Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy 3rd Annual 49th Birthday TOM!!!

Tom celebrated in style last weekend his 3rd annual 49th birthday. (I'll let you do the math:))

It started with a "Hangover III" trip to Dallas Tx with his high school buddies. Long story short, the consumate bachelor (Tom H) in the group got married earlier in the year and this was a weekend to celebrate. The guys traveled down, sans their wifes, for a party weekend. Typical of men "of a certain age", they overestimated their ability to have fun without their significant others. While a good time was had by all, the common theme seemed to be "we should have brought our wifes!". It seems there were stories, beer, dancing, beer, practical jokes, beer and a really good time by all. I think its a successful weekend when you are considering staying and extra day to get over your hangover:) Congratulations Tom and Susan, all the best!

Tom managed to make it home alive and un-hungover on Saturday, just in time for our date night out with his birthday buddy. Yes, Wade and Tom share a birthday! In our annual style, we headed out for a good dinner, wine, talk and dessert. We were dying to try Sea Salt and it did not disappoint. Its an open air seafood restaruant right at the top of Minnehaha Falls. It was a gorgeous fall night and there was even an acostic guitar/singer. Perfect! We then felt VERY cosmopolitan and took the light rail downtown for dessert/wine at Ike's. You GOTTA love a place that serves a 7 layer chocolate/chocolate cake. YUM! And, I hear they have a killer brunch and bloody mary. Do I hear next year calling already? We took no risks and cabbed it home. The kids were actually asleep that was probably the best present of all:)

Sunday morning was present opening and cupcakes with the kids. Tom is now newly outfitted with a new summer wardrobe, just in time for fall:) AND, he's got a Target gift card burning a hole in his pocket for the new Lee Child book.

Many, many of you made Tom's birthday really special with your calls, emails and Facebook posts. They came from all over the world and I KNOW he loved connecting with each of you in his own way. Thanks for being such an important part of his and our lives!

Tom, a birthday message to you...Thank you for all you do for us as a family, as a Dad, as a friend, as a partner, as a board member, as a volunteer, as a backup parent to the neighbor kids and football/basketball/baseball team kids and for.....well, just EVERYTHING! You are incredibly special and make so many peoples lives richer because of who you are. We love you. I love you! SMOOCH!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Grandma and Grandpa Weekend!

We just wrapped up our Grandma and Grandpa weekend and it was a blast! Grandma Bunny and Grandpa Jim came into town on their way from their summer cabin in Michigan to their winter condo in South Carolina. Yes, South Carolina from Michigan by way of Minnesota, not necessarily a linear route, but one we really apprecaited!

We kicked off the weekend with a viewing of gymnastics practice for Kay and Billy on Thursday night. This is sort of like watching paint dry with an occasional squirrel running past. But, they were hardy and good sports and Kay and Billy loved showing off their tricks on the bars, balance beam, trampoline and rings. Billy must have done about 40 hand stands and even HAD to do some push ups (although I think that was a behavior issue, not showing off). We also learned that Kay likes the chalk for the bars...a lot... over and over...every chance she gets:) We ended the night with full combat UNO. Jimmy took 1st and Billy took 2nd, they were thrilled and used every opportunity they could to rub it in.

Friday was a nice low key day of running errands, tailoring some of my shirts (thanks Mom!), and general enjoyment of Minnesota in the fall. We had dinner that night with Aubrey and Patti, Grandpa Jim's best friend since junior high. Aub is a famous teller of jokes, funny stories and practical jokes. We had a great time catching up. Also to show what a small world it really is...Aub's daughter Sarah and I used to work together in the same department at Target. Really, a super small (and fun) world.

