Thursday, October 31, 2013

I'm not changing my swing, Gummy worms and another strong showing in TKD

OK so each of the kids has begun to settle into school, extracirculars and the normalcy of life if you use that word when discussing the Loudamericans.....

Jimmy has really taken to school, studying and being responsible , which we really appreciate and just when we started to think "wow maybe he gets it" we find out he is in another competion of sorts. The kid excels whenever he is challenged or when he sees a chance to compete. Turns out at school there is a student of the month award, for the student that excels in the classroom, goes above and beyond around school, turns all their homework in and on time, you know the new millennium of teachers pet. Jimmy wants that distinction!! Hence the drive to get his work done. Now, being competitive is great on the sporting field and trying to convince your child to take that same competitiveness into the classroom is hard to do and that he has gravitated there all by himself tells us we are doing a great job!
He also is trying out for every team he can. (remember, he's a team kid) last year there was a teachers strike and there were no after school sports, which caused a student strike (see post from Dec 2012)Anyway he made the 7 & 8 grade softball team. They had practice after school in preparation for playing in tournaments. The way it works is that of you win the first tournament then your team keeps going and the goal is to play in the all city championship. So after going to practice and complaining about not hitting the ball, we suggested to the lad that perhaps he should adjust his swing for softball as it is under hand and slow pitch, to which he replied, rather vehemently, " I worked all summer on my swing and I'm not changing it for softball, no way"
Needless to say the team did not advance past the first tournament. He is now trying out for volleyball and just found out that even though it is a 7th & 8th grade team, the coach has decided that since the current group of 8th graders did not get to play last year ( because of the strike), and that the 8th graders are taller than the 7th graders, he is only going to pick 8th graders to play on the team. Jimmy's response " Coach that doesn't make since for a couple of reasons, one that means that next year the 7th graders won't be able to play because you will only pick 8th graders and  I am taller than all the 8th graders except for one?" Perhaps another student strike is imminent?

Kay on the other hand has been rolling along biding her time until Halloween, but more on that later. She has been working extremely hard at gymnastics and recently decided to try her hand at acro and dance. Yep she wants to sign up for dance lessons and acro lessons, acro is like advanced tumbling of sorts while dance is well dance, rhythm, beat, in sync things that well gymnastics is not, just making a comparison. She also has taken to putting on this crazy Thing 1 & Thing 2 costume at night she says ' it keeps her warm", which I for one can  understand as it is in the mid-40's outside while in our house it is a mere 62, just saying. Of course she can't go more than a day without trying to create some food related masterpiece. The kids in her class have come to expect, yes expect, her to show up at least once a week with some kind of homemade treat, of the sugar kind, and of course she can't disappoint. She is planning a quite elaborate Halloween treat, which of she actually cleans her room for once she may be able to make, sorry, this creation will consist of chocolate pudding, gummy worms, Oreo cookies and graham crackers, more on that later... She's also joined French club. Why? Because they get to go to a French restaurant at the end of the year:).

Billy is just plain and simply loving taekwondo  ( TKD). He is moving though the belts like Bruce Lee and we are super proud of him. He just competed in a huge tournament and came in second place in both pomsae and sparing. The video below shows him doing the pomsae portion, watch the other kid....he sort of forgets where he is. Poor guy. Billy is now a green belt with a blue stripe and working hard to get to the next level.

Last week Billy and his class went to this cool place called Pioneer Village, which is a historical landmark here in Toronto and Tom volunteered. The class goes to the school there for the week and re-lives what it was like to live in Pioneer times. The kids from Billy's school, Cameron, are the only kids in the city that actually get to do this so it is really special. They all dress up in period outfit's, as all the people in the village do, the class is conducted in the same manner, girls on one side boys on the other, the kids have to stand up when called upon and answer the question asked and sit back down when the teachers asks them to, it was really fun! The kids brough their lunch in baskets and galvanized pails and wrote on the big blackboard with chalk. They visited different buildings like the blacksmith, tinsmith, printers, doctor and even a general store.

So with all this going on it is no wonder that Nikki needs some serious rest!
Next up Halloween more to come.......

Friday, October 25, 2013

Sandy, cousins, Candain Thanksgiving and a visit from Grandma Kay

Wow what a blessing we had with our friend Sandy visiting from Minneapolis, Frankie, Lucy, Grace and a visit from Grandma Kay all at the same time, Oh and Thanksgiving, Canadian Style...

Sandy is a dear friend and we figured out (or Jimmy did) by asking her how long she has known Tracy that its over 20 years! She comes to all of our crazy family events, loves dogs and had to come visit us in Canada, well because she's family! She arrived on Friday afternoon and we spent the next few day's catching up, showing her the sights around Toronto and eating really good food! which is yet another thing we have in common!

