Sunday, February 14, 2010

practice makes perfect

Liezel and I made it to the first Olympic figure skating practice session yesterday at Pacific Coliseum. It was cool to be there but it made me sad that I don't have tix to any of the real figure skating events. I checked online today, but the cheapest tix I could find were $225 each for the men's short program and they were obstructed seats in the nosebleeds (at an original price of $50). I think I'll just watch it on TV for that price!

Anyway, we decided to drive to the event for 2 reasons: 1) the session started at 7:00am and I couldn't even comtemplate taking public transportation that early; and, 2) we didn't really know how to get there by bus!

Well, it turned out to be fine. That area is Liezel's old 'hood and we knew where to park. Also, because it wasn't an actual "event", it wasn't that busy. The only problem with our free parking was that it was close to the venue, but once you take into account the limited access into the building, we had to do a bit more walking than expected to get inside the building.

Once inside, I was surprised that the session was sold out. When we got there at 8:15am (yeah, we couldn't even get there on time without the bus!), the place was half empty (it seemed like there were more volunteers than spectators!). Later in the morning, it got pretty full, but it was by no means a full house. It's sort of sad that it was considered sold out and not full because I know there were many people who would have gone if they could have gotten tix.

The session went from 7:00am to 1:00pm and it was a pair's practice followed by a men's practice. Even though we got there late, I think we saw most of the pairs. Since it was a practice, it is not mandatory for the skaters to show, but most of them did. By 1:00pm, they asked us to leave, but the practice didn't end until 2:00pm. So, I think maybe Yevgeny Plushenko was in one of the last practice groups (if he even showed) because we didn't see him.

We managed to see all the medal contenders for the pairs and most of the them for the men. Yes, we saw Dube and Davison as well as Patrick Chan. Most of them ran through their long programs, but did not execute jumps during the program. They practiced those outside of the programs. It was fun to watch and made me miss being on the ice. Practices and competition are 2 different things.

Next weekend, we have tix to another practice session. This time, it's ice dance and women. I can't wait!
It was an early morning for the 2 of us to be out of the house!


Pacific Coliseum looks great!

The Russian pair - Kavaguti and Smirnov

Dube and Davison run through their long program

Catching Patrick Chan mid-jump

Wise words from the coach

Spins are hard to catch a good picture!

Evan Lysacek mid-jump...

...and running through his long program

Practice makes perfect

It was fun being there!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Olympic fever

I'm sure that every Vancouverite with a blog has posted about the Olympics. I've only done one post, but even though I haven't posted much about it doesn't mean that I'm not excited! We're 3 days from the opening ceremonies and I can't wait!

This past Sunday, we went downtown for a friend's birthday dinner. The Olympic celebration has definitely started here! Excitement was in the air and you could really feel that something big was happening. We felt like tourists in our own city!

We live outside of Vancouver proper, but not by much. We're still pretty close. Since we have no Olympic venues in our community, we haven't seen very much change or hype. But today, the torch relay came through our community. It was a beautiful day and thousands of people came out. I guess being on maternity leave has that benefit of being able to go out and celebrate on a Tuesday morning! Erin and I made our way over with just the babies in tow.

When the Olympic torch came through Toronto on it's way to Calgary in 1988, I remember being there. Suzy Higgins was a torchbearer and I went with her sister, Nicole, to watch her. Even that was exciting and the torch was "just passing through"!

I'm excited to be part of this. We hear on the news about the protesters and I've heard many people in the past few months bitch and complain about how "inconveniencing" it is going to be. I just hope all the complainers went out of town because I, for one, don't want them around.

We are hosting the world in 3 days. How amazing is that?!

Checking out the festivities on Granville Street

The Canadian flag at the corner of Georgia and Howe

Georgia and Burrard

Getting the crowd hyped as we wait for the torch to arrive

Go Canada Go!

Charlotte wants to get in on the action

Taking a break to watch the torch come in

I have no idea who the guy was carrying the torch, but I bet he feels proud!

That was my 5 second glimpse of the torch!

Besides seeing it briefly on-stage!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Sorry my posts are so long these days, but it seems that they come few and far between, so I figure I better make it worthwhile when I actually post something!

Yes, the last post was about our impromptu vacation last week and this post is less about our misadventures and more about the great family time we had! We did a little visiting with Jon and Caroline in Seattle; a little visiting with the Sugi clan in Albany; and, we even managed a mini-vacation on our vacation to visit Shabana and Brent in New York City!

