Sunday, July 08, 2018

Jimmy and Kays Excellent Adventture

When Jimmy and Kay found out that we werent going to Michigan to be with the family for the 4th because Billy had a tournament in Salt Lake City, they pitched a fit.  They LOVE being at the cottage with their cousins. Its nonstop sports - volleyball, thunder, soccer, home run derbies, tensie, connect four, swimming, tubing, the list goes on and one.

We thought about it and thought - hell why not?!  Called up Tammy and Jeff to see if they'd be in charge of them for a week (pick up at airport, make sure they ate, were nice, polite, etc) and they were IN! Next up, 2 airline tickets for teenagers. Turns out Jimmy can fly alone since he's over 15 but poor Kay is one week away from 15 so had to fly in the unaccompanied minors program. Needless to say, its a $150 charge, each way, to escort your own kid to the gate,wait for them to board and then have a trusted adult (with the right secret  code) do the same on the back end. It did go very smoothly but not entirely sure why it cost so much.  So, we used their frequent fliers, booked the trip and they were off!

They were both excited for their 1st solo flight and full week without parental controls.   The night before we asked them what good behavior  looks like and they ticked off all the right answers - please, thank you, no long showers, bus your dishes, compliment the chef, no sibling arguments... you know ... the standard parent lecture.

They were a bit disappointed to find out the flight was only 51 minutes but it was good practice for the next time (or so they say).

Tom treated them to lunch at the airport and then we didnt hear from them for a full week - no calls, no texts, nothing. Good thing they were surrounded by family and we got the scope anyway.

They landed at Tammy and Jeff's and spent the next 3 days in Grand Haven going to BBQ's, swimming in the pool, watching movies, playing connect four, making breakfast - super fun cousin time.

Then, off to Glen Arbor and Grandma and Grandpas cottage. To put it in perspective, Grandma and Grandpa have a cottage on the same piece of land as Auntie Lynn and Dadu.  The cottages are part of an old resort that Tracy and her family went to every summer with Lynns family. Some serious long time memories, history and traditions up there.  Its so fun to go back and relive all the great memories.  In fact, Lynn's kids were all up too with their kids so... there were 9 kids ranging ages 16-11.  Serious kid heaven.

They had SO much fun and were full of stories and inside jokes when they returned.  In fact, Kay's phone died on day 1 of the vacation and she actually SURVIVED!  Not only did she survive, she had a great time!!  Yeah, see technology CAN be overrated.

When we told them that next year everyone was coming to MPLS for the 4th (since TKD nationals will be in MPLS next year) they balked - NO WAY, we HAVE to go to the cottage, its tradition, please mom?!  Wow, they really must love it up there. Kay even asked to get it in the will (nice.)

So, we reserved a cottage on the same property for next year and it'll be full on madness, figure we'll send them up 1st and then join with Billy once his competition day is over.

Oh the things we do for our kids....

Some highlights (photos shared by aunts and grandparents, not by kids;))

Thank you to the whole village that looked after them for a week. What great training for them to be on their own (at least from us) and prove what good kids they are. AND...have fun;)  Love you all!!

Let's just say ... Jimmy was expressly forbidden to bring "the hat" but he did - it caused controversy and then everyone of the boys wanted to wear it...urgh


Herbie and Kays silly glasses

Jimmy, Kira, Joey, Lola, Astrid, Georgia, Kay, Reece, Herbie - Missing - Joseph, Benjamin, Cedric, Solomon and Billy

Too many burgers

The BEST 4th of July parade ever!!

Jeff and Herbie

Jimmys handy work

Chilling with the world cup post lunch


more chilling

Kay LOVES this couch

More thunder

Getting ready to come home

They are home!!

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Its all about Bill...

This last week was a big week for Billy, Nationals Taekwondo and his gotcha day!