The kids schedule (as usual) over took the whole weekend with an make up football game for Jimmy on Saturday, which was not supposed to happen, then taekwondo training for Billy, who has an upcoming tournament (more on that in the next installment). Meanwhile, Kay was free of gymnastics for the weekend and helped Tracy as her Julie McCoy for the day at the local high end mall, scary! We had a traditional smoked salmon dinner for Sandy which is on of her favorite's and then on Saturday night after the madness of football, Jimmy and Tom met the rest of the crew at GUU, another awesome food experience!

Sunday was yet another football day with Jimmy and the team heading west to Guelph while the rest of us headed to the airport to pick up Grandma Kay! She arrived without issue and we all headed out to watch the football game, which was a 55 to 6 victory for Jimmy and the Grizzlies. We showed Grandma and Sandy around the town of Guelph complete with a quick stop at the first Target store to open in Canada (really the very very 1st one that opened!), eh! Dinner was this yummy Portuguese seafood stew type thing that Tom has mastered over the years along with crusty bread and the day was complete. We all headed to bed after a great day and it was super nice to have Grandma Kay in the house :).

Monday was a day off for everyone as it was Thanksgiving! Tom put the turkey on the smoker around 7:30am and the rest of the day was full of laying around and wishing there was football to watch.
We had a nice breakfast and went for walks, the kids spent time with Grandma Kay, there was a neighborhood baseball game and then the cousins arrived! Frankie and the girls along with Frankie's friend Jen. We had a blast making a traditional meal, smoked turkey, Grandma Kay's famous potatoes, sage stuffing, green beans and the ever popular 70’s throwback ...7 layer salad, and a canned cranberry jelly thingy along with biscuits and dessert! Perfect!!! Frankie and the girls brought along dessert. We all shared what we are thankful for and concluded that we are all very blessed!

Tuesday was back to reality, Tracy headed out early for work, the kids to school and Sandy to the airport and back to Minneapolis. We were super happy to see her and thankful she made the trip!
Tom and Grandma Kay spent the day exploring North York and the city we live in and Kay got to experience her first Shawarma, which if you don't know what is well, you'll have to come and find out! Grandma spent the evening watching Kay at gymnastics for the first time in her competitive team
and then it was dinner and bed.

Wednesday was a bonus day for Tom (well sort of) as Kay - the younger - complained of an ear ache and stayed home from school, which may be a deliberate move on her part to spend more time with her names sake, Who can blame her!? Tom was able to spend the day with his two favorites Kay's, what a treat! We explored downtown Toronto, the water front, Lawrence Market, along with a quick stop at George Brown so Grandma could see where Chef school is and the a yummy spinach pizza lunch, quite a great day!

Wednesday night Grandma watched Billy prepare for his upcoming taekwondo Tournament and we had another culinary delight, Lemongrass Curried Chicken, Mushroom Rice Pilaf and asparagus. We celebrated Grandma's birthday complete with presents and homemade strawberry shortcake from Kay to grandma Kay, very cute!

Thursday was bittersweet as we said goodbye to Grandma Kay. We had an awesome time showing her around our town, spending Thanksgiving together and having Grandma watch all the kids in their different sporting endeavors. Thanks Grandma Kay for coming and seeing us and making the long trip!
We love you , we bless you and were glad you were here!
more to come.....

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A quick lunch Fix

Kay was hungry the other day and asked if she could make her own lunch, why not we said, the result:

First cut a piece of watermelon into very tiny bits and repeat with an Asian pear.


Next heat sesame oil and olive oil and butter in a pan and add a ½ cup cooked rice and stir fry.


Meanwhile bring water to a boil and add spiral pasta and boil until done.

While the pasta is cooking melt as much Philadelphia cream cheese you can find, in a pan along with a generous helping of 35% cream and butter with a small amount of olive oil, mix until well melted.

Add salt and pepper and then steal as much Parmesan cheese as you can until your dad yells at you because he needed the cheese for another dish, then when he goes to talk with your brother, steal one more handful and melt it in the sauce so he won’t know.

Serve the pasta, rice and fruit on a plate with separate containers add salt and devour like you have never eaten before

Friday, October 11, 2013

Kids Update

Well, things have been moving along with the normal crazy pace around here. School, sports, friends, work, neighborhood gossip and all.

