Friday, December 28, 2012

Merry Christmas!!

What a great Christmas! I hope you all had as wonderful a holiday as we did!

1st up - cocktails and appetisers at our friends Peggy and Rod for Christmas Eve. Tom made his famous Gorgonzola venison roll and there was enough food/drinks for an army. We met even more neighbors, including "the originals". He's 90, she's 88 and they have lived in their house 50+ years. They were super cute and it was fun to here about the neighborhood and Toronto before it was a big city. The kids had a blast too playing pinball and causing general mayhem. Jimmy got the troops going and declared a family sleep over in Billy's room so that they could all wake up and head down to the tree together on Christmas morning. We also skyped with friends over a glass of wine and fell into bed excited for the next day.

Christmas day was a joy. The kids loved all their presents, were nice to each other and there was really limited fighting so...I got my Christmas wish:)  Kays letter to Santa was classic.."Dear Santa, bring me what I like...Love, Kay"

Highlights included:
Billy - Wii and Skylanders starter kit, in fact, his arm hurt the next day from too much Wii:)
Kay - TONs of make up and cooking/baking sets, we even gave Kay a drawer of her own in the kitchen. Watch out!
Jimmy - an alarm clock that projects on his ceiling (go figure, that was his favorite present) and a basketball hoop. (Took Tom and I 2 days to put together the damn hoop, 1st attempt was about 95% done when we realized it was put together backwards. Have you tried to do this in 30 degree weather?!)
Tom - Bruce Springsteen autobiography and new fondue pot
Tracy - DRUM LESSONS and sticks/practice pad - yep, I'm going to give Jimmy a run for his money, I cant wait! Jimmy, of course, is mortified:)
We lazed around all day, played Wii (Dance Disney and Resorts are our personal favorite right now), ate, read books, and oh...put together a basketball hoop. We were able to chat with all our family and it was nice to at least connect virtually.

Then, Tom got busy with a major FEAST for dinner. Smoked turkey, beef wellington, homemade greek/olive break stuffing, mashed potatoes, beans, salad, dessert, etc etc...  Tom, Danica and their 2 kids (Isaac -8 and Nora -6) along with our neighbors Peter and Wendy and their 2 kids (Isaac -2 and Miles - 8 weeks) ate like kings. It was so so yummy! The kids watched Christmas movies, played Wii and everyone cried when it was time to go home.  Ahhh....

Yesterday was our 1st Boxing Day experience (think Black Friday) and I ventured out with the kids as their Christmas money/gift cards were burning a hole in their pockets.  Holy cow, the stores were wreaked!  It was a mob scene but the kids got what they wanted (Billy = more skylanders, Kay = more make up, Jimmy = Madden 13 for his PS3).  I made homemade turkey soup and Tom did a mean fish fry then we all headed downstairs for a dance competition on Dance Disney Wii. Lets just say Billy's got "the moves like Jagger" and handily beat us all! snowed!! YEAH!!! We got about 6 inches of snow and its just gorgeous. Feels like winter break:). The kids went sledding with the neighbors in a ravine behind the school and had a blast.

Then it was off to the Sound of Music Sing-a-long, what a hoot. The theatre was packed and everyone was way into it, there were people in costumes. The best costumes won prizes, Mr. Maria and a nun with a beard!We all received a bag of props and let's just say that we will never view the movie the same again!

It was an interactive experience, including ...booing at Nazis, cheering Maria, quacking when Nun's are on the screen, waving a swatch of fabric and yelling "look behind you!" when she is in her bedroom asking the Captain for get the picture. Super fun and as JImmy said "I didnt know The Sound of Music was so funny!"  Might become our new holiday tradition while in Toronto...

Tomorrow we are heading to Michigan to hook up with my parents and my sister/her family at my parents cottage. We have 2 days of ski school planned and a birthday party for Georgia at an indoor water park on the schedule. Layer on top of that football, skating, snowshoeing, ice skating and sledding and we have a  really fun winter vacation ahead of us.                 

Until next year!! Hope you ALL were with loved ones, enjoying each other and taking care of yourselves.
Peace, love and Happy New Year:)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

holiday concerts

'Tis the time of year for Christmas/holiday concerts and this year the Murphys were in full force.

To start: Cameron PSS: Kays class sang 2 songs "Happy Christmas" by John Lennon and "Do they know its Christmas" by BareNakedLadies.

Billys class did "Jingle Bells" with a little Gangam style action in the middle (he's flanked by his buddies Misha and William)

Then, at assembly, Kay won an award at school "Student of the Month" for Kindness and Caring. We are so proud of her we could burst. We also wish she'd bring some of that home...

