Monday, August 29, 2016

and ... so starts another school year

The last week has been crazy. All the last minute end of summer bucket list items ...

Jimmy - football football football - he kicked butt in his 1st 9th grade scrimmage (4 sacs, 5 tackles and caught all balls through at him for yardage, even when double teamed) and even made an appearance in a JV scrimmage. He's got all his shoes finally ordered and arrived. Thank god he loves them. (getting new tennie's as a 15 yr old boy is quite the process, believe me ...)  

Kay - besides gymnastics ... campfires, the state fair and packing (and repacking) her school supplies. The girl certainly loves to shop, even if its just for pens/pencils and snacks.  We are loaded for bear.

Billy - taekwondo and LOTS of bike riding and park visiting with friends.

And ... Ian - we managed to get him registered for school, hooked up with his chromebook, went back to school shopping, tried out for soccer (didn't make it:() decided to do cross country, bought running shoes (see above comment on Jimmy) and memorized student id #'s, bus schedules, etc. We even managed a trip to the lake for some swimming.  Ian has never swam or been in a lake before, but ... as we are finding, he's up for trying anything and did a great job wading up to his knees the 1st time out. 

They all opted to take the bus today and were up and at 'em at 6am.  AND, in pretty good moods (which is shocking for those with teenagers). Noone was nervous or anxious for school. Only Tracy. She couldn't sleep and is still worried about how they are all doing with their new teachers, classes, etc.  Even Tom had a full day of training today for his job at the grade school.  Dinner tonight should be fun, love hearing their stories.       

Really proud of this group. The are adventurous, kind, engaged and eager learners. Let's hope it lasts all year:)
Billy - 1st day of 6th grade - Meadowbrook
The Gang - from left to right .. Anders 9th grade, Jimmy 9th grade, Kay 8th grade, Bjorn 7th day - all Hopkins North Jr High - Ian 10th grade Hopkins High School   
BFF Anders and Jimmy

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Welcome YunSung!! (aka Ian)

For Jimmys birthday, he got .... (drum roll) a foreign exchange student!!

Actually, it was coincidence that the newest member of our family arrived from South Korea last night.


A week ago Tracy saw a posting on Facebook looking for a host family for a 15 yr old boy from South Korea who would be attending Hopkins High School (10th grade) and who's host family had a family emergency and couldn't take him in. They needed some one to host for 6-8 weeks until more permanent hosting could be arranged.  In typical digital fashion, she just scrolled by the post ... but also in typical Tracy fashion, it stuck in the back of her mind. We talk about it as a possibility on Tuesday night (cant help thinking this kid needs a good place to land!) and called the agency on Wednesday to learn more. We talked with the kids that night and had to make a decision! We said "yes" and were off  and running with 4 day so prep, paperwork, training, house rearranging and all the things that come with welcoming a new person into your life with 4 days notice:)

He landed up last night and it was fun. Our 1st stop was a McDonalds drive thru since Jimmy came straight from football practice and hadn't eaten.  It was his 1st time in a drive in and Tom/Tracy wanted to take a photo but the kids were mortified. His 1st real American experience and he'd only been on the ground 2 hours!!

We got home, showed him the house, his room, etc. Nikki was a bit of a shock to him due to her size and the fact that she was staring intently at his burger. Not to mention she really wanted him to pet her.  I think she'll slowly win him over as I did see him petting her this morning when she went in to say good morning.    

His 1st question was "what should my English name be?" so Kay helped him look up English names and he's chosen Ian. We'll see how that sticks.

We've moved him into Billy's room and Billy into the extra bedroom downstairs.  He rearranged his room, which is great if it helps him feel more at home . 

He's registered for school but we still need to take him to the High School to get his class schedule, locker, supply list, load his lunch account and sign up for any activities/sports (maybe soccer?)

I'm not sure he slept much last night (jet lag) and I think our main activity will be getting him to stay awake for the next few days to get over the time zone difference.  