Billy has been pursuing TKD belts with abandon and I for one am not sure what the protocol is for the old belts? Fold them up and put them away, nail them in all the glory to the kids bedroom wall or just leave them in a closet? Whatever I should figure out what to do with them because we now have another discarded belt, a green one which was traded in for a green with blue stripe. Billy was in a tournament a week or so ago and won 3rd place out of all the other green belts and we are super proud of him! He came back from the tournament and then tested for the aforementioned new belt. It becomes a bit confusing when one goes from the old belt to the new belt in terms of when do they actually become the user of the new belt? meaning Billy has another tournament coming up on the 25th of October and even thought he is now a greenbelt with a blue stripe he will be competing in the tournament with his old green belt, see what I mean? Either way we have a bunch of belts and are super pound of Billy an his accomplishments!

Kay has been excelling at gymnastics and is practicing so hard that her unconscious has taken over her eating habits, I mean the word carnivore comes to mind, the kid has become a protein eating machine! Her first competition is not until February and by then watch out! In the mean time she decided that cross country would be a fun thing to try? You know running a mile or so just cause you get out of school for one day, Hey why not. There were about 330 5th grade girls from around the area (yes 330 5th grade girls, yikes!) that competed in the TDESAA cross country event, I have no ides what the letters stand for but I am guessing the T is for Toronto. Kay came in # 155 not bad for no practice and running without socks in a pair of pink and black shoes! As well as, we had to remind her that winning was the goal. Her response "oh yeah". We are proud of her tenacity and fearless approach to her choice of sporting interests.

Jimmy has been playing up to his old ways in football, creating openings in the line for his running backs, running patterns from his spot as tight end and even causing a fumble or two and making sacks on special teams and from defensive end. The coaches are now working with him to take his game to the next level, meaning instead of just working the play the way it is written, they are encouraging to  start reading the field and making decisions based on what he sees not just what they play say's. He is starting to understand the concept but putting into play, so to speak, is not that easy. The coaches are hoping over the next three games he can grasp the concept and if so it will make their play off fun all the better. In the last game they let Jimmy be the kick off return guy and he did a great job. Not he only had one kick off but he caught the ball tucked in and ran for about 15-20 yards, didn't stop when he hit the pack took a big hit got up and said " that's how we do it round here"! The clip below shows his run, it is a bit hard to see but if you follow the ball in the air it will land in his hands.
We are proud of Jimmy's tenacity and his devotion to his team, his friends and his family!
more to come....

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Now thats some good Vittles!!!

This past weekend we were able to get an overnight sitter and we were off to points unknown, well at least to Tom.
Tracy surprised me for my birthday with an overnight adventure and I had no idea, where, what only the when.
We pack a duffel and headed about 2 hours north and west of Toronto. There is this very special place where all foodies and food enthusiasts must visit, however there are  couple of caveat's, 1: photos are very personal use only not to be published on the Internet and 2, no vegetarians, pretty simple. So in keeping with tradition I am only going to break one of the rules, and since this blog is our personal space I will claim writers privilege/prerogative  and post a couple of pics :).

The place is known as Eigensinn Farm and it is own and farmed by a world renown and very nice guy named Michael Standlander.The place has pigs, ducks, turkey's and other assorted farm animals wandering around. The path to the dining areas was paved with wine bottles from past diners and the trees were full of inspirational signs, overall a very interesting place! we were greeted by the farm dog, a very friendly herding kind of a fellow who knew his way to the food!

The setting was a picturesque valley with sunflowers planted in a circle around the valley, a tee pee, and three log pole type structures with tin roofs and no walls, no electricity and no running water which added to the overall serenity of the place. The menu for the diner was;
Oysters, amuse, beef consomme with braised oxtail ravioli, white fish, lobster broth, farm duck, sorbet, fresh farm pork and garden vegetables, cheese dessert and petite fours.
The directions from the kitchen were: the event is outdoors but we have a roof. Good walking shoes and please dress according to the weather.

So with all that in mind off we went. We arrived at 3:55 checked in to the Pretty River Valley Inn and at 4:00 were in the shuttle to the diner, it started promptly at 4:15 and if are were late you missed out simple as that, Germans are a punctual lot! You may be wondering, as we were, with no running water what if one needed to use the washroom? The answer was a one seater composting outhouse complete with wood chips and a shovel, along with hand sanitizer and the coldest water out of a bucket ever, lights you ask, that's what the flashlight app on your smart phone is for!

After dinner we were then picked up by the shuttle and returned to the Pretty River Valley Inn, to find a warm wood fire waiting for us our room and we watched a silly Indian film about cooking to keep things in line with the night!
There were several cool aspects to the PRI, the fireplace in the room, Reindeer, yes real Reindeer hanging out waiting for the snow so they could get back to work!

We had a nice breakfast at the PRI accompanied by there two little dogs both of which made sure there was no need for a vacuum!

There were about 16 of us lucky diners and we had an incredible meal full of interesting conversation and eclectic food was an awesome surprise that Tracy found this and we were able to go it was a very Happy Birthday!
Thanks Tracy, I love you!!!