Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tribute to Dave the Dog

Dave the Dog was a great big, long haired Golden Retriever and he's part of what made Meadowbrook Elementary extra special. He came to school every Friday for 13 years and spent the day with the kids. He was in every year book and even has his own bulletin board (Dave in the library, Dave at music, Dave at recess, etc). The kids loved him and we loved him. Here is the notice that came home from school on Friday. The kids were very sad and made homemade cards for Joan.

" Good Morning Everyone,

Some of you may have noticed that Dave, our office dog, is not at school today. Dave died this week. He was 13 1/2 years old and that is very old for a dog - if he was a human he would have been almost a hundred years old. His body just wore out. But, for 13 1/2 years Joan shared her dog, Dave, with us. This means that the students who were in kindergarten when Dave was a puppy are now in college. Students who were in sixth grade when Dave was a pully are now finished with college, have jobs and some of them have dogs of their own. Dave wore Halloween costumes, was in the Paris style show and was always available to be petted, read to or to be greeted by you with a "hi Dave!"

If you have happy memories of Dave or a fun story about Dave that you would like to share, write it down and bring it to the office and give it to Joan. Or if you would just like to thank Joan for sharing her dog, Dave, with us or tell her that you miss him too, you can come by and tell Joan. Greta (the principle)".

The silver lining? Toby, the pug/boxer puppy, started school a few weeks back. He got to train in under Dave and will be taking up where Dave left off:)

Big hugs to all the dog lovers out there!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Gentlemen Start your engines!!

Yes it is that time of year again for the Pinewood Derby,
In the past Jimmy waited until the last minute to design , paint and create his car and he learned that procrastination kills creativity.
This year Jim took the hands on approach and started thinking about his car way back in December. Talking about colors designs, his biggest concern, " Dad you need to make sure the wheels don't fall off again this year". Well... one wheel falls off and you are marked as a flawed car builder. Plus why is it my problem when Jimmy is to be designing and making this car! So with that in mind he came up with a plan, Lets go see if Reo can help us.

Reo and Mary live next door and are great neighbors and friends. They have a garage sale every year that the kids can not wait for, they haul all their precious unused toys, books, etc, over to Reo and Mary, they sell them and the kids get cash, plus Mary always has a treat for them. Reo has a real shop in his garage complete with a belt sander, table saw and a grinder, all necessary for crafting the perfect car out of a block of wood. Jimmy decided that they could be his honorary Grand Parents for the day and they agreed to come to the Derby.

The car made... Jimmy needed to figure out colors and chose black and red. Last year the colors coincided with the local football team however this year that team will remain nameless, another story. The car was completed on Tuesday, two whole days before the race, procrastination... not Jim. Race day came, nerves and butterflies abound we entered into the race facility. The line for the dreaded weigh in was short. Jimmy walked up and gently placed his masterpiece, "The Cobra" on the scale. Now the goal of any successful Pinewood derby car is reliant on the weight the closer you can get to 5 ounces the better, over 5 ounces you must remove whatever you can to reach 5 ounces or below, Jimmy came in at a whopping 3.2 ounces, OH no! Fortunately Dad smuggled in a repair kit and after some side bartering with the other Dads we returned to the scale complete with 4 quarters taped to the bottom of the car and surprise, 4.9 ounces, we were in!

The actual race takes forever. There were nine dens each with about 8 scouts in the den and Jimmy's den which had 18, I have to wonder if anything this kid does involves small or low key. We waited through 5 groups, Tracy arrived just in time as Jimmy's "The Cobra" reach the starting gate. I glanced over at Jimmy and he gave me the thumbs up. The gate was opened and the cars thundered down the track and to our horror the started had put The Cobra, on the track backwards, Foul! Jimmy yelled as the other car reached the finish line first. We talked with the race officials who informed us there is nothing they could do to which Jimmy responded "Hey Dad can I get a Dr. Pepper?", this ain't no football game!
The race was fun and after all the smoked settled Jimmy's cousin Ben won the heat to chants led by Jimmy of ' We believe in Ben". Jimmy was too cute when after the race he wanted to pay Reo for all his help even though he did not win, that's our boy.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Three Bears and a Bog

Martin Luther King stated " I have a dream" which I firmly believe had nothing to do with water parks, really!

In Warrens Wisconsin, tucked into the side of the highway is the picturesque Three Bears Water park. The Millers met us and we found out (eading the fine line details would have told us this too) why the rooms were so inexpensive, that is to say the water park was open until 9:00 pm on Saturday and open 9:00-1:00 on Sunday and closed on Monday. So much for taking advantage of a long weekend and a no school Monday. That did not stop the to the water!

