Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

It is that time of year where many of us load up the family van with half of what we own and trek across county to visit our families and friends and give thanks for all that we have, Thanksgiving!

This year the Loudamericans set out for what some people refer to as " Football Mecca", Green Bay. Our Aunt Sue lives there and she secured us a rental house complete with a hot tub and big screen TV. You see, only in Green Bay can you find homes that are equipped and rented for Packer games, really! The house was perfect and we arrive there Wednesday evening without any traffic problems or more importantly no meltdowns. Grandma and Grandpa, along with Tracy's sister Tammy and her husband Jeff and their kids, Georgia, Joey and Herbie greeted us with a warm welcome. The kids took one look around, shed their clothes, donned their swim suits and jumped into he hot tub, where I might add the would have stayed the entire weekend had we not pulled them out for dinner!

Thursday being Thanksgiving there are really only three things of importance, the meal, Football and dessert. We spent the day watching football and true to his word (because he lost a bet with his Aunt), Jimmy watched the entire Packer game with a cheese head hat, whilst he face and body where painted with various encouragement statements for the Detroit Lions (aka Packers stink, written backwards because he did it while looknnig in the mirror). He is the quintessential crazed fan, Rudy has nothing on Jimmy. The rest of the clan visited, Kay and Georgia created many different works of art while Billy and Herbie battled it out over race cars and Nintendo football.

For the first time I can remember, we purchased a full Thanksgiving meal that was basically a cook in the bag sort of affair. Target has the package deal, turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy, walnut cranberry sauce and pie. I am here to say... it was easy, and very good. So it was fun to be able to just follow the directions and not worry about the meal. Because the Packer game was on and since they were playing in Detroit, they had to come back to Green Bay. So this lead to an outing to the airport to get a glimps of the players. This is a somewhat well kept secret and we got a piece of bum information and missed the opportunity, but not for lack of effort! (ie 2 trips to the airport with a van full of crazed fans - I mean kids)

Friday found us needing to get out of the house so in keeping with the theme, it was off to Lambeau Field and the Packer Hall of Fame. Curly and Vince greeted us as we went in and the tour was quite cool. However when you walk down the tunnel onto the field passing over some of the original bricks from the original Acme Packer Stadium, even Jimmy was in awe. I know a few adults that even got teary eyed.

Kay being a member of the Power Packers, received a free lunch coupon for her Birthday and was in heaven. Curly's, named after Curly Lambeau, is a sports bar/ family restaurant and lunch was awesome. Having be fortified we headed downstairs to the Hall of Fame. There is only one team that can pull this off and it is the Packers. The thing has everything from telegraphs and western union cables Vince Lombardi received to a place where kids can do the Lambeau Leap. There are highlights off every key game won or lost and each had one thing in common, screaming fans, unreal. We all enjoyed the entire day and it was really a blast. So what do you do as an encore to that?! Back home for more football on TV!

Saturday brought rain and cold weather. ESPN brought us the Michigan/ Ohio State game, the Wisconsin Badgers and who ever they played and round the evening out with the Clemson Tigers. In the midst we dragged the kids to the Y where we donated some can goods and were all able to work off the Thanksgiving Feast and the excess energy of sitting out our butts and watching football. Sammy's pizza, a must while in Green Bay was the Saturday Night Special and we thank Grandpa Jim for his generosity!

Sunday we packed up gave hugs and made plans for the next gathering. No trip over the holiday's is complete without running into traffic. We were making great time until right outside of Menominee, suffice it to say what should have taken an hour and a half took three. However in the midst of the delay we were treated to yet another brilliant insight from Billy. The entire way home he was relentlessly trying to figure out how many day until his birthday. He went at it from every angle and when he asked Tracy " Now what day is my birthday?" She replied December 10th Bill." He was quiet for a moment and then exclaimed " I get it your birthday is the same day you were born!" Enough said. Hes a genious.

Happy Thanksgiving to all and may your holiday's be full of happiness and good cheer!