Tracy and Billy flew out Sunday night for Salt Lake City. Billy had to weigh in on Monday and was competing on Tuesday, flying home on Wednesday. It was a bit nerve racking since he HAD to weigh under 41kg (90.4 lbs) in order to compete in his weight/belt bracket. In a seriously flawed system, whatever weight you compete at in the state competition (in February!) you are only allowed to compete at that weight bracket at Nationals.  Never mind that these are kids and they are growing.  He was fine until 3 weeks before the event and then he hit a bit of a growth spurt (which otherwise would have been fabulous), he was 94 lbs the week prior to the event and self selected to cut out sweets (he doesnt have much of a sweet tooth anyway) chips, junk food, etc. They kid has discipline. This only brought him down to 93lbs so then we had to start fasting. That part sucked.  On Saturday we cut out all carbs and only ate veggies (pasta sauce, couscous salad, etc).  On Sunday he had a cucumber for breakfast, a big water bottle full of green tea, a carrot in the afternoon and a water bottle of water when he got off the plane.  That was it until he weighed in on Sunday morning at 10am.  It was seriously nerve wracking. He was lethargic and didnt feel well. Tracy was worried ... But...he kept calm and stayed the course.  He weighed in at 90.2.  Whew!! 1st activity was to eat a banana and drink water. He promptly felt sick and we had to walk around for a bit. BUT...he's a kid and by the afternoon he was eating burgers. Thank god Kay doesnt have to drop weight for gymnastics or one of us wouldnt be here to tell the story!

Once everyone was checked in and weighed in, now it was time for fun. We headed to Red Butte Gardens and they were gorgeous! We hiked for a few hours and the boys are still disappointed that we didnt let them climb the WHOLE mountain.  Back at the hotel, was swimming and big pasta dinner at Olive Garden.

Finally it was competition day....Isaac was up 1st and lost. Poor kid, he was on the lower end of his weight class and the other kids were huge.  He has a nice black eye to show for his efforts though!  Billy then fought a hard fight but lost 33-21. His coach said - I've never seen you fight better Billy, that was a gutsy performance and I'm so proud of you!  You did everything I said and were a joy to coach.  Thats our Bill!! Finally it was Ace. He also fought hard but lost to the kid who eventually won the whole thing. Not bad for the boys, in their 1st appearance at nationals as black belts. SO proud of them!  Of course we topped off the day with swimming and ordering in food by the pool.

The next day we needed an adventure so Tracy took a Lyft to the airport, picked up the worlds largest SUV and they were off to the Hill Aerospace Museum and Salt Lake via Antelope Island.  They both were so cool, it was a major drag that they had a 5pm flight hanging over their heads.

Tom picked them up from the airport and it was off to Leona and Bobs for fireworks.  They have the PERFECT viewing spot and it was super fun.

Then...the capstone for the week, Billys Gotcha Day! We had Korean food and brownies, kids champagne and everyone shared their favorite thing about Billy. The consensus is ... he likes and is nice to everyone, even when people aren't nice to him (like his siblings). I think thats pretty high praise.

Billy is such a gentle, thoughtful, kind, fierce, determined, focused, insightful soul.  We love you Billy!!

Salt Lake City here we come!

Love that they are addressing this (finally)

Checked in & made weight!

Post weigh in banana crash

Seriously good German Deli

Flat Bradley - lets hope we win the prize!

Red Butte Gardens

The hike!


His bracket

The team! 3 bronze and 1 gold

Post competition sleep over

LBJ's Airforce One at Hill Aerospace Museum

The boys

Salt Lake

Salt Lake

Salt Lake Selfie

More Salt Lake
The photos dont do it justice


Great seats!

Thank you Leona and Bob!

Aw...our dog whisperer

Typical Billy 


Hip Hip Hoolay

Happy 4th!


13th Gotcha Day

Loving him up!

Celebrating Billys 13th Gotcha Day and Jimmy passing the AP US History Exam

Korean welcome home dinner!

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Happy Birthday Tracy....

So as we began 2018 I knew there were a couple of big days on the horizon, our 20th wedding Anniversary for one and Tracy turning 50 for the other. I spent many hours over the past few months trying to figure out what to do and how to make it a surprise, that was important.

Tracy over the years seems to always know what she is getting for birthday's Christmas, Mother's Day and I felt she needed to have a super awesome and a surprise 50th birthday , but how and what?

Then I saw an ad for the Golden Valley Pride parade and the headliner was none other than our favorite local entertainer Erin Schwab, and Jay Fuchs and just like that a light bulb went on and I knew that I had to get Erin to perform in our backyard for Tracy. I figured a couple of e-mails a phone call and it would be set, no not really.

I sent out a save the date e-mail and made sure everyone knew it was a surprise and to keep the e-mail info from Tracy I used my work e-mail. Then I never heard back from Erin or her people, what to do? There really was only one option, Social Media Stalking, I mean it was not my fault i did not get any repossess to my " traditional " messages. I sent e-mails to the producers of The Jason Show, a local talk show where each day Erin is on the show working with audience, no response. I looked at her local schedule and called and sent e-mails the those people, sorry we can give out that info, WHAT!!!

