Saturday