The Loudamericans

Monday, November 21, 2011

Featured Alumni

Thought it would be fun to brag on my dad for a while:) He was recently featured in his college newsletter as Alumni Spotlight. The photos are great, wish I could figure out how to load them into here, but you'll have to do with the content... (He went to Carroll College in Waukesha Wi, they are the Pioneers)

Jim graduated from Carroll in 1964. During his time at Carroll, Jim was honoroed for his tremendous work ethic and leadership. He was named "Hinky Hero" as the outstanding male student athlete, sevred as "C" club president, and was team captain for men's basketball for two years. We are proud to have him as our Pioneer for life.

Why did you choose Carroll? I was from Wausau. That March (1960), we had won the State Basketball Championship (think Hoosiers!!). I then began looking for a Division III college that would provide and excellent education first and where I could play basketball and tennis. ...After making campus visits, Carroll won hands down over the others. An added bonus, Mancer Cyr and Chuck Wienkauf, both memebers of our state championship team, also made the decision to attend Carroll. The three of us chose Caroll in spite of knowing we would be spending our next four years in Waukesha. Waukesha High was undefeated when we beat them in the semi finals of the State Tournament. We knew we would be welcomed into the Carroll community, but we were not so sure of our reception into the Waukesha community.

What are your favorite memories of playing for Carroll? There are too many to list. However, here are a few: The great friendships I developed over four years with some very talented basketball palyers, many of whom are in the Carroll Hall of Fame. Being elected by my teammmate as captain in my junior and senior years. Being honored, in my senior year, by a faculty committee as outstanding scholar/athlete. Winning the College Conference of Illinois championship in two of the years I played.

Do you still keep in touch with former teammmates? Yes, with some, in particular, Bill and Karla Mullen and Mancer Cyr. Karla was my wife's college roommate and they were cheerleaders together. Bil and I went to work for the same company right out of Carroll and for the first few years of our married life, worked and lived close to each other in Chicago. .....

What are your other fond memories of Carroll? First and foremost, meeting my wife Denise (Bunny). We dated for two years and then married the summer we graduated. We have been happily married for 47 years.

What are you doing now? Living the good life. I retired in 1999 after 35 years with Wausau Insurance Companies. We live in the winter in the mountains of western South Carolina. We spend our summers on the shores of Lake Michigan just outside of Traverse City Michigan. We spend lots of time visiting our three daughters and our eight grandchildren. After retiring, I entered into somewhat of a second career. I became a volunteer firefighter with the local South Carolina fire department. I am entering my 10th year. While I am still fully certified, I no longer do interior fire attacks (my basketball days have finally caught up wtih my knees). However, there are enough other jobs on the fire ground to keep me busy.

So, that's my dad. He's an amazing athlete and a loyal and thoguhtful friend. And, a wonderful dad:)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Regular Stuff & Life

We realized that we haven't blogged since Halloween, how did that happen? Regular life got in the way I guess. What does regular life look like and what have we been up to? We'll start at the top...

Tom has been super busy with his United Way special project (figuring out how to market to for profit companies that have a community based focus - for example; Tom's shoes is a for profit company that donates 50% of their profits to the community) as well as getting more involved with his board work with Gift of Adoption. He is also tutoring 1st grade math on Wednesdays (counting backward and skip counting is harder than you'd think) and has been fighting off the leaves in our yard and all the fall house work that seems never ending. He also made a huge batch of wine that should be ready just in time for New Years:) Finally, he spent the day taking our good friends Radha and Krishna around the twin cities. They are moving here in February on a 2 year work assignment and he made daycare, school, townhouse, etc appointments for them so that they can get a lay of the land. Little do they know that we are angling for them to life swap with us when we move to Canada, so he was laying the ground work:)

Tracy is crazy busy at work and is SUPER thankful that Tom does the needful at home. We are on a full on sprint to opening our 1st stores in Canada and there will be no rest for the weary until 2013. She is also trying to do her share of cooking, homework with the kids while keeping up with the 3 mile daily walks that Nikki needs. She's asleep 30 seconds after her head hits the pillow every night. We did get a good 11/11/11 fix in last week. We watched Oceans 11 and toasted each other at 11:11:11pm. (11 is Angela's favorite/superstitious #, she only sets her alarm clock in numbers divisible by 11, so needless to say, it was a big night).