Saturday had BIG plans in store. 1st up?! Hopkins 4th grade football (vs Wayzata team 10 - yes Wayzata has 10, count them 10 4th grade football teams. CRAZY!). It was a cold and windy match. Blue Crush (Hopkins) scored the 1st touchdown, only to be closely followed by Wayzata. Then, Wayzata pulled ahead and the boys in blue got discouraged. The parents and coaches did their part to "amp" them back up and they came from behind to tie it. With 3 minutes left on the clock, Wayzata had the ball on their 3 yd line. The tension was palpable. Could Blue Crush hold them and secure a tie? THEY DID! The crowd went crazy! I think I have an ulcer (seriously, the stomach ache that comes with watching your 4th grader play a competitive game of football is indescripable, I'm never going to make it to the high school level). Jimmy played almost every down of the game and made a couple great plays. We also had an interception on both sides (1 reason you dont usually see passing at 4th grade games) and some great runs. The boys in blue were VERY proud of themselves and it was a great lesson in not giving up and persevering. Go Blue Crush!!

We were hoping to catch the Twins game post the football game, but given it was overcast, windy, cold and the Twins arent playing up to major league standards, we skipped that opiton and headed straight home. Grandma Bunny spent the afternoon teaching Kay to knit and sew on Kay's new sewing machine. Kay is a natural. Seriously, she had the house covered in bits of fabric and yarn. She was in heaven and I think my Mom was too. Let's just say my sisters and I never showed the same passion for the creative arts as Kay does. I think they are kindred souls. Speaking of kindred souls...that afternoon, Jimmy & Grandpa watched more sports on TV and Billy played Legos.

Grandma Bunny made us a delicious dinner of Algerian chicken, Kay made a homemade apple pie (with apples from our tree) and I made a batch of turkey noodle soup, the house smelled DIVINE!

We ended the night with family movie night "Soul Surfer". It was SO good, seriously, see it. Very inspirational and the fact that its all shot in Hawaii doesnt hurt.

The Grandparents were up an early on Sunday as they have a long 2 day drive ahead of themselves to South Carolina.

THANK YOU so much for coming and hanging out with us. It was perfect! We love you!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Back to School

Meadowbrooke, ready or not, here we come!

The 104 days of summer vacation sadly have come to end. The Loudamericans had quite a summer as you have seen visa the many blogs we posted. We were able to have an incredible ' rock star" summer traveling, having visitors, sporting events, (playing in them and going to them), birthdays, parties and more, wow we are truly blessed.The kids learned whom there teachers would be and whom was in their classes and they packed their school supplies and we were ready to go.

Billy, it is hard to believe, is now as Jimmy says, " a school ager". Bill and his new 25 best friends have Mrs. Vaughn as their teacher. Upon meeting her on the first day it was hard to tell who was more excited to be there her or the kids. Mrs. Vaughn has been a forth grade teacher for several years and this is the first time teaching first grade and boy is she excited. Bill is one of the lucky kids, as they say, because he has his own locker, which is unheard of until 5th grade.When we dropped Bill for his first day we helped him begin his new routine and when were leaving leaving wished Bill good luck, to which he responded " I know I will have some".

Kay received the news she would have Mrs. Skalicky, Jimmy's teacher from last year, and she breathed a sigh of relief. Kay just loves Mrs. Skalicky, mostly because she announced that there would be no homework the first week of class, we will see how long this love lasts! Kay has 26 kids in her class and the spent the first week getting acquainted. The main focus this year is reading and research, a couple of Kay's strong points. The year is shaping up just perfectly and as we heard her say '"I love it when a plan comes together"! Good luck Mrs. Skalicky!

Jimmy, the 4th grader and school veteran, is in Mrs. Bell's class along with his locker partner and teammate, Landon - both were ecstatic. The class has several interesting turning points for the kids, the main one being book reports... to the tune of 20 this year, YIKES. Jimmy needs to read and do 3 book reports per month to make the coveted trip to Mall of America. Those who complete the required amount of reading go to the Mall and those who do not stay at school with a substitute and have a normal school day, we will see if this is a big enough incentive to drive the young minds to excel.