I cant even imagine how overwhelming this all is - long flight, new home, new people, language change, routine change, cultural change, time change, food change .... he's one resilient kid!

And, sending his parents all our good thoughts and wishes!  What brave and loving parents to support him as he moves 1/2 way across the world for his sophomore year of high school. Not sure we could do it. 

We promise we'll take care of him....  


Monday, August 22, 2016

New hair, new clothes, learners permit - watch out world, Jimmy is 15!!

Holy cow, 15 ... We have no idea where the time went!!  

Jimmy recently took drivers ed (classroom) and passed his test to get his learners permit. He is now able to drive with a +21 yr old driver in the car - anyone interested? :)  He's actually quite thrilled and needs to get in 40 hours of behind the wheel and behind the wheel drivers ed in before he turns 16 in order to get his drivers license. Thank god we have a full year, not sure we are ready for this.  For a fun video of his 1st spin in the car, check it out.  Note that the blinkers and hazard lights are all on.  He couldn't figure out how that happened:)

Football is also in full swing and he's thrilled. Last week was 2x a day practices and he's been "running with the JV" as he says. He's the only tightend on the 9th grade team and has a good chance of playing up for the JV as well.  The coach said he has really good/talented kids in each position but not a lot of depth. Hope no one gets hurt and that it means extra playing time for Jimmy. So far, he's only played offense but he's also hoping he lands a linebacker spot.  The 1st game is next week, fingers crossed and Go Hopkins!!

School starts next week and he's excited for his classes, of course that will change based on who is IN his classes and once he actually gets to school but ... for now, we are in the anticipation stage of the school year.  (god help us the 1st week when we have to get him/Kay up at 6am for the bus, they've regularly been sleeping to 11am.  Culture shock at its worse).

Jimmy continues to be a talented musician, good friend, dedicated athlete, coachable kid and serious student.   He's got a great sense of humor and pays attention to everything.  He's got a great group of friends between sports, the neighborhood and school and I think 9th grade will be the "year of Jimmy".

For his birthday, we celebrated with Sue (of course) and besides the excitement of presents, the big activity was dying his hair.  Blond. He wanted to look like his hair just naturally lightened in the sun but I think he looks more like a K-pop star (Korean Pop Stars are called K-Pop).  He loves it.

And we love him. Thank god for his birth parents, foster parents and the village that we've had in the US, Korea, India and Canada helping us bear witness to this wonderful human being.  XXOO we love you Jimmy!!

Here are some pictures to take you back ....


Friday, August 12, 2016

Summer Loving Had me a blast....

The Murphy's and the Orvedahl's descended on the north woods of Minnesota with a bunch of board games, fishing poles, s'more stuff and a plan for swimming, outside fun and making summer memories.

The area around Park Rapids was the destination spot and we found an awesome cabin that was actually big enough for all 10 of us. There were 4 bedrooms and a huge walk in closet that Kay turned into bed room, a really nice kitchen two different decks, a fire pit and a pontoon boat, look out Potato lake here we come!

Day 1:
We spent traveling up north and getting the cabin situated for the week. Then if was off to the store, bait shop along with getting the boat ready, making beds and the all important discovery, the wireless password! A round of applause went out from the kids when they were all successfully re-connected to the mother ship. We then loaded the whole group onto the pontoon for an early evening joy ride to discover the lake, make a couple of trial casts and generally relax on the lake.

Dinner was a BBQ feat of burgers, chicken sandwiches, corn on the cob, corn salad and watermelon. Tom being the cooking geek was impressed with the serving table, simple things. We then hung out and played the first of many board/card games of the week.