Jimmy has started basketball warm ups (drills, skills, etc) and is now playing in a band. They are playing lots of Bruno Mars and Foster the People. He seems to be having fun and the other kids don't seem to notice that he's 3-4 years younger than the other kids. He's still in piano and drum lessons and is obsessing about Christian Ponder. He's in a fantasy football league and has been picking the football picks in Tracy's weekly football pool at work. He may just win this week. I think he's grown again, he's skinny at 105 lbs, size 8 men's shoe and 5' 2". its crazy! He's also needs to read and write a book report on 20 books this year in order to 'win' a trip to Mall of America in May. He just finished his 10th book. Never say the kid cant be motivated by bribery.

Kay is in gymnastics, piano and girl scouts. The latest addition to her activities is cheer leading (god help us) and is selling candy bars to raise money for the group. Her goal is to sell enough to get a free set of pom poms. She can now do a front handspring and can play Ode to Joy on the piano. We are on night 7 of her sleeping the WHOLE night in her own room. I think this is the 1st time this has happened in 8 years. She came up with a motivation chart for herself and she's following it. If she does it 14 nights in a row, she earns a trip to the beauty salon. As she said yesterday "this systems working pretty well, don't you think?" We agree! Its amazing how much nicer we are when we've all had a good night sleep. She's pretty amazing.

Billy is in gymnastics and just finished a 3 week basketball warm up himself. Imagine 15 6 year old boys learning basketball basics. (think squirrels chasing a ball) He's also in a 4 week Lego class at school and declared "I'm never going win a prize". Thinking he was just being negative, we tried to talk to him about it. Then, we realized, he really is never going to win a prize since, to win a prize, you have to be the 1st one to listen and pick up. Not Billy's strong suit as he doesn't want the Lego fun to end. He's reading and is a math whiz. He cant wait to turn 7 (12/11) and we've been busy planning and re planning his birthday party (who to invite, where to go, what toys he wants) its pretty fun.

Nikki and Timmy are fine, lots of walks, treats and mauling by the kids.

Overall, regular life. Fun, hectic, crazy and full of everyday funny little adventures.

Here's a good example of a "normal" Friday night http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-glEitjSxE

"till our next big adventure...


Saturday, November 05, 2011

Happy Haddaween!

As Jimmy used to say "Happy Haddaween!" Last weekend was full on Halloween madness. It started Friday night when we took them to Target to pick out their costumes and buy candy. Word of warning - Friday night before Halloween is a little late to start getting ready. The good news? all costumes were 75% off, the bad news? we got what we got. In the long run, everyone was happy. Billy was a storm trooper, Kay a vampire and Jimmy, Stuy from The Family Guy.

Kay and Billy Treat or Treating with their BFF, Ella and Cole.

More Trick or Treating, they bagged about 10lbs of candy. Kay had to come home when she sprained her arm from carrying such a heavy bag. She hit the jack pot at 1 house when she rang the door bell, the Mom said "ok, we just decided, the next kid to ring the door bell gets all our candy - we are shutting down for the night". Then, she proceeded to dump a WHOLE bowl of candy into Kays bag

Eating along the route to keep energy up.

Billy - storm trooper

Jordan stopped by for some treats

Our pumpkins, the kids each designed their own, from left, Kay, Billy and below - Jimmy's


Trick or treating at the strip mall by our house on Sat afternoon. Another haul.

Carmen as a cowgirl and Kay

Kay - vampire, cat, witch - you decide

At the school fall festival - there was a costume parade, treats, games, fire trucks, and a pancake breakfast. I sugared start to the weekend.

Sean as Lugi - last year he was Mario. He cracks us up.

Jimmy and Kay

kay with her best vampire, devil impersonation

Billy ready to conquer the world

Jimmy is noticably missing. Now that he's 10, he's too cool for school and went trick or treating with his BFF Ben in Ben's neighborhood so we are woefully short photos of him. Next year...maybe....

Happy Haddaween!!!!