Monday, March 10, 2014

2014: a year of grace.

As most of you know, I'm a teacher. I went to graduate school for teaching and learned from some great teachers, including Katy Moore. Katy teaches at a high school in Springdale and is an awesome, inspiring, passionate teacher! For 2014, she revamped her blog with the idea of #OneWord2014. She challenged herself and her students to choose one key word to focus on in this year. She chose the word CHERISH (and I have to say, that was a great choice!)

I thought about my own choice for several days and am obviously just now blogging about it, but the word I chose was GRACE. I usually don't blog about serious topics, (see my recent series on Olympic figure skating for proof) but I just felt the need to share about this topic now that it's Lent.

For me, GRACE applies in many ways:
  • I need to show grace to others much more frequently.
  • I need to show grace to myself in my struggles and weaknesses.
  • I need to accept grace from God. The beginning of Lent has been a great reminder of this.
At church the Sunday before Lent started, the priest said, "You wanna give something up for Lent? Give up the guilt!" He was preaching on Isaiah 49:15-16 where God speaks to His people, saying, "Can a mother forget her child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands..." A beautiful promise to remember: we have been given love and grace by God and should therefore extend those gifts to ourselves and others. 





Friday, February 21, 2014

my favorite sport: olympic ice skating part 3

2006
Irina was still around and undefeated leading up to the 2006 Olympics, except for losses to a Chinese girl too young for Olympic competition. Her name was Mao Asada. 
Michelle Kwan wanted to give it one more go… but was injured.
Young Sasha who was fourth in 2002 got out there and nailed the short program

SASSY!!!

Previous gold medalist Sarah Hughes' little sister Emily came in 7th...
Sasha ended up with silver after her long program with a fall.

CLASSY!!!

A Japanese skater took gold, and Irina from Russia was back for bronze.

2010
Ahh, the 2010 winter Olympics – a dark age for female American figure skating. We got 7th from Rachael Flatt (PS: Who are you?!)  and 4th (the saddest rank) from Mirai Nagasu.

2014
This all leads us to Sochi 2014. The US women’s team includes Gracie Gold who won the most recent national championship, 15-year-old-babydoll-angel-face Polina Edmunds who was runner-up, and Ashley Wagner who got 4th at that national championship. But wait! Who had won bronze at the national championship? MIRAI NAGASU! Who had represented us at the 2010 Olympics. Bless her heart; she had one shot. Who else from this tale is competing in Sochi 2014, you ask? Mao Asada! The little girl who was Irina’s only competition back in 2006 and who then took the silver medal in Vancouver in 2010 is back for one last chance at Olympic glory.

2014 Results:
Bronze - Caroline Kostener from Italy whom I am now obsessed with thanks to her classy skating to "Ave Maria."
Silver - Yuna Kim AKA "Queen Yuna" who was the gold medalist from 2010. 
Gold - Russian Adelina Sotnikova. I wasn't even mad about it - she was awesome. Yuna was amazing, too, but Adelina landed more jumps overall and did many elements in the end of her program to get more points. I was happy for her because she had been overshadowed by up-and-coming Russian skater Yulia Lipnitskaya. I think I was reminded all too much of Michelle Kwan being overshadowed by younger skaters and automaticall liked Adelina. 
Shut out: THE UNITED STATES! (Gracie finished 4th, Ashley 7th, and sweet-baby-face 9th) 

So classy!

Too sassy?

So precious.


I guess our dark days continue in US women's figure skating, but as the Olympic optimist I am, I'm going to look forward to South Korea 2018 when Gracie Gold and Polina Edmunds will fight it out for American redemption and GOLD. LYLAS, ladies.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

my favorite sport: olympic ice skating part 2

1998
After all the drama of ’94, Harding and Kerrigan bowed out of skating (with quite different public opinions…) so the scene was set for young, fresh skaters.
My main gurl, Michelle Kwan. Destined for gold in 1998. So close to being on the team in 1994, grown up to a more mature age of 17… ready. 
Watch Michelle's lovely performance here.
Oh wait… little Tara Lipinski was hot on her heels, dominating competitions in 1997 leading up to the Olympics. After the short program, Michelle was in first, but with both girls skating nearly perfectly in the free program, Tara edged her out and SQUEALED LIKE CRAZY IN CELEBRATION. 
I still remember the indignation my 10-year-old self at the time.
Even though I resented Tara beating Michelle at the time, you gotta love seeing 2 Americans on the podium. I'm finally happy for Tara, thanks in large part to her commentary/friendship/fashion with Johnny Weir in Sochi right now.
(Tara really was amazing. Check it out here. )
2002
Another chance for glory comes along. Lipinski had “retired” at her ripe age of, like, 16, so Michelle had been winning national and international championships again. This Olympics was going to be her year!!! She had won everything leading up!!! She was in first place after the short program!!! Watch her amazing performance here.
 
