Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry Christmas to all and to all a GOOD NIGHT!

The 2 days leading up to and the 2 days after Christmas were filled with amazing friends, family, food and snow. It literally snowed for 4 days straight. It was thick heavy wet snow. Perfect for sledding and snow men, but killer on the back and neck (shoveling). Tom worked off his weight in cookies/sweets simply by trying to keep our drive way clear!

We hosted Tom's family for Christmas Eve. While the whole clan was not able to make it (see above snow issues) we did have a houseful and were thrilled to resurrect our appetizers with soup/salad tradition. The cousins exchanged names and Michaela was a right bossy Santa Claus (gotta love that in a girl). The kids were all really good about waiting and being excited about each other gifts. The grown ups did a book exchange and I just started reading my "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society". Tom got a cookbook (go figure) and has been reading that front to back as well.
Nothing say's Merry Christmas like fireworks!

Christmas morning brought a nice "visit" with the kids in my bed while we wait for Tom to get done shoveling and for Billy to wake up for Santa presents. He was WAY good to us this year. Tom got a new leather coat, the boys skate boards, Kay Rollerblades and we ALL got ice skates. We are excited to get going on all our new activities! (now the snow just needs to cooperate a melt a bit) Jimmy also got a new drum set, Kay a balance beam and Billy a Leapster. They haven't stopped playing with their new toys yet! It really was a magical year and magical ages for Christmas. Grandpa made breakfast and we hung out in our pj's until it was time to go to my friend Michelle's and eat more. She has a traditional party with homemade Tom & Jerry;'s. YUM! The kids chased each other around with the newest hottest toys (aka nerf guns) and the girls did makeup.

Saturday was more snow, lunch with Uncle Don's friend Joanne and a crazy crazy party at our friends the Willis's. Again, the nerf guns were a hit and the girls were busy doing gymnastics all over the house. The grownups had every kind of wine, beer, booze and shot available. Tom and I were one of the first to leave (its safer that way:L))

Sunday was a super relaxing day with the Gottsackers, sledding, food, makeup, the movie UP and just hanging out. not a bad ending to our week:)

Now, I'm back at work, Tom's trying to get the kid s into a schedule for the last week of vacation and we are set to watch the Vikings on Monday night football. :0

Monday, December 21, 2009

'Tis the Season!!

As if the LoudAmericans weren't busy during the other 48 weeks of the year, but the holiday season sends us into overdrive. We have definitely groups of friends/family that we include in our traditional "holiday good cheer" each year. Here's the updates so far...

THANK YOU - Kay's 1st grade class is tracking the Gingerbread Man across the world as he travels to spread sugar and good cheer - Thank you to EVERYONE from aournd the world that spotted him and emailed Kay's class. There are some pretty amazing sightings, check them out!

Gated Community Glee Club - we got together if our favorite neighborhood families for a night of Mexican food and a sing along. You'd think that we'd be singing Christmas carols, but no... not this group. Our songs of choice? Show Tunes! Yep ... Fame, 9 to 5, Sound of Music, etc. Tim was on piano, Niel on guitar and I was on tambourine. It was a blast and afterwards Jimmy's comment was "wow, Tim's really good, he's better than I thought on the piano!".

Happy Hour Group - yep, that's what they are called. Its a group of friends that have known each other for 19+ years. We all worked together (at Target) right out of college when happy hours were plentiful and frequent. They have since morphed into bi-annual appetizer-fests at our house with dogs, kids, etc. We are all still great friends; as can be attested by the fact that we all are currently sporting the same hair cut:)

I Nonni & Greg/Des - By FAR my favorite restaurant with favorite friends. We brought the kids & Nikki over to their house and they all had a blast on their respective play dates. Dogs, kids and the grown ups too! 12 different Italian dishes with 2 fantastic reds. Yummmmmm

CCP - (Cousins Christmas Party) - My favorite Murphy family tradition. The standing invite list is Tom's 32 1st cousins and their partners/spouses. No kids, No "grown ups"... Games, food and drinks. This years theme was $10,000 Pyramid, chili, bonfire, margaritas and talk about our kids. It was our 1st time attending in 3 years and I have to admit its the Christmas event I missed most when we were gone.