We wish everyone a happy and prosperous school year, stay tuned as the kids accomplishments are chronicled, critiqued and recorded!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Happy Labor Day

Headed off to Richard Bong State Park for the "Labor Day weekend show" (bonus points if you can name the song & singer), we got the car loaded down with Nikki as well and e set off to met Tammy, Jeff, Georgia, Joey and Herbie, at this scenic and beautiful park. Kenosha Wisconsin!!

The trip down, to our surprise, was uneventful as the good folks of Wisconsin suspended all road work until after Labor Day. The roads were great and we made the journey down without a hitch, as they say. You have to love Wisconsin where when you ask for directions they say things like " Go down the road here a bit till the road bends the curb around and then at the stop and go light, turn left and the store she's right there. have a great day, oh sure you betcha ya!" We made one quick stop at Target and made it to the park in about 6 hours and with enough light left to set up camp. Tammy and Jeff were right behind us and after we set up camp, the real reason for getting there early.... the Friday Night Fish Fry, another great thing about Wisconsin!

Driving around the country side in the dark with directions to the Eagle INN Supper club, we were super excited. Then the first problem ...the road you need to take is closed so you need to "go down this way till the road, well she stops and then you need to follow around this way a bit till road you she keeps going and the supper club will be around there ya know". We never found the Eagle Inn, however we did find the local Sports Bar that had a big Neon sign that said " Come for the fish and stay for the volleyball" our kind of place! The security guard at the front door took one look at this crew and got us a special table where he could keep an eye on us. The kids loved the place, Jimmy however was giving this big, over served guy a hard time about the Brewers and Packers to the point where the security guy was inching a bit closer to our table. All in all it was a great time but we never did get to see any volleyball.

Saturday was all about exploring the park. The kids went to the morning art and nature class while Tracy took a hike around with Nikki to get the lay of the land. The park, it turned out, has a great swimming beach which was on the agenda for that afternoon. It was warm and muggy with impending doom being broadcast via the weather channel. If I could for just a moment, make a point of reference.... Here we were in the middle of 16,000 acres of beautiful Wisconsin parries and forestland looking at Jeff's Ipad2 watching the weather channel, really. Technology has it place and I guess watching a storm brewing in the woods could constitute a good reason, maybe. Anyway we headed into town to gather some supplies and while the storm sirens went on, the sky was midnight dark and the lightening was spectacular. We had lunch in camp and as the first wave of rain rolled in we headed into the only real oasis around, the bowling alley!

We waited out the storm , the kids had a ball (no pun intended) and Billy was able to perfect his bowling form. I felt a bit sorry for the owner of the alley as the lanes we were bowling on are no longer flat but more rolling like a rolling road, from the kids not so gently throwing the ball toward the pins, everyone was able to get a strike or spare so from that point well worth it!

Back to camp... where we had dinner, started a camp fire and were able to have a nice and somewhat dry night. The heat had broke so the sleeping was great and the rain added a nice and soothing pitter patter on the tent.

Sunday was a great weather day, no rain and all sun. We headed off to the "find the slither and slim program" however due to a bit of a late start and perhaps the weather the day before, the program seemed to be cancelled, no matter tot his hardy group it was off to take over the playground/ jungle gym at the beach. The kids got involved in some kind of obstacle course complete with rules only kids understand and after a couple of hours it was a tie for first place. That was enough so it was time for lunch. Then an afternoon at the beach wear there were several shark attacks and the kids had a blast playing "Jaws". Link below for Jaws - Kenosha Scenes 1-3.

Then we headed back to town to watch the water ski show, featuring kids from 8-18. The lake was super windy creating waves to which challenged the best skiers, however the show went on.

It was pretty cool to see these up and coming water ski show superstars, pull off the pyramids, double trick ski exercises and group ski trick among the winds and the waves, impressive. They even had a jump, the kids were most impressed by that, as we were!

That night we had the traditional family Chalupa meal and shared our favorite summer vacation stories. It was hard to believe that the summer was drawing to an end and there was so much we were thankful for. Monday we packed up made plans for a Thanksgiving Extravaganza and we all headed home with butterfly's in our stomach because...."tomorrow was the first day of school!"