Day 2:
We headed out to go fishing and caught several fish and several different species, the crew used several high end presentation techniques to best the fish ( basically a bobber and a leech) but the fish fry was looking good!
We had the worlds largest bag of pancakes and had we made all of them it think it would have amounted to about 500! Bacon which goes with everything we also had in abundance! Swimming filled up most of the afternoon until it was time to try and fish again. The try part was on account of the boat, well more specifically the motor, which we had a hard time getting started. It seems this motor would love to fire up and drive you away from the dock, it just did not want to bring you back, so frustrating. If you are boat mechanic, marina owner or rent water craft in the Park Rapids your name must be Jeff. So the boat repair guy, Jeff came by and basically did nothing but disconnect the emergency alarm on the steering column and said let me know if it gives you any more trouble? The boat was the only unreliable part of the cabin and somehow we managed to get back home.

Day 3:
We headed out to the local " Theme Park" which included water bunker boats, rope climbing, go-carts, at which Billy came from behind to take the checkered flag, laser tag, and of course ice-cream treats ! There was a fair crowd all trying to perform somersaults and various other tricks on the rubber band/ ropes game however Kay took the show as usual with most people just staring at her..gymnasts are used to this kid of attention! We headed back to the cabin for a pasta fest and fire featuring of course s'mores.

Tracy had to head back to Minneapolis for a couple of meetings so she headed out just after lunch meanwhile; we took delivery of a 500cc jet ski.   0-60 in under three seconds, it was super fast.
We parked the pontoon in the cove for a docking station and proceeded to see how fast we could get the jet ski going and live to tell about it. Perhaps the favorite event of the week and by the end of the 4 hour rental we were all jet-skied out!

Day 4:
Tracy returned in the early afternoon and we spent the day fishing cooking hot dogs at the fire for lunch and other various cabin things like ..making about 50 macaroons and cannolis...for the special dinner celebrating Doug and Jennifer's 23rd wedding Anniversary, several types of kabobs and rice pilaf rounded out the dinner. A fun game of Catch Phrase was next up, Sam claimed " apples to apples will suck the soul of the weak"

Day 5:
Tubing down a river should be on everyone's bucket list. PSA: For anyone reading the blog Tracy will soon be launching her new business the name has yet to be revealed but the topic of the business is " teaching teenagers how to pay attention and be aware of the surroundings"...we will be kazillionaires! So as we set out, the guide, who needs a course in customer service, told us to get out of the river at the first bridge and walk back along the highway till you see your cars, really!?! Well Jimmy and James decided to float out on their own and then Sean had to join them. Meanwhile the rest of us were strapped together like a floating party barge, slowly making our way toward the "bridge".  Two and a half hours later we finally sighted the bridge and of course we got out,. But wait, the teenagers?  Ray of hope, maybe the walked back to the cars, along the highway? We arrived back at the outfitters and sure enough the boys were not there. Fortunately this happens all the time when they give teenagers tubes so the guide had a plan and about 30 minutes later the boys were reunited with their angry parents, all good!

Day 6:
No buy in from anyone on the days plan, so parental edicts were issued and off to Itasca State Park we went, the headway of the mighty Mississippi! No tad poles could be found, several frog sightings and several really poorly maked trails later we were enjoying ice cream at the snack bar. The park is super huge and very well kept, they even rent cabins, maybe next year!
We headed out to dinner for our last night and even caught a bit of the opening ceremonies, however the kids were more interested in playing pool, which none of them were remotely any good at, really the were awful. IT was entertaining for the parents however.

The week flew by, we all had a blast even with the major electrical storm where the lighting blew out the transform right out our back door! Sam woke up Doug and Jennifer at 2am and said " get up we are leaving right now there is no power!" Jimmy, a bit more even keeled,  just wanted to know at 2:00 am if he could still use the toilet? It was an amazing lightening light show and thunderstorm. Very impressive!

We had great cabin meals, caught enough fish for a shore lunch, swam everyday, read books, played card and board games and generally had a really good time.

Thanks to Doug, Jennifer, James, Sam& Sean for a great week and tons of great memories!
Can't wait for the next adventure, more to come....