Monday, 7 November 2016

Halloween Candy & Dentists

As is the way in North America, Halloween was a big deal for the kids, and for some of the grown ups! We went to a friend's house for a party on the Saturday evening, the adults dressed up as well as the kids..

Then on Halloween itself we did the obligatory trick-or-treating, but it only lasts a couple of hours and then there are all the sweets to eat, we have to help the kids, it wouldn't be fair on them to make them eat it all.

Coincidentally, both kids have had two fillings each this last week! Poor Lara had hers on the 31st October, which did limit how much candy she could eat that night! Dan had his two a week later, but they were very small, and didn't require a numbing injection. He had been promised that he could choose a new dinosaur if he was good for the dentist, and he was, so meet Rocky the (Inflatable) Rockysaurus:

Grandma Invasion & Crazy Weather

Only one week now until Baba Luda arrives from Russia for an extended stay, up to 2 years. The language situation in the house could get a little complex, as I should speak to Lara - and Dan - in more French really, and there will be no escaping Russian for the foreseeable future. I need to start practicing too!

Then in a month, Grandma arrives from England, fresh from her own house move from Radcliffe to Portishead. It'll be great to have them both here for a month over Christmas and New Year - let's hope for a genuine White Christmas!

Thinking of White Christmas, and snow, we've had the polar opposite recently, no pun intended. For the last week or so, and predicted for the next 5 or 6 days at least, we've been subject to a Chinook, meaning the daytime temperatures have been very high for the time of year - here's a photo of our thermometer I took last Friday afternoon - it peaked at 20 degrees C:

This doesn't bode well for the start of the skiing season - we're supposed to be at Nakiska this coming weekend for Lara's first training session in the U10+ group, complete with her ski racing suit. I think there's enough snow high up on the mountain for her to train, but I don't think the rest of us will make the effort to join in. The weekend after Lara has training at a different resort, near Banff, and that's a lot higher, and has a lot more snow already, so we'll definitely be skiing then.  I've had to turn part of our attached garage into the family Ski Tuning area, where I'll be sharpening edges and waxing bases during the week, especially for both Lara's pairs of skis:

School Photo - Grade 4

Lara's latest school photos have come home, and she looks great on them again. The photographer takes three or four shots of the kids in different poses, then photoshops them onto different backgrounds. Here's just one that I particularly liked:

Lara chose her own dress and hairstyle, and seemed to take some extra attitude with her on that day.

Watch this space - not to be outdone, Dan had his photo taken at his preschool recently, and we've seen the results online. There are some crackers there, I'll post them once the prints arrive here.

Back on Stage

Oops, it's been a month, and time has flown by, and this isn't even our busiest time yet - that's about to come, once the skiing starts.
Lara has been attending drama classes one night a week in a local school, and tonight her group put on their performance. As usual, she knew her own lines, and most of the lines of the rest of the cast. Like most of the other actors, she was a little quiet, but certainly not the quietest there, and we hope these classes will give her confidence with public speaking as she grows up.

She's just left of centre in the photo, she was playing the teacher on a school field trip to a museum, so another good role.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Skating and Skiing are back on the agenda (updated)


Lara has started her "dryland" training for skiing already, this involves a session on Friday evenings in a gymnastics arena, doing jumps and flips and all sorts of body conditioning, then on Saturday mornings she has an outdoor session for an hour and a half, with more running, jumping, stretching and all those sorts of things that come naturally to an eight-year-old. As much as the physical side of things, these sessions are also to help the kids bond as a group, to get to know the other kids in her new age group.  She started in the Under-8s (or U8) group two winters ago, and this gave her 18 days on snow. Then last winter she was in the U10 group, and this meant 33 days on snow. She has now progressed into the U10+ group, and this starts to get more serious. She's due to have 56 days on snow during the autumn and winter, starting on November 12th. That's almost every Saturday and Sunday until the end of April, and also a bunch of Wednesday evenings at Calgary Olympic Park during the colder months from December to March.
As far as Lara's concerned, so far the highlights have been catching up with her old skiing BFF, Lillian, and getting a racing suit. She didn't need one for U10, and really she doesn't need one for U10+, but that's the age when the kids start getting them, and once one kid has one, it's hard to stand up to the barrage of begging that ensues. So, she tried one full price suit on in a shop a couple of weeks ago, but that was more for us to get an idea of her size, and then last weekend Olga found her a perfect, used suit at the ski club's used-gear sale, and Lara is delighted with it. At $75 rather than $350, so are Olga & I.