The water park itself was no different that any other water park, meaning a big open space with a couple of different slides, a lazy river, a small kids area and the potential for any number of air born viruses and no heat. We let the kids go crazy and they had a ball. There is a hot tub with an opening that went outside and Jimmy thought that was awesome. He entertained the rest of the guests by climbing out of the hot tub and rolling around in the snow. I forgot to mention that the temp was about 10 below! Kay on the other hand could not get enough of the slides and the tunnel. She was consatantly running fron one tunnel to the next with a manical laugh and a shout. Bill was content to play in the tower and castle and make new friends.

Dinner that night was a bad buffet but it was fast and when the kids need to eat, there is no time to wait!

The rooms were actually the best part of the place. We had a suite which had two sets of bunk beds a nice sitting area with a table and a master bedroom complete with a door that closed off the kids and allowed for a peacefil night sleep!

Saturday the kids slept until 10:00 and we hit the water park for a couple hours of play and then it was off to Fort McCoy, outside of Tomah for snow tubing. The thought was the kids would be outside in the cold for a couple of hours and get worn out. As it turned out they all loved it, even Wyatt and we were there until they kicked us out around 5:30. The place is great they have 5 different runs with a special tow rope that hooks unto the inner tube and pulls you up the hill. All you had to do was line up the tube, jump on and hang on for dear life. They had singles and doubles so Tracy and Billy paired up and Tom with Kay leaving Jimmy on his own, which he loved.

As many of you know Wade and Angela are hosting Rica, who is from Germany and spending the school year in Minnesota. Rica is a blessing and she signed up to watch the kids on Saturday night so we could have a date night. Tracy has been obsessing about this place called The Bog. It is a restaurant at the same exit as the water park and the place is great. Brad and Georgette Martin own and operate The Bog and their food is great and the prices super reasonable. No trip to Warrens is complete without a stop at the Bog, make sure to tell them the Loudamericans sent you! (Be sure to order a house specialty cranberry drink, they are YUMMY!)

Monday we checked out and headed back towards home with a stop at the Stout Ale house in Menominee , note to self, on your birthday you can drink all day for free! The weekend was a blast and as usual the company great. We look forward to the next Murphy/Miller outing!
Next blog The Pinewood Derby!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Radio Silence

Ok ok, we know, we havent posted in a while. In fact, there are a few times through out the year when we go into 'radio silence' so to speak. What's up? What in the world are we doing? Well, like everyone our little family goes through cycles of adventure, fun, happiness and routine and then... dullness, work and introspection. I'd say the 1st few week of 2011 were the later.

As we re-started school after break and began staring down a long winter ahead of us, we've been nesting, reflecting, resting and getting back into our normal routines again (whatever normal is).

From a nesting, resting and routine perspective, the kids are back at it with:

~ drum lessons

~ piano lessons

~ basketball practice has started, 1st game this weekend!

~ gymnastics fall session is coming to an end and so evaluations for the next level are this week

~ boy scout pine wood derby prep, the race is tonight!

~ getting ready for girl scout cookie sales and a cool Feed My Starving Children volunteer event

~ Tracy signed up for yoga (yes, I know, I hate yoga and this class is underscoring that, but...I do feel better when its done and its 1 of my self improvement projects for 2011)

~ Tom (finally) went in to get his hearing checked and sure enough, he cant hear. So, now its a deep consideration of hearing aids (he's being very open about this and I'm proud of his decision as hard as it had to be!)

All this "reordering" of our lives has also forced us to reflect. The last year has been "the best of times/the worst of times". We have really had amazing adventures and experiences in 2010. We are blessed with a strong support network of people we love and enjoy being around.

ALL the good are faithfully logged on this site so that we can share with you!

Unfortunately, life also hands everyone "unbloggable" events as well. NONE of which have been logged. Why? Well...they are hard, heart wrenching, life changing decisions, changes and new patterns we are trying to establish and posting them for the world to see feels a bit TOO vulnerable with the stage we are at. Tom and I have been trying to live very intentionally as people, partners, parents and friends. Much of what we are struggling with are internal struggles that we both carry separately and need to work through independently but with each others support. We firmly believe that we will continue to grow through this and it'll flow down into our relationship and all our other relationships, but its not easy. We are both trying to change habits, let go of beliefs about ourselves that no longer serve us and understand who we want to be vs who we've always been. This has caused pain for ourselves and unfortunately, for others. Unfortunately, the largest is a rather deep riff with Tom's immediate family that we hope to heal one day, but we also know that we each need to heal 1st. We are very grateful that we have been able to continue a relationship with his mother as it gives us hope that there is healing for all in the future.

So, without sharing too much on a internet wide public site (:)) that's what we are up to in these times of radio silence. Stick with us. We'll be back with more adventures and a sunny attitude, but know, these times of silence are equally as necessary and important.

Big hugs of love!!

(P.S. we promise to post a pine wood derby update and water park weekend update SOON!!)