Then, we all headed down to the Distillary District for a traditonal German Christmas street festival. It was REALLY cool but not an original idea and Tom/Tracy decided that next year it would be a date night venture. We saw Santa and Jimmy peppered him with questions on if he was "real" or not. Jimmy probably really believed in Santa until about 6 weeks ago but now, with his Grade 6 buddies, is too cool for all that. The hard part is, being as talkative and extroverted as he is, he's ramping up to ruin it for Kay and Billy. Kay has always had her suspicions (remember Christmas in India when she cried "But why is Santa Daddy!?!" and the boys looked at her like she had a 3rd eye.).  Billy thinks Jimmy is crazy and this is one of those times I'm thankful he lives in his own little world.

Then, it was the piano/drum recital with their music school. I love that 80% of the kids are Asian and so much talent! (the non-Asian kids are russian, greek and Indian - not a north american caucasian in sight except for Tom/Tracy - we LOVE how diverse Toronto is!!)  The kids all did great and Jimmy rocked the house and was the only one on the docket 3 times (piano, drums and a band)

Kay played  San Franciso Trolley
Billy played Jack in the Bean Stalk
Jimmy played  Joshua fought the Battle of Jericho on piano,  an original drum solo and his band played "Girl, I really got you now" by the Kinks..

All in all, they all did great! so proud of their courage to stand up and perform:)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

And now the rest of the story...

Billy's Birthday part 2... as it were. Being that OL' Bill's real birthday fell during the week we scheduled the party for the weekend so as not to disappoint the birthday boy and his posse.
Bill woke up having spent the better part of the night on his first " cram session" trying to get his new Lego Creation done, he finished a bit after mid-night and was a tad slow off the draw but it was PARTY time so we got the rally cap out and prepared.

Seems Bill has surrounded himself with like minded or in the this like case, short-term attention challenged, like mindedness and the group of the had a ball. It was a real goat rodeo around the house this morning with who is being dropped off, who are we picking up and who is even coming. The rally started out a bit hectic but when the dust settle everyone was safely inside Chuck E Cheese's with tokens, sugar and games, WHEW!

Billy invited 6 kids from his school along with a family friend, a son of one of Tracy's co-workers, our neighbor Josh and Billy's 2 adorable siblings, really! The group did Chuck's place in grand style and gathered many precious heirlooms of molded plastic that will be cherished for about 10 minutes then discarded in favor of the next best thing.

In all fairness, it was a great birthday party, Billy was on cloud 9 and his friends all seemed to get along. Play-dates and sleep overs on the horizon hugs to all and many thanks were exchanged.

Happy 8th Birthday Billy we love you!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Have cupcakes, will travel or in other words - Happy Birthday Billy!

Yesterday Billy turned 8 and BOY did he have a 10 thumbs up day! 

His day started by a "Happy Birthday Bill" yelled from Jimmy (leaving for school) to Billy (getting dressed in his room).  Tracy went into the work late and had bacon and mandu (Korean potstickers) for breakfast with Billy (his choice).  He was able to open 1 gift (from Nikki) before Tracy dropped he/Kay off for school.  A 3 pack of Hot Wheels "balls" (Hot Wheels cars that somehow fold into a ball - engineering of kids toys these days, I tell you!). The rest of the presents were eagerly anticipated for after school.

In Canada (unlike Golden Valley) are you allowed to bring treats in for your birthday so Billy was VERY popular with this 2 dozen vanilla mini cupcakes. He even managed to contain his excitement/energy of the day and got a green smiley face and "Happy Birthday" note form his teacher. 

Then, post school, it was off to TKD and MORE cupcakes. The stopped the practice session early to sing/wish Billy a Happy Birthday and more cupcakes were passed out. On top of that!! He got his sparring equipment yesterday. This is huge and he's super excited to get even further "into" TKD.

While he was at TKD, Kay was busy making brownies (Billys favorite and another request) for dessert.

We all headed out to a new Korean restaurant to celebrate (again, Billy's choice) and - oh my gosh - we have a new favorite restaurant in Toronto. The food was unbelievable!  As always, the kids ate like we never feed them and there wasnt a grain of rice left when we were done. In a total turn of coincidence, this place has Duk Kalbi - a spicy BBQ chicken dish that we had for the 1st (and only) time in Korean when we picked up Billy 8 years ago. We've been on a constant search for it since but never to any avail. But not now!  We have found it!  It was as wonderful as we remember too. If you come visit, we'll take you, promise!!