We are SO lucky to have family and friends that open their houses to the 4 of us. At three, Josh is not so gear-intensive anymore (we just have to make sure we have some new toys for the plane ride!), but Avery still requires us to pack a punch. I guess I should say that I wouldn't feel like I had all the stuff I needed for her if I didn't bring everything including the kitchen sink! And really, because of my sister's resourcefulness and great friends (!) we didn't have to pack as much as we needed!

Just as an aside: keep in mind when you are travelling by air these days that airlines are now starting to charge for check-in baggage. I thought we were getting a screaming deal flying from Seattle to Albany, but once you tack on the US$140 to get our bags there and back, it doesn't seem like such a great deal anymore! And that was for a mere 3 suitcases for the 4 of us!

So, anyway, I have to mention how thankful we are to everyone for hosting all of our (my) dysfunction. You guys all really made our trip so much easier than I was making it!

I have a whole stack of pictures at the end of this post, so instead of going into great verbal detail about our trip, I'll leave you with some of my reflections:

* Travelling with 2 kids is TWICE as hard as travelling with 1 kid.

* Take time to be tourist in your own surroundings. We don't live in Seattle, but we visit Jon and Caroline often. We don't do many of the touristy things, but when we do, it's always fun.

* When you need to get somewhere in a timely fashion, listen to your gut and not the guy telling you about a shortcut.

* My sister is truly a super-mom. Her typical day involves getting up early to get her 4 kids to school. Then, she works for a few hours (at home as a medical transcriptionist) in the morning until her littlest gets home from kindergarten. She entertains the little one and gets chores done until her second kid gets home from elementary school. At this time, there is usual one (if not more) extra child that comes with her own kid because my sister does after-school care in addition to the medical transcription job. She makes sure the 3 or more kids are fed, happy, doing homework for an hour or so until the last 2 kids get home from middle school. This is when the real fun begins! On any given day, it is now a balancing act getting the kids to dance, tennis, piano, tae-kwon-do lessons, matches, tests and everything else you could throw your child into to insure they grow up to be well-rounded, responsible individuals! Oh yeah: AND she needs to find time to cook and get food on the table so when her famished family gets home, they can eat. I KNOW all you moms out there are impressed. Believe me, I am too!

* Adirondack-country is beautiful. And it's only a couple of hours to get to NYC by train. How convenient is that?!

* When you are on vacation with kids, check to make sure the activities you are doing are kid-friendly. For example, did you know that you cannot tour the Boeing plant in Everett, WA if your child is under four feet tall or if you have a baby that needs to be carried? Also, you cannot take a tour of the UN with a child who is 5 years old or under. This includes babies that are carried in a baby carrier and will sleep the entire time. There are no exceptions.

* I would lose all my baby weight if I lived in NYC. Walking is the best way to get around - it's so great!

* My girlfriend, Shabana, doesn't realize it, but she is a GREAT tour guide for NYC. All the little facts she knows about the city as she shows you the sights are fascinating!

* Vancouver is not a huge city but it's not a small town either. I feel like a small-towner when I visit NYC.

* Next time Bri and I visit NYC, I hope we can leave BOTH kids with my sister in Albany and really see the city! (hint! hint!)

Space Needle in Seattle at dusk

Josh loved to look at the Space Needle from the ground and loved watching the elevator go up, but the actual going up and being up top took some getting used to!

Avery didn't care too much either way - just as long as she was being carried!

We're actually on vacation!

Beautiful view looking out west from the top of the Space Needle

Taking time for some rides at the base of the Space Needle

The little hill in the Sugi's backyard. Cass was a seasoned pro, but Josh, not very experienced with snow, needed a hand with the incline

He managed to pick up this part pretty quick on his own!

And he loved the ride down!

Cass and Tess wanted to do some face painting. Josh takes it to a whole new level!

Cass as a "tiger"

Arriving at Penn Station - in front of Madison Square Gardens

Wall Street - in front of the NYSE

Grabbing the bull by the...

Brian's impression of Vance Munson

Ground Zero today

Brian was relieved when he discovered he didn't have to do without it for a week!

New Amsterdam, Manhattan, New York

Statues amidst building restoration

One of the few times you actually see Avery in NYC!

Brian in Times Square (the New Year's ball is on top of the building with Yahoo)

Target wishes the atheletes luck in Vancouver!

ALL of us took turns with the Avery-carrying

The lights on Broadway

The red steps of TKTS in Times Square

The ice rink at Rockefeller Center

Yet another break to feed Avery

The sign that best describes our trip!

Posing outside the City Grill with Omar the famous dog (?!)

A photo with Brent, Shabana's new hubby!

Avery in her bed at Shabana's

Yes, it IS a dog bed, but it's a tempurpedic bed!

The flag from the UN embassy in Iraq

Posing for a shot outside the UN despite the rain