homework in and passed the classes (with a C- and a D+).  I'm just glad she passed.  During all this, she had a mildly sprained ankle and wasnt able to compete in the big meet against Wayzata - sigh.  However, she's made it through, we started a new semester and are hoping for a fresh start.  Each meet she does get better on vault, floor and beam and its fun to watch. She is back to doing  back tuck on the beam and a tuck on her vault. Its exciting and scary to watch.

Billy had his annual Taekwondo banquet and while he SWORE he isnt a dancer and wasnt going to dance. .. low and behold, who's on the dance floor with Rick Astley? ! It was super fun to see all the kids having fun together and every single one of them dancing up a storm.  Tom drove Billy and Ace to Winnipeg for a camp and they all stayed in a big house together - 15 kids, 5 adults and Tom cooked for all of them. It was a great bonding trip and they managed to drive home about an hour ahead of a major snow storm and the polar vortex....

Tom is a saint.  Not only did he race a blizzard home for 7 hours in the car on 94, but he also dealt with 3 stir crazy kids when they were off school for 3 days due to dangerously low temperatures (-15 to -35 for 3 days straight, thats not even wind chill!).  He got lots of putsy stuff done around the hours  and even did the boiling water challenge (see below)

Tracy had a week long conference in Florida during the polar vortex and that brought a weird combination of mental exhaustions (conference), guilt (polar vortex) and relaxing (ocean walk every day).  She came back in full swing with a Super Bowl inclusive event with the Vikings and the Taekwondo banquet where she danced with all the mom's to hip hop.

Whew.  Now, onto February which will hold.... Gymnastics Sectionals and State (if Kay makes it), Sadie Hawkins Dance (juries out if Kay's taking a boy or not but she has a dress!), Iowa and Minnesota State as well as the US Open in Taekwondo and...Tracy's annual work celebration, the Togetherness Celebration.  Jimmy has a big Jazz fest and band concerts as wells.

No moss grows under our feet!  Send us energy and peace in the process.

Love to you all!

Boiling Water

Billy channeling Rick Astley

Kay Vault

Kay Vault 2


Jimmy's Jazz Band

Jimmys Band

Saturday, January 05, 2019

South Carolina Fun!!

Since our kids are die hard 'stay at home for Christmas' people, we usually head out of town on 12/26 to see Tracy's side of the family.  (and yes, we did watch Die Hard in prep for the holidays this year)

This year we decided to go visit Grandma and Grandpa in South Carolina.  They are putting their condo on the market in 2019 and we hadn't been to visit in 8 years (we usually see them in Michigan vs South Carolina).  I found 2 VRBO condo's and Tammy's family drove down to meet us.  It was fun!!

We flew through Atlanta, landed late, spent the night and got up the next day to get the car and make the drive. Its a super easy drive (2 1/2 hours) and its fun to start heading into the mountains.  We arrive about an hour after Tammy's family and it was cousin time!!  The girls stayed with Tammy and Jeff, Jimmy got his own room at Grandma/pas  and we had Joey (Herbie bailed on us and stayed with Tammy).

After all the hugs and welcome, we walked the nature trail down by the lake. Everyone paired up and chatted the whole time, catching up and just being happy to be together. Grandma had chalupas' ready and we set the TV to the NFL station, the dial would not change in 6 days...

The next day we explored the fitness center. All the kids got a great workout and spent hours swimming and in the hot tub.  We had our Christmas dinner (ham and aunt minnies) and watched more football.

Saturday, the rain finally stopped and we headed out for a real hike. Grandpa found one that led to a waterfall and would take us about 2 hours round trip.  It was gorgeous but a little treterous.  We were hiking along a river. Given all the rain, it was swollen and muddy. We had to cross the river on rocks 5 times and no one managed to stay dry. Billy even fell in.  But... Grandma was a trooper and we have new rule. No one is allowed to complain until Grandma complains. And, since Grandma never complains, we are enjoying that rule. Unfortunately we didnt make that rule until the end of the hike. So, the kids were loudly "complaining" (but having the time of their life) the whole way.  Our reward for making it was ice cream and more football!

Sunday was the highlight day, Grandpa got tickets to the Clemson basketball game.  Since he's an usher there, he was able to bring us down to court level. Best tickets we've ever had. The only bummer was ... the NFL flexed the Vikings game and Tom/Jimmy had to leave at 1/2 time of the Clemson game to go watch the Vikings game. Alls well that ends well though since...they secured a big table at the Wild Mushroom Pizza Joint and we were able to meet them after the game not wait for a table!

Monday was Georgia's 16th birthday so it was her day.  The kids went bowling and got fried chicken. Tom made ribs. Jeff made twice baked potatoes and Grandma made a salad.  It was ice cream sundaes for dessert and Monty Python the Holy Grail - a cousin favorite!