I called the local Prism folks as she was playing there and tried to buy a ticket but they were sold out, getting kind of desperate here, I mean it was mid May I had all these people I sent save the day e-mail to didn't have a back up plan.. Happy Birthday Tracy one ones here because my plans fell through but here's a beer and a pedicure coupon, I needed to take the offense, seriously.

Back to the Social Media stalking I hadn't got caught thus far and figured full steam ahead. The Golden Valley Pride parade was just around the corner so I did a deep dive into the organization and who was on the board of directors, a hit, Kay"s friend Hannah"s parents were two if the founding members of the parade, I felt goosebumps this had to work. I called them, left a voicemail, sent e-mails, got out of the office replies, bought some more Surly, drank that and started back at it.  Then ...Bingo... I received an email from the people running the Pride Parade asking how they could help and in the next e-mail was a response from Erin, " Hi Tom, How can I help" SALVATION.

There were a few more bugs to work out but she finally cleared her and Jay's calendar for Saturday, June 23RD in our backyard from 7-9:30, and my problems were just beginning .

Tracy has always loved the Golden Valley Fireman's Street Dance mainly because it is a street dance, they have 80"s cheesey entertainers, but it always falls on her birthday weekend so she like to invite literally everyone we know from around the world to meet us there, this year was no exception. So while I was sneakingly inviting people to our house for her surprise parry she was sending emails to 180 people telling them to meet us at the fireman dance. So i had to hack into her e-mail account copy the e-mails from her sent folder and invite 180 people to our house, OMG! And she did this like three times and finally I was out, I sent an e-mail with the info, where to park and what time to be here.

In the middle of all this I had to run the Annual Golf for the gift Golf tournament. Tracy's mom and dad  have been part of this for the past few years and that was the cover they used to sneak into town for the Party. Tracy's Sister Tammy flew in Thursday am, helped all day at the tourney and when she got back to or house she was Tracy's surprise present. It was great because it was the reason Tracy assumed I was acting like a lunatic for the past couple of weeks. Her response to Tammy walking in at 9pm?  "what are you doing here?"  She got endless shit for that response the rest of the weekend.

Then the day before the party, which at this point I'm shocked is still a surprise, Tracy announces because her Mom and Dad & Tammy are here that she is clearing her calendar and taking the day off, NOOOOOOOOO, big smile on our faces, that will be great what fun, the hell am I supposed to get all this done while she is here, more Surly..

Finally Wendy showed up on Saturday afternoon and Tracy was scurried out of the house...sign but then I received and e-mail from Erin telling me she had bronchitis..really  at 3:00 the day of she said she would still come and do her best..
Meanwhile my friend Bill and Jim fellows were cutting the meat as fast as they coulee I was cooking the BBQ sauce and Amy and her daughter Anna along with Jim and Bunny were setting up tables, chairs decorations...
Jim and Jen brought the worlds largest cake which was awesome.
Finally the Jazz Band started to roll in and set up people started to show and out was on!
I got text updates from Tammy and Wendy and when Tracy came around the corner there were about 50 people in the back yard the Jazz band was playing  When the Saints come Marching In, Tracy was clueless and surprised!!!
Then a bit later she was in the house and I asked her what she was doing and she said " I'm getting my bike light and jacket. arenarentt we all going to drive up ti the Fireman's Dance.
I brought her outside and introduced to to Jay and Erin and she about died!!!
Thanks everyone for the help, love, generosity and for being part of Tracy's Birthday!!

Tammy, Bunny, Tracy and Jim

Bill was a HUGE help in getting set up

Even the girls had fun!

Hugs for EVERYONE when she walked in - and ... yes, she was totally surprised.

Bunny and Jim, Bunny said it was the best party she had EVER been to

The boys played!

Jennifer invited Tracy's friend from WAY back, Sean G.  Her response to seeing him "are you sure you are at the right party?" (context, Tim and Patrick were having a Pride Party next door)

Patti and Tammy

Dora, Jay F, Tom, Tracy and Wade  (Dora is Wade's finance and Jay is famous)

Tom, Erin and Tracy - Tracy could NOT stop smiling for days!

The girls still were having fun - a change of outfit always helps

Um... did I mention that Tracy had fun?

Getting the crowd going!

Craig, Doug, Jennifer, Tammy and Jim

The boys, not having as much fun as the girls but at least participated on  Sweet Caroline (ba ba ba ba)