Lazy Sunday - The Murphy's/Millers re instituted our lazy Sunday afternoon traditions in Bangalore with 3 People magazines, a holiday movie, martini's, sandwiches and soup. It felt great to just relax with our "other" family. The only difference? the kids played in the snow instead of the pool and Ang & I coveted head oils.

VanMeters/ornament making - Another yearly tradition, getting our families together for good food and a little holiday spirit. This year the event was ornament making and bake your own pizza. Good easy, relaxing, fun Monday night. They are heading on a beach vacation in 2 days so they were in pre-vacation mode already (not as relaxing for them as it sounds, packing and preparing where still in their plans, but it was great to get some alone time with them before the holidays)

Jim Fellows Steak Dinner - Jim Fellows if one of our "chosen" family and he came over for a low key steak dinner with his dog Kodi. He was sporting a bit of a cold but it was great to just relax, chat and watch the kids antics. He gave Tom a wine making kit (the gift that keeps giving) and a deadline that the 1st "good" bottle of wine needs to be ready for his birthday in March. The pressure is on!

Jimmy & Skateboard camp - Since school is out, we have Kay & Bill signed up for open gym in the mornings. Its at the grade school and includes EVERYTHING they have for gym class ... scooters, jump ropes, gymnastic matts, balls, etc. They have built forts and basically run wild for 3 hrs each day. I LOVE open gym. Jimmy has been going to skateboard camp and is too cool for school. He is learning to "drop in" and comes home dirty, sweaty and happy. I joined them for lunch today and they had Van Halen blaring on the speakers and they all were eating corn dogs. Its good to be a boy.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Billy is now 5

Yep just ask Bill and he will tell ya, and anything else you may or may not want to know. Billy has now approaching the status of having lived in Minnesota as long as he lived in India, the difference of course is he did the India 2 and a half years all in a row.

Bill has come a long way since we set foot back in the good old USof A, and he even can speak English, pretty good. When we woke up the morning we left India Bill was the first kid awake because he tought we were going on vacation. For the first seveal weeks he kept wondering why we keep coming back to this house and "when are we going home"?. Bill also was missing rice and dal and his two personal helpers Raj and Florence. Bill had a hard time trying to adapt to no calling calling him sir!

Bill learned to ride his bike, he loves to go sleding and he and Nikki are two kindered souls. Bill spent the summer 'wimming', wanting to take 'leading' lessons and had a ball learning how to tease Jimmy and Kay. Ol' Bill (as he is know around these parts) is the last of the Murphy's with a birthday in each year and feels like royalty because of it. He had a big celebration at the airport museum in Bangalore for his 4th birtday and nothing says birthday party USA style better that CHUCK E. CHEESE'S. Bill and several of his friends hit Chuck E's like no ones business.

Bill received a crown and the other kids sang 'all hail the king', kind of remeniceant of being called 'Sir". The best part for Bill was he did not have a big scrap on his nose like he did when he turned 4, ouch!

The other kids almost had him convinced that he would go to kindergarten the day after he turned 5. Luckily we nipped that one in the bud, but I do think he's ready - although I am not sure Mrs Houston and Meadowbrook are!
Bill has become quite the philosopher in his old age. On the morning of his 5th b-day we asked Bill did he feel any different that when he was 4, to which he replied, no, I feel the same, and he was somewhat disapointed by the revelation. Later in the day after he had opened all his presents he commented that .."now I feel like I am 5". Bill and Mommy were talking on his birthday and Billy wanted to know "why did you chose me?", a profound question for a 5 year old auto-mechanic want to be. The answer is simple - he was perfect for our family. The bigger question is - why did he choose us?

