Sunday, February 28, 2010

Olympic Enemies

The strange thing about watching too much a lot of the Olympics is the transient nature of your enemies. Of course we cheer for Canada. We have flags on our van, one on our house and a lifetime supply of Canadian flag face tattoos.

At the beginning, when the 'own the podium' hype had taken over my good sense, I was routing not only for Canada but against the US and Germany, our main competition to outrank us in overall medals.

Then I watched the men's figure skating, where the Yevgeny Plushenko came out of retirement to try to get another gold medal. I was captivated by the skating of American Evan Lysacek and enthusiastically routed for him and against the Russian and his quadruple jumps.

I could not think of rooting for the US in men's or women's hockey. Not only longtime rivalries, but with strong teams, it was nice to think of an upset smoothing the way to gold medals for the Canadian teams. And so I cheered loudly for Switzerland at the men's quarterfinal. Switzerland is such a sweet, neutral nation, easy to cheer for them.

Until they were playing the Canadian women in the semi-finals of curling the next day, and then they became the mortal enemy.

But I was fine with the Swiss doing well in bobsleigh, or luge where the German's tend to dominate. But I routed for the German pair's figure skating team just so the Chinese wouldn't sweep the podium.

I was generally fine with the Dutch taking the medals they could take, but I got tired of those orange skin suits winning all the time in long track speed skating.

The Koreans and Chinese were easy to hate in short track. They were so dominant. Don't ask me how we got any medals there, but we came out with two gold on the last night to add to a collection of silvers and a bronze.

With but one event left, the men's gold hockey final, I'll be cheering for a 14th gold medal for Canada, a record for any nation in a winter Olympics.

Olympic Absense ...

My apologies for my absence from blogging.  We've been watching some hockey (losing here to the USA last weekend)
Husband and I took in a quarter final hockey game.
We rooted for Switzerland to upset the US, and enjoyed a close game that the strong American team was able to win.
We took our tour around downtown for the sights we likely won't see again.
The countdown clock:
The buildings with skins on (in front of a blossuming tree!):
Any yahoo looking a little out of the ordinary instantly has hoards of people lining up to take their photos:
Large screens to watch events scattered through downtown:
And a little Canadian protest. Here is ground zero for the protestors, their tent village.  Peaceful, but present:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Curling Prediction

In gorgeous Vancouver weather, we had tickets to Olympic curling. By a fluke of the ticketing system we ended up with three pairs of curling tickets on three different sessions. So as we wanted to expose the kids to as much of the Olympic experience as we could, Husband and I planned to take each of the kids to a session and the grownups would enjoy  one session.

Now, I know a lot of people think curling is about as legitimate a sport as sun bathing and beer drinking, but in this house we love it. The shooting, the sweeping and the shot making.

Sydney and I were the first to attend the women's curling. Sydney is very good a events boring to mere mortal children. She sat on my lap for significant amounts of time.
She is such an awesome companion. I gave her 1000 kisses on her sweet little face while she sat on my lap, which in light of the cold she came down with a day later, may not have been the best idea.

When she tired slightly of the curling action, she drew the curling rink in her notebook. This took her about 3 ends.
Oh, and the kid has some Canadian spirit. Here she is cheering on the Canadians in the extra end (along with a lot of other Canadians:

Husband and I enjoyed the next session. No Canadians were playing but we enjoyed some high level curling and debated the merits of the come-around versus the in-off. Soaking up the Olympic experience was something to treasure.
In light of Mr. Fetal Position at the Victory ceremonies last weekend, I was not sure about the tolerance of the little boy on his scheduled trip to the rink. We predicted disaster. We tried to talk him out of going, but he promised he would enjoy and not be bored. But, we know this kid is hard wired to boredness.

When he came down with a bad freakin' cold the day before the event, this thing had disaster written all over it. A more tired and cranky and intolerant boy was not exactly conducive to a joyful Olympic experience. The meltdown mania we experienced the night before had Husband and I entirely on edge. And we predicted catastrophe

We loaded up Husband's fanny pack with a notebook, markers, a book, face tattoos, a DS, and candy and crossed our fingers that Jackson could make it through without incident.
Wouldn't you know, when we were expecting the worst, the J Boy loved the curling experience. He asked about the rules, enjoyed the play of the Canadian men scoring a rare 5 stones in one end, and seeing the giant measuring stick coming out once when the human eye could not ascertain which stone was closest. He loved the experience. When the Danes shook hands early due to a commanding Canadian lead, Husband and Jackson snuck out early to get a jump on the crush into transit. Husband barely cracked into his bag of tricks meant to keep the J Boy from noticing how bored he was.

So much for parental predictions.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fantasy vs. Reality

I see other parents living the same life they lived before they had kids. They kayak. They ski. They run marathons. Now I actually didn't do any of these things before kids. My point is that somehow other people can get their 2 year old children to sit in the front of a kayak, or go to a ski lesson for 3 hours or sit in a jogging stroller for 10 km every Saturday morning.

I am so not in their league.