New Years Day was more fitness center swimming and the Escape Room. I was able to watch in the control room and it was pretty fun to see them solve the puzzles, work together and yell at each other.  None of them can claim to NOT be competitive.  We did left overs for dinner and watched more football.   Tammy and I also went through boxes and boxes of old photos and clothes/memoribilia with my Mom. In her effort to clean out, she wanted us to see some things and help her make some decisions. It was fun to see old photos and show them to the kids. The best was when Grandpa showed the kids his basketball scrapbook from when his team won state. The kids were so engrossed in his stories and pictures.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and we had to head home. Tammy and Jeff got up early and made the drive home in a record 12 & 1/2 hours.  We had all day to laze around, met a friend for take out Indian at her house in Duluth GA and then caught our LATE flight (10:45pm).  We got home at 1:30am and quickly tried to unpack in order to go to bed. The kids were thrilled to be home and Kay even asked me to make her a quick bowl of fettucini alfreado.  Tom offered and she said "no, mom makes it better - thanks mom!". Ahhh... I just wish it wasnt at 2am.

The good part of coming home before the end of break is that you get a bit of staycation time before school starts. So, the last 4 days of break have been spent getting caught up on chores, with friends and ready for school to start on Monday.

Loved our holiday break and are ready (and refreshed) to tackle 2019!  (or at least make it through until Spring Break;))  A HUGE thanks to Grandma/pa for sharing their world with us in SC. It is a special place.

So excited to see each other!

Best seats in the house!

Sharks vs Minnows - for hours


I'm not dead yet!

The pit toilet was closed because of the government shut down at the National Park we hiked in. Really? Its a pit toilet. 

Pre Hike - note the happy (and clean) faces

One of the river crossings


The gang

Playing HQ Trivia each night. Did I mention they are competitive?

Play a card game toghter on their phones (its like Uno)

The drive into Clemson

Sporting the Clemson Colors!

Watching the players leave after their win

He sat like this for over 30 min. Crazy

Bowling mania 

I guess I have had the same haircut for 40 + years

Grandpa sharing basketball stories 



Again with the Bangs

Marsha Marsha Marsha 

Awkward phase

Oh that shirt, yuck

Sr Picture

More sharing

Hayden and Billy adoption day

Jimmy, Shin Bee and Hayden 

Kay and Lesia 

Mary Pat and I on our 1st day of college

Watching them in the escape room 

The got out!

Nice job guys!!

Merry Christmas!

In typical fashion, our kids wanted to be home for Christmas. We LOVE this about them!

New on our tradition list was Christmas Eve service with Jimmy at his new church.  They had a mini parent, TONS of music and cookies. Jimmy knew all the pastors and some of his friends were there too. In fact, 2 of the kids in the pagent are Tom's kids at school and he also ran into a fellow teacher. Small world. It was fun to see Jimmy finding his faith and church community.

We kept it really low key with a fantastic lamb chop dinner, kids champagne and matching ugly sweaters (Tom gave us all a Christmas Eve gift of ugly sweaters - cute).  We laughed, talked and Kay even let us take her photo AND she's smiling!  Best. Gift. Ever.

Before they went to bed, the kids did rock paper scissors to see what time they would get up.  The boys wanted earlier (9) and Kay wanted later (11). Jimmy won and set the wake up time for 9:00am.

By the time we actually got everyone up, it was 9:30, we had cinnamon rolls ready and the kids attacked their stockings.

Then, it was off to the main event.  The kids are getting to an age where they dont really want much, but what they do want is expensive.

Billy had asked for a gaming laptop as a combination birthday/xmas gift.  Since the kid almost never asks for anything, we had to find a way to make it happen.  I looked around for reconditioned laptops and had great luck at Device PitStop (again!).  He was thrilled and has been on it non stop since.

Jimmy wanted pants, a bible and a t-shirt for St Johns Football. We also got him a pair of Birks so that he can stop wearing Tom's.  Kay gave him the bible which is the ultimate in irony.

Kay wanted a puppy.  A teacup chorkie puppy to be exact (chihuahua and yorkie mixed). She was on puppy websites for 8 weeks and finally wore me down.  We didnt actually get her a puppy but gave her a promise of a puppy.  We agreed to a mixed breed or rescue small (not teacup) puppy.  Now we just need to have the "right" puppy come along. We did fill out an adoption application for the cutest mixed breed sheltie puppies and are being considered. Its an 8 week process and I am in no hurry;)

Tom and I got things we needed, which was just fine with us.  Books, weights and clothes.

Post the present opening, we headed to Brigid's to see her family, Tom's mom and dad and their good family friends.  We had prime rib, aunt minnies, salad, stuffing....the whole feast. The kids had a great time playing pool and Kay and Charlie are 2 peas in a pod.  Kay was thrilled when Charlie said that Kay was her favorite cousin.  They ended the day either watching football or playing Sequence.

All in all, it was a wonderfully relaxed, happy, fun and family holiday.

We have so much to be grateful for. We are blessed.

Getting ready to open our Christmas Eve Surprises, we were watching Lucy for Wendy and Annemiek. For some reason Nikki boycotted the photo

My newest and most favorite picture of us. It perfectly shows what a great day we had.

My boys

lamb chops - yes, that was just for the 5 of us. We did bring some to Tom's mom as a present the next day - its her favorite

Stuffing and roast broccoli 

brussel sprouts onions and bacon

The finished product

For Santa and the reindeer.  Substations this year - raspberries instead of grapes for Blitzen and wine instead of coffee for Santa 

Christmas morning!




Kay hiding and Jimmy loving the bible she gave him

Billy being silly and thrilled with his gift

We LOVE our gifts!

The Murphys!!