Bill loves his cars and trucks so much it took 30 minutes of discussion trying to decided between a Lighting McQueen cake versus a monster truck cake, the monster truck won out. Bill dove into the cake with gusto which made Mom and Dad both proud and reliefed as the Lighting McQueen cake incident at his 3rd birthday (as it has come to be called), had us worried about therapy and cakes but Bill seems to have gotton over that.

Billy is a very funning and for the most part good kid. He is a quick learner and pointed out that the reason they call jellyfish jellyfish is because they are made from jelly! This coming from the same kid that tolds why they call spongebob squarepants spongebob square pants.

So, here's to another fun, adventurous, loving, crazy, loud year with our dear Billy Balou.

We love you Billy Balou!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Ok, where were we...???

We left off at Kay's gotcha day and Grandma & Grandpa's arrival. Things really took off from there:)

We took the kids to go see "Up". If you havent seen it, its a great movie. Now, we are all running around yelling "squirrel" and talking about the "cone of shame". The kids laughed through the whole thing and Billy announced - real loud - in the middle of the movie "oh look, they are old and still in love". He's my little romeo.

Tammy, Jeff and the kids arrived late on Wednesday night from Michigan via Green Bay. They cant stop talking about the Packer Hall of Fame and now we have the itch to go too! The kids were quickly squirrled away to bed but of course the adults sat up to chat (and have a glass of wine). (They have 3 kids - Georgia 6 Joey 5 Herbie 2 - needless to say, the girls spent all weekend dressing up, dancing, coloring, etc. The boys spent all weekend wrestling, football, terrorizing the dog... who says boys & girls are different?!)

Thursday morning we went to Wendy/AnneMeik's for brunch to meet AnneMeik's Mom (Marie) and see their photos of Amsterdam. It was a nice quiet way to start the day. Egg bake, pumpkin muffins, coffee, tea, kids, photos, it was all really nice to be able to have my biological family spend some time with people from my chosen family. The kids played running races down the hill and left many colored pictures as presents.

We decided to smoke a turkey which meant it went on the smoker at 9am and we ate at 7pm. It was stuffed with pears and probably the best turkey Tom has ever done. We served it with potatoes, green beans, 7 layer salad, gobi manchuri, beet root and rolls. So, a little tradition from here and India:) The rest of the day was filled with football, football and more football. The boys are obsessed and we now have firm rivalaries established. (Unfortunately Jim F was sick otherwise we'd have had our extended bio/chosen family together for this event too)

Friday was -girls day out (lunch and a bit of shopping) which meant the boys went where??? you guessed it - to a sports bar to have lunch and watch the football game. We also rallied a mean crock pot of chalupa's (my favorite) and a visit to the Holidazzle Parade. (The Holidazzle is a parade of lights that happens every Thurs - Sun between Thanksgiving and New Years). The kids went NUTS! There was music and lights and Bullseye the Target dog and hot chocolate and Santa and I was reminded of the scene in "A Christmas Story". They talked non-stop, sang along and waved until their arms fell off.

Saturday was my parents 45th Wedding Anniversary so we had big plans... more football, food and playing:) We took the kids to open gym at school (where they played football) and when that ended, the weather cooperated enough to play at the park for another 2 hours (football again). We did a surf & turf dinner (steak & salmon) and toasted to the fact that NONE of would have been here or together if not for them.

Sunday was bitter sweet as Tammy & gang headed out for their long drive home. Mom & Dad left Monday morning early.

So, while we missed Sue, Julie, Ced and Solomon, it was great to get 'some' of us together. The kids acted like it was a big 4 day sleep over and even the adults got to relax a little. We ate great food, but, most importantly got to create some sweet memories of all of us together.
Isnt that what Thanksgiving is all about - celebrating & being thankful for all the love/family/friends in your life? :) (oh yeah...and football.....)