Our lives revolve around accommodating the kids eating, sleeping and recreation schedule. We put them in activities that they like or that we think will be good for them. We are home when they need to sleep and for the most part eat. We didn't envelop them into our former lives. They have enveloped us into theirs.

We have tried to make them avid Vancouver Canucks fans. They will occasionally walk in the room while Husband and I are watching a game on TV and will say "Hey Vancouver is winning!!" So I guess they can read the score. But they don't know what a cross checking penalty is, how good a two man advantage is or what "future considerations" mean in a trade.

I went to a dress rehearsal of the opening ceremonies of the Olympics and the people across the aisle had a baby. Like a fresh one. I think the umbilical cord may have still been attached. When my kids were that age, my only real feat was changing out of my nursing pyjamas and into sweats. I would never have taken them out where we had to stand in a security lineup for up to two hours and then sit through a 3 hour show.

But my kids getting older, I tell myself (and Husband). They can tolerate a few more adventures than we allow them.  So in fantasyland, I thought they are old enough to join Husband and I, admitted Olympic freaks, for a real live Olympic adventure downtown.

So I acquired 4 tickets to a Victory Ceremony. This is a bit of a show (dancing, fiddling, drums and the like), then the handing out of medals and followed by a concert (Nellie Furtado) or as I told the kids a "real rock concert". (we only planned to stay for a little of the concert.) Fabulous family-friendly bonding event.

We went downtown a few hours before the Ceremony on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The 20 minute train ride was a big hit. The kids were really in the spirit and brought their Olympic mascots.
We went to see the Olympic flame and enjoyed the crowds. We did not entertain standing in long lineups to visit any of the beer tents pavillions. We knew our limits. Or rather the kids'.

Instead we opted for overpriced Chinese food at a food fair. Then, in good time, we headed to BC place for the inevitable security sweep we would have to endure. It all went pretty well and the kids tolerated the wait. We did amuse them by taking a lot of silly photos:

And they endured the dancers and singers, even though we could barely see them from upper seats (we did have a little altitude sickness).

But by the time the medals were to be presented, Jackson was done. Seeing the Canadian flag raised TWICE was no inducement to get him to relinquish his fetal position on the sticky floor of the stadium.

I tried to remain calm. And upbeat. "This is a once in a lifetime chance to see Olympic medals given out!" I said cheerily.

"Good, then I won't ever have to sit through this again" he grumped at me.

In reality, I'm not sure the $25 was well spent on his ticket. So much for fantasy.

But we are nothing if not optomistic. He is going to watch an afternoon of curling with Husband on Friday afternoon. He promises he will enjoy it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Olympic Dreams

I was 6 months pregnant with Sydney when the IOC President announced the 2010 Olympics would be in Vancouver.  And here they are. Opening night.

I remember thinking at the time, the kids will be 8 and 6.  Jackson was 18 months and not talking, it was hard to imagine them even talking, let alone talking back to us. 

And here we are.  Who knew they would still let me dress them?
A proud moment:
Some Canadian heroes
And what did the kids do?
Were they riveted to the TV as we were? 
Cheering with a tears in their eyes?
Soaking it up?
Searing these special moments into their memories so they can share it with their children?

Not so much.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Olympics at School!

The kids' school is not immune to the excitement this Olympic season. Even in September every student and teacher made these custom Olympic t shirts. Each one with the owner's handprint:
And yesterday they had their own torch run where every kid ran the torch and handed it to a class mate. They circle the school grounds a few times:
And finally, we had a torch bearer and former Olympian at the school (husband of one of Jackson's teachers). Twas a treat for the kids:
Okay, I was pretty thrilled too!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Olympic Fever

Anyone who thinks the Olympics are a big waste of money or huge inconvenience might want to tune out of my blog for the next 16 days.

We are kind of Olympic freaks when it's in China. Or Japan. So when it's in our backyard, you might say we're a little excited.

I have always LOVED the Olympics. The first Olympics I remember are the 1976 summer Olympics. In Canada.  Montreal to be exact. I was staying with my Grandparents in Winnipeg and watched it all day long. My grandmother used to love watching the weight lifters, I preferred the diving, but all of it was exciting.

In 1980, the year I graduated high school, the Moscow Olympics were boycotted. We studied that ALL YEAR LONG in social studies.  I have watched every Olympics since then.

In 1988, the winter Olympics were in Calgary, a mere 3 hour drive away. I stayed about half the Olympics with friends and soaked up all the atmosphere I could. I thought this was a once in a lifetime deal.  How happy I am to have been wrong.

In 2000 Husband and I were newly married, and the Sydney Olympics were not conducive to the west coast time zone. So we moved our bed to the living room and fell asleep with the TV on, watching and when we got too tired, listening the events.

Today I accompanied Jackson's class to see the torch arrive in our area.  The lighting of the local cauldron happened to be carried by his teacher's husband who is a former Olympian.  It was cold and wet and early and loud but we saw the torch! 

Even if it was on the jumbotron.
You can actually see it on the stage -- that little flicker.