At U10+ the kids also have to have a team jacket, again to build this team-spirit thing, and I must admit they do look good when you see a bunch of them, all in the same black coats, bombing down the hill in perfect control. They have reminded me, on more than one occasion, of mini-bad-guys from a James Bond movie.
So here's Lara in all her gear, complete with her M.A.S.T jacket (a Bond-esque acronym), which stands for Mount Allan Ski Team - the mountain where the Nakiska resort is located.

Tomorrow night we are off to a specialist skiing shop in Calgary for a "Club Buy Night" - coaches from the ski club will be there, along with representatives from the big ski and boot manufacturers, and the idea is to make sure we get Lara the right skis and boots to suit her ability for the coming season. Lara's U10 coach will be there, which is going to be very useful, as he knows most about her technique and which skis and boots will be the right choice for her for this coming season. The credit card will need to go in the freezer to cool down once we get home, I suspect. But at the same time, it will be a very interesting evening, whilst she's not yet having skis or boots custom fitted, this is the next best thing, and she'll be weighed and measured, and prodded and probed before the decision is made. Those will be her "racing skis", we won't trade in her old pair, as we've done until now, as she'll also need a pair of "rock skis" for when the coaches take them in to the trees or down ridiculously silly, narrow, rocky, double-black-diamond runs. I'll meet her at the bottom of those, thank you very much.

It's not just Lara that's getting new toys - given that Dan will also be starting in the racing club, at their most junior level, from January, and all four of us will be skiing a lot, it's time I learnt how to look after the skis, so I'll be doing the "tuning" of all four sets (five, if I tune Lara's rock skis too), so that's the waxing of the base, and the sharpening of the edges.  Lara's ski club put some classes on that I attended, so I've an idea of how to get started, and I've bought some of the necessary gear, and I need to clear a space in our garage. It's a very Dad thing to do, I hear..

Dan is also looking forward to skiing, it'll be nice to ski with him just for fun initially, but then to hand him over to proper lessons on Saturday mornings from January. One of Olga or I will be with him to get him on and off the chair lifts and pick him up if/when he falls, but from what I saw last winter, I think he'll make really good progress. We picked up some used boots from the club sale last weekend, and are on the look out for new skis for him, he's outgrown his last pair. We'll be selling the reins we bought for him, he doesn't need those any more.


And then there's the skating... Lara is back to skating four days a week - Monday afternoons, Wednesday and Thursday mornings (before school - the alarm goes off around 5.40am!) and then on Friday afternoon. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday is more "general" training, but Friday's is her "competitive training" with a smaller group, geared at getting them ready for the competitions they'll enter through the season. This is also the session where the head coach puts the girls into a harness to help them learn their jumps. Olga got some of Lara's attempts on video - this was one of her better ones, but there were others that were better than this that weren't recorded:

Dan also started back at skating today. Now that he's no longer in full-time nursery, we've been able to put him into skating lessons at lunchtime, when it's much quieter, and he'll get some more individual coaching. He was the best kid out on the ice today! They group the kids into coloured groups based on ability, with the complete beginners in yellow group, then it's purple. then green. Dan is in green, and has been for a while now. Today the only other kids on the ice were yellow, so Dan was often sent off to do a quick lap of the rink while the other kids practised standing up after falling over. He helped tidy up the teaching aids at the end of the session, he was the complete teacher's pet! We had to buy him some new skates just before the lesson, which need sharpening, but it's a bit like riding a bike - you don't forget. He was a little wobbly for the first minute or so, then was fine, though he still pushes with only one leg, rather than using both equally. He's very, very left-footed, like his dad and grandpa! (and very left-handed, which is new for both sides of the family)

UPDATE - Olga tells me Grandpa Nikolai was actually left handed, but was forced to learn to write right-handed at school!

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Autumn / Fall is here

Autumn, or Fall, has arrived, and the leaves are turning a lovely colour, right before they fall off, anyway. We even had fog, which is a rare thing here.

Dan has realised that he loves playing in the leaves, having not been very impressed with the idea a couple of days ago.

Lara's school had its annual Terry Fox run last week, to raise money for charity. Lara put in a couple of laps of her school field..