Billy opened presents while we were waiting for the food to come and he can hardly wait to build his new Lego set, open his Bey Blades and play with his new games on his new PSP. AND< he's already mentally spent the $ he got as a gift on new games/toys. THANK YOU to everyone that sent notes/cards/gifts. They were perfect!

We raced back home, sang Happy Brithday and ate brownies. Then, off to bed (it is a school night after all!)  He has his kid party on SuUnday at Chuck E Cheese, so no worries, the festivities havent eneded yet:)           

Billy, we love you! We love how analytical, mechanical, kind, funny, crazy, silly, cuddly, loving, caring and special you are.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Long weekend update

Just as we are hitting our pre-Christmas manic stride (why is it always a race to the holidays?!) the Ontario school board gifted us with a 3 day weekend (PA weekend). In all honesty, the school district has a planned 3 day weekend for each month the kids are in school. Not a bad idea, but this one snuck up on us. Actually, that was a blessing in disguise.We took major advantage!

Wednesday night - Billy got his yellow belt!  Go Billy Go! Master Ted says Billy is a very intelligent boy but now, things get serious. Yellow belt is when you really have to buckle down in TKD.  He coached Billy that he'll need to pay even closer attention and not squirrel around so much. It also means badges on your uniform (Canadian flag and Korean flag as well as the patch from the dojo).  The badges take up most of the uniform and I"m not sure where we'll put our US flag and dojo patch when we move back. The patches are adult size on a small kid size uniform. Very cute. It also means he'll start sparring and you ALL know what that means, sparring equipment. To the tune fo a couple hundred dollars, we will soon be the proud owners of full body sparring gear. Size kids small. Very useful indeed. I think this is also the slow slide into competition. We'll see where that lands us but...everyday when we ask Billy what his favorite part of the day is, he answers "Tae Kwon DO!!" So, in for a penny, in for a pound.

Thursday night  - Kays at gymnastics, we have a quick dinner fo pizza/leftovers, take the dog to the doggy daycare and pack up the car. No, we arent leaving her behind (although there were a few occasions on Friday that made us wish we had) we were setting off to pick her up from class and head out of town. Our destination for the long weekend getaway?  Waterloo. Now, for those in the Twin Cities, that would similar to trip to Rochester, garnering a big "WHY?" from all of Tracys co-workers. Our response? Why not?!  We pulled in late and then stayed up later watching cooking shows on 1 TV and sports on the other (the hotel didnt have an extra cot so they comp'ed us an ajoining room - sweet!) Kay and Tracy learned to make the perfect English Christmas dinner (Thank you to the Naked Chef - Jamie whats his name and the Hells Kitchen guy ....)

Friday, we had BIG plans...1st, off to see the Mennonite community and little artisian town for lunch. We walked through the maple syrup and Hardware/Home museum (yep, there is a hardware museum in St Jacob Ontario).  We stopped at a roadside farmers market and bought all our teacher Xmas gifts (peanut and chocolate concoctions) Then, after lunch, it was off to the Waterloo Regional Museum. They had a pioneer village (circa 1914) and we learned all about an English Christmas (continuing with the theme) a German Christmas and a Mennonite Christmas. Every  building we toured there was someone to greet us, in traditional clothes, and talk about their traditions. I think the blacksmith was the kids favorite.  After that, inside to the innovation center. It was cool, lots of interactive activities and some local history/heros.  We actually spent almost and entire afternoon there.

Friday night, what else, but the local playhouse version of Annie. The kids LOVED it and it was actually a really good production with highly talented people. Unfortunately, it ended at 10pm and we hadnt had dinner yet AND all the local places were closed (remember, Mennonite country). Never fear, take out from St Loius Ribs, more Christmas cooking shows and the 2nd 1/2 of a really lame made for TV Christmas movie from the early 2000's.  Once again, up way too late but able to sleep in. Love long weekends...

Saturday we let the kids sleep in, stopped at Tim Hortons for donuts/coffee and were on our way home. Had to get home in time to get Tom to school. Tracy took the kids to Kirons hockey game and then we met Tom, Priya, John, Kiron and Sohanna for dinner at Jack Astors - the ultimate sports bar thats kid friendly (think Champps on steriods).  We subwayed home, were back by 9pm and it gave us just enough time to catch up on the latest episode of GLEE. (yep, we are major Gleeks)   

Now, Sunday is all about homework, piano, drums, lounging in PJ's, Vikings game, etc.  VERY low key day. If we decide to get dressed, I think we'll go get a tree.

Need to rest up - Billy turns 8 on Tuesday:)

Thursday, December 06, 2012

2012n Football Banquet Go Grizzlies!!!

OMG the season that would never end, not to mention it was a great season but it's December for Goodness sake....