Well... she ended up with bronze after a two-foot landing in the free program. 
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
Silver went to a Russian who was the other favorite for gold.
 
Luckily, gold went to Sarah Hughes, an American and a true underdog who nailed her free skate, though she had never won a US or world title! 

Sidenote: Sarah did not even medal at US championships the next year and then retired. So basically, she’s the opposite of Michelle Kwan who won everything but the gold.

The other US skater at the 2002 Olympics was a young girl names Sasha Cohen who finished fourth… which brings up to the 2006 Olympics...

To be continued soon in the final installment.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

my favorite sport: olympic ice skating.

I haven't blogged in almost a year. Something has brought me back... SOCHI 2014. I love the Olympics. Luckily, I have several amazing friends who share my Olympic passion, and all the recent conversations got me thinking about my long-running obsession with Olympic figure skating specifically. I decided to share this passion with my students. I teach seventh grade, so they were born post-Kerrigan/Harding and post-Kwan/Lipinski. They have so much to learn...

Long story short, I wrote a personal history (thanks to youtube and wikipedia) of the complex relationships, victories, and tragedies in US women's Olympic figure skating since 1994.

Enjoy.

P.S. I am solidifying my nerd status with this report. Over and out.

Here's installment one:

1994
The news footage that started by Olympic figure skating obsession and says it all: WHY?!?!?! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK5F02qiZbs
After the shock, the Olympics came down to gold for Oksana http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_fvrG3f0fI, silver for our beloved Nancy, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PscyRGo6rJQ , and a fitting eighth for Tonya http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbX9EIrunpA.  THE COMMENTARY ABOUT TONYA'S SKATE IS SO FUNNY!!!!!
20 years later, the shock still reverberates:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzAAR_W5_XM
 

Did you know Tonya Harding won the Olympic team spot by winning the US championship? Poor Nance didn’t place in that competition thanks to the assault by Harding’s ex-hubby’s hit man, but she had been US champion the year before and all of America wanted her to go to the Olympics, so…. she did. But who had actually come in second at that year’s national championship and would have earned the spot? Enter: MICHELLE KWAN!!!! My main gurl was only 13 but went to the Olympics as an alternate, never performing in Lillehammer.

Come back soon for five more Olympics worth of commentary.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

is this real life?

as little david asked after the dentist, i found myself thinking, "is this real life?" on a plane a few weeks ago. i went for a short visit with some friends in the dallas area and decided to treat myself to a flight instead of a solo road trip.
on my flight, i had an early number in the southwest check-in system, so i was hoping for an aisle seat up front with my left arm free to write since i knew i'd be reading and working. the second row had two little precious children with those hideous tags that say "i'm flying alone." there was a little boy who looked like jabbar from "parenthood" and a little girl who looked like abigail breslin's younger sister. a visual: 
as i approached the little girl, who i later found out was five, i said, "is anyone sitting here?" she said, "no," so i followed up with, "well, i'm nice. are you?" she assured me she was indeed nice, so i sat down.

i hoped thought that would be the end of our conversation, but it turns out we became instant BFF's and needed to talk for the majority of the flight. so much for reading / writing / working on that flight :) we chit chatted about our drink choices (hers was dr. pepper but only on special occasions, so i suggested to her that flying through the air was indeed a special occasion), coloring (we both agree that flowers are the best thing to draw and/or color), build a bear workshop, and other normal topics. however, there was one moment where i thought to myself, "is this real life?"

this little diva has apparently been on "millions" of flights, so she was quite exasperated with the flight attendants speech and demonstration about safety. she knoooooows all the rules! she asked me if i had ever been on a flight where the "mask thing happens," and i said no. she never had either. she then quietly said, "i sure hope it doesn't happen today" and went back to her coloring. this is the moment that i thought, "i'm going to die today," which was followed quickly by, "or, i'm going to save these kids' lives today."

i honestly felt like i was being "truman show"-ed. do you ever have that feeling? that certainly, all this is just too convenient, and everything must be some not-so-cosmic set-up from producers in a sound box in the faux clouds? it just all seemed too convenient: i decide to "treat myself" to a flight, two precious children are there, we have a meet cute of hallmark movie proportions, we TALK ABOUT A POTENTIAL PLANE CRASH, she goes back to coloring. i could see the 60-minute drama episode unfold; we were going to crash, but i was going to sacrifice myself for those little cutie patooties.

fortunately, i was crazily overreacting. the plane landed just fine at love field. little baby doll ran into her dad's arm, hopped up on that special occasion dr. pepper i endorsed. she waved to me shyly, i said goodbye, and i didn't even see them at baggage claim.

i'm so glad i was wrong. 

 dallas was swell. i had a great time with these glamorous old camp friends: 

we even ate deliciously fancy ice-cream sandwiches in park. thank goodness my flight was normal, not the set-up of a lifetime original movie.