Friday, March 27, 2009

Julia Passes Her Solo Test

For the past couple of months, Julia had been working on her solo program for the Skate Canada StarSkate Preliminary Freeskate test, and on Tuesday, she passed the test! She has now completed her Preliminary and Junior Bronze dance and skills tests, and both portions of the Preliminary Freeskate test. She is going to take some time off skating to concentrate on Track and Field for the Spring, before resuming later in the year. Congratulations, Julia. We're proud of you!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Happy 10th Birthday, Kate!

Our little Kate turned ten today! She had a terrific day, receiving birthday greetings from friends, family and classmates. We all went to her favourite Viet-Thai restaurant for dinner. Happy birthday, Kate!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

March Break in Montreal

The kids had March Break last week, and we spent it in Montreal visiting family. Todd was eager to get a few more skiing opportunities before the season ended, and so we brought our skis along. Our first stop was at Beryl's and Rob's house, where we always get a warm welcome! The girls were happy to spend time with their cousins, Emma, Amanda and Olivia, who is reading her new Dora books with Julia and Kate in the photo above. We had a terrific day at Mont Avila. Rob took Todd and me skiing, while Beryl took all the girls snow tubing, and the evening ended with an excellent meal at a local gastro-pub.

We had an opportunity to ski again later in the week, at Bromont. Bromont's a great place to ski. It's a large resort, like Tremblant, but slightly less expensive and definitely less glitzy. There are enough challenging runs to satisfy Todd, and there is enough variety in the easy runs for me. Though the snow was rather slushy, both ski days were sunny and warm.

Being on vacation, I didn't keep up with news, and it was only after we returned that I heard about the death of Natasha Richardson at Tremblant. I was somewhat shaken by this, having done that same run a number of times. The Nansen run is a beginner run, but when I was on it in February, there were some very icy sections. However, we ski with helmets, and being the worrying type, I always insist on a trip to the doctor after a head injury. Our family seems to be prone to this, as we've had three (non-skiing) incidents in the past few years, with two requiring stitches. Maybe we should wear helmets all the time ....

We spent the second half of our March Break at my parents' house, where we had fabulous Chinese food. My mom cooked my favourites, including steamed lobster (also Julia's favourite), braised mushrooms, and stir-fried greens. We joined my cousins Teresa and Leo for dim sum, but unfortunately, their kids were in school, as Quebec students get March Break earlier in the month. We rounded out the week with the inevitable clothes-shopping trip, a walk through the McGill campus (a futile attempt to inspire Julia to pay more attention to her studies) and an afternoon at the Biodome, a nature museum housed in the velodrome originally built for the 1976 Olympic Games.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Film Club: Round 1

For round 1 of our film club, Julia chose the recently released Passchendaele. Having studied the two world wars at school a number of times over the past few years, she wanted to see this dramatization, but I confess that I am not a fan of war movies. I don't need to watch lengthy bloody battlefield scenes to appreciate the miseries of war. All the same, it was interesting to see a war film made from a Canadian perspective, and I do like Paul Gross, who wrote, directed and acted in this film. Julia said she liked the movie, though she was saddened by the tragic ending.

My choice for the first round was Amadeus, a story about the rivalry between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri, which I'd first watched on the big screen as a teen. Despite having only a tenuous connection to reality, this is a terrific story, with superb acting and a wonderful soundtrack. (How can the soundtrack be anything but wonderful?) Having forgotten about the gruesome first scene, I let Kate join us for this movie. The girls were familiar with some of the music, as Mozart's Magic Fantasy was a car favourite in their younger days. They both enjoyed the movie, though they found the scenes of Salieri dressed as Mozart's father quite frightening. I am sorely tempted to ask Todd to don a black mask and cloak the next time either girl gives us trouble.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Film Club

One of the items on my "101 in 1001" list is, "Read a novel by a Governor-General award winner whose works I've not read before." I checked this off a couple of weeks ago after finishing David Gilmour's The Film Club. I'm stretching the definition of "novel" here, as the book is a memoir about a period in his life spent watching movies with his teenage son. Gilmour, who had worked as a film critic for the CBC, agreed to let his son drop out of high school on the condition that they watch three movies a week.

This was a wonderful read. Many critics pointed out that the novel was not really about the movies, and rather it was about the father-son relationship through the troubled teen years and how to connect with your kid during a period when communication is tough. Living with a teenager myself, I certainly appreciated those aspects of the work, but for me, it really was about the movies! I spent many hours of my own teenage years watching old films from the 30's through the 60's, and Todd and I had, for a number of years, spent our Saturday evenings with Elwy Yost. This man loved movies, and the enthusiasm was contagious. David Gilmour loves movies too, and one day, I'll try to go through his list. (Thanks to John for the link.)

Coincidentally, Julia has lately developed a great interest in films and has, on occasion, asked to see showings at our local repertory cinema. After I told her about The Film Club, I proposed we take turns choosing movies to watch together. The rule was that each person must sit through the other's choice, though we were allowed to express our honest opinion about the film afterwards. We're both a bit apprehensive about this venture. We used to enforce this rule with respect to music CDs on long car trips. As a result, the girls had to put up with a lot of 70's and 80's rock and classical music. Todd and I, in turn, listened to enough Hilary Duff and Miley Cyrus to last a lifetime. We'll see how long our little "film club" lasts, but for now, I'm looking forward to seeing some movies that I might not have selected otherwise.