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Happy Birthday, Olga

And Happy Birthday too to Olga on the 22nd. Always has been a stubborn, playful, gentle, loyal and intelligent part of our family... Hang on, no, sorry, that was Mishka. Olga is all that and much more - beautiful, funny, determined, protective, and doesn't need two walks a day or she'll poop in the garden.
Her kids are pretty cute too..
We went to our usual family-friendly restaurant, Ricky's, for Olga's birthday meal.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Happy 10th Birthday, Mishka

Sarianova Lucky Fella turned 10 in human years on the 20th September, or 70 in dog years. Always has been a stubborn, playful, gentle, loyal and intelligent part of our family. Long may he continue thinking he's a teenager!  And just to think we almost didn't get him - he and his sister arrived as a complete surprise 24 hours after their other brother and sisters!

Monday, 19 September 2016

Canmore & Banff Camping Weekend

This weekend the weather forecast looked good, and as it might have been the last weekend of warm weather for some time, we took the opportunity to take Harvee the RV out to Canmore and Banff on Saturday and Sunday.
The weather wasn't quite as warm as we hoped, but Harvee stayed nice and warm and it was great to be able to set up quickly on Saturday afternoon and leave quickly on Sunday morning. Lara and I had a one-hour trail ride booked in Banff, a round-trip through forest and along the banks of the Bow River, and we took the opportunity to drive up to the Mount Norquay ski area to see how Harvee liked the hairpin bends (no problems) and to take some scenic photographs of the RV overlooking Banff.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Thanks, Baba! Спасибо, бабa!

Baba Luda has sent a couple of parcels over from Russia, and in one was a lovely bow-tie for Danil, he couldn't wait to wear it this morning to go to PreSchool.  Olga reported that he did feel a little self-conscious once there, as none of the other boys were wearing one, so it came off, but he looked so sweet while he was wearing it! Here he is practising some of the French words he knows.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Dan starts French Pre-School

Dan had his first morning at French Immersion Pre-School today - three mornings a week, playing games and doing crafts. The French part just means that the teachers will speak in French, there is no pressure on the kids to learn to speak it, but it just gets them ready for when they start French Immersion classes in school - next September in Dan's case, when he starts kindergarten - so they've heard plenty of French and won't be completely spooked by the whole thing.
He also got a new backpack, which he was very excited about too...

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Cabo dodges a Hurricane

Our new favourite foreign holiday destination - Cabo San Lucas in Mexico's Baja peninsula - dodged much damage from Hurricane Newton yesterday, which we're pleased about. We had a great time there last February, and will be going back for a week next February - it's a very Calgarian thing to head off to the sun during the worst of the winter!
This was the view of the sea battering two large sea stacks at Cabo during a hurricane in 2013

For scale, here is the right-hand one of those stacks during our trip in February, they are huge, and the waves were breaking over the top of them, apparently. 

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Grade 4 - Day One

It's September 1st, Lara's first day of Grade 4. The main difference about this year is she will have one hour a day of lessons in English rather than the whole day in French. We met her new teacher, Monsieur Marchand, yesterday, and he seems very nice, and Lara is looking forward to having a male teacher for the first time.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Lara's Summer Sports Camp

This week Lara is at one of her favourite summer camps - the Sports and Adventure week at Calgary Olympic Park. She's got a morning of cycling today, but so far this week she's done Parkour for the first time, which she really enjoyed, and a zipline and summer luge (go-carting down a winding course). Here's the full list of things that are keeping her busy:

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Camping week in Gull Lake and Wilderness Village

Last week we took the trailer to Gull Lake for a few days, then moved 100km west to the town of Rocky Mountain House, where we stayed at a resort called Wilderness Village. This was so Lara could meet up with other families from her ski club for some summer training, and so the parents could get to know each other better.
Here are some photos from the week:

One of those photos didn't come out right in the slideshow, so here's a better version of it:

Monday, 8 August 2016

3 years in

Just a quick place-holder post to note the fact that 8th August marked our 3-year anniversary of our arrival here!