Just when you thought the holiday blogs would be upon you with the HO HO HO, football is right back at ya! This past weekend was the much anticipated Football Banquet and the Santa Claus Parade, in that order.

Saturday morning we headed over to the North York Memorial hall for the Grizzlies year end banquet, awards ceremony and the chance to listen to each  pf the coaches go on and on and on.
There are three divisions on the Grizzlies, the Atoms, ages 6-8, who were runners up in the tournaments, the Bantams, 12 and up, who were not and then the Peewees 10-12 and your....(drum roll)  COMFL 2012 Champions! Jimmy was in his element, hanging with his teammates, a little one on one time with the coaches and a chance to go on stage and receive his trophy, and celebrate the first time in 33 years that Coach Clarke was able to yet again raise the trophy in victory. Coach Clarke being a very responsible and level headed person and not to mention THE Coach kept his speech short stating, " you see victory is a circular thing, I won 33 years ago and hope in another 33 years I am standing before you again!" Funny too.

The banquet was all you would imagine, pizza, chicken wings, lasagna, salad dozens of desserts and more, or perhaps you may have imagined something different. The time came to eat and it was 'everyone for themselves', literally the food was attacked like there was no tomorrow and when the dust settles there was more food left than ate and each family brought home an entire large pizza, fun! There were the normal speeches and awards however one that stood out for us was the True Grit Award, given in honor of one of the Grizzle Alumnus who was lost in an army training exercise. The award is not for the best offensive player or the best defensive player or special teams, the award is for the player that shows up practice after practice, game after game, and gives all his effort, every play, practice or game and is their because they love football, now that is an award to aspire too! It has nothing to do with raw talent, its all about passion.  The winner on Jimmys team was JP, his team mate that lost his mom this summer but was at pratice and every game, rain or shine. Seiriously brought a tear to the coaches eye (and ours too!).  Jimmy and we were really proud of all the award winners.

The next day Jimmy and Tom headed off to the parade in the rain, yea you have to love those December rains, brings the brown out in everything. The parade was much more attended than we thought it would be and the kids had a blast. Tracy, Thing 1 & Thing 2 came to cheer the marchers on and we all were treated to really bad pizza and a monstrous fit from Kay, special!

Now if that is not enough, as I mentioned in the previous post regarding the teachers and their love of prop115, they have announced they will strike "sometime soon" (read inbetween the lines:  when it is the most disruptive to everyone). That being said, Jimmy was part of a sit-out/strike, meaning they sat out on the playground after lunch protesting the lack of extra curricular activities. They wanted to make a point and vowed they would stay outside long after the bell rang (got to love big groups of middle school kids). They were fairly focused and the kids were even chanting, "Canada is getting fat and not having extra curricular activism is adding to the obesity", nothing like getting to heart of the matter. The school was fairly supportive and the Principal finally convinced the kids that because it was cold outside they could come into the lunch room and continue their peacefully demonstration there, it went back and forth and finally the kids acquiesced. The kids were respectful, peaceful and focused their strike on the lack of activities not on the teachers. Pretty mature actually.

However once they entered the lunch room the janitor was cleaning up and put the kibosh on the strike stating " The room is already cleaned go strike somewheres else! ( Loosely translated it means  "Stay off my grass you damn kids!")

Jimmy was so amped up the night before: excited, scared, empowered, organized. As a parent it was really fun to see them think and stand up for themselves in a thoughtful way. They are right, they are missing an important part of their school experience, they should express their disatisfaction.  Jimmy was worried about getting expelled, suspended, that we'd be mad, etc... We assured him, if he handled himself respectfully about the topic (not making it personal with the teachers) and stayed peaceful... that we'd actually be proud. And, we were!  What a great 1st experience in expressing yourself and being heard! Little change agents in the making...     Look out WORLD!!

This letter came home in Jimmy's backpack both real and electronic:

November 30th, 2012

Dear Parents/Guardians:

This afternoon, some of our students participated in a demonstration to express their views about the teachers’ response to recently passed government legislation. This demonstration began at 12:15pm continued until 1:15pm.

While some of our students were in the building and attending classes, we did have other students participating in this demonstration. This was not a school or TDSB-sanctioned event. Learning continued in classrooms for the students who remained.

A top priority at Willowdale MS is safety. To that end, staff members that were not in class joined Mr. Bozin and I to monitor students on the back field. This was a peaceful demonstration and students conducted themselves respectfully and responsibly, which is the Willowdale way. The demonstration ended without incident and students resumed regularly scheduled classes.

Yours in partnership,

A. Caccamo M. Bozin

Principal Vice-Principal