Friday, 15 July 2016

Lara Drama Camp

Lara has been at a Drama Summer Camp this week, and she has been learning a scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream, playing the character of Peter Quince, complete with one of my best ties and my "old man's cap", as she called it.
She was very good, she knew all her lines, and where she should be, she was just a little quiet, but at the end all the kids were awarded a certificate based on something they had contributed to the week, and Lara got "Best Group Leader", which sounds about right. The teacher in charge was surprised to find out that Lara was only 8, she thought she was 9 or 10..
Lara enjoyed it so much that we have signed her up for Monday night classes with the same teacher throughout Autumn and Winter, which will replace Taekwondo. Wednesday's taekwondo will also be replaced by ski racing classes at Olympic Park, so her white dobok will be put aside for a while, perhaps until Dan takes over!

Here's Lara getting her certificate:

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Lara's Grease Megamix skating show

Here's a quick post with a video of Lara's group dance from today's Airdrie Skating Club Gala. In order to try and identify her, Lara is the second tallest girl in the group, and starts off second from the back of the group of girls when they come out onto the ice...

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

1000 days in!

Tuesday 3rd May 2016 marks 1000 days since we moved to Canada, which warrants a quick blog post.
We're very happy here, the kids have settled right in, which was the biggest concern for Olga and I. All their various sports keeps us extremely busy, but since our house move last Summer, we now live very close to the city's main sports centre, where Lara has her swimming lessons (once a week), gymnastics (once a week), taekwondo (twice a week) and skating (three times a week). Dan has his skating and gymnastics there too, both twice a week.
I could spend much of the night trying to dig out a few photos and videos that sum up the last 1000 days, but for now, I'll settle on posting this video from last week, of Lara being given her yellow belt in taekwondo...

Olga and I will have a little celebratory drink in the back garden once the kids are in bed, and toast the next 1000 days!

(oh, and well done to Leicester City, winning the Premier League on our day 999, at odds of 5000-1)

Mexico Album, at last

Only two months after we returned from our winter getaway to Mexico, I've got around to picking 19 photos from the 200 I have, for an album.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Tarzan Dan

Here's a quick clip of Dan at his gymnastics class yesterday, he loves it..

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Lara's first skiing award

Lara had her final race of the season on Saturday, it's only an "internal" race, but it's still all done properly, with gates and timing. Parents are allowed to race in this one too, but Lara opted not to challenge me, though it'll be interesting if the club publish the skiers' times, to see how we compare. In her age group - the 2007 females - she came sixth, just edging out her best skiing pal, Lillian, into seventh. Lara was absolutely delighted to finally have her name called out, and to get a ribbon from Brady Leman, the Canadian SkiCross champion. 

It was a lovely end to the season, and came at just the right time to encourage her for next season, as she was becoming a little dispirited with not getting any reward for her other races this season, even though she has been performing better and better each time. Her coach, Sergey, has recommended that she move up to the next ability level for next season, which will be a jump up in commitment for us all - last year she had 18 days on snow, this season has been 33 days, and next season will be 56 days! It's an earlier start in the season, a later finish, and plenty of midweek evening skiing at Calgary Olympic Park too.
The skiers got to dress up for this race, and Lara's group chose a Big Cat theme, with Olga spending many hours in the week before the race making Lara's cheetah suit from scratch. Sergey was a very convincing lion, too...

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Happy 4th Birthday, Danil

Dan turned 4 today, and he celebrated with some skiing in the morning, then a trip a play centre in the afternoon, before cake and presents at home.

Lovely fresh snow made it soft to fall on, not that Dan falls very much, he tends to just sit down when his legs get tired..

Lara conquered the climbing wall, behind Mama, Dan's still a year too young for that.

It was strangely quiet on the pistes for a relatively warm Sunday morning with fresh snow around

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Mexico holiday

We're back safe and sound from our 5-night trip to Mexico, and very nice it was too. Very warm, a lovely resort, nice pools for the kids to play in, lovely food (and drink).
I'll put together a little slide show of the best photos and videos soon enough, I hope, but in the meantime here is one that tickled us - each night there was entertainment in the evening, and one night was a Mexican-themed evening. The staff started by inviting kids aged 4 and over up onto stage to bash a pinata - Lara snuck Danny up there and coached him on how to behave, and here is the result - make sure you have your sound up!

Two other spectacular things to share quickly would be Lara's hair - she had it braided by a vendor on the beach (actually 2 ladies, it took them 30 minutes!)

And later Lara and I went whale watching, and saw 4 humpbacks in less than 2 hours, including this mother and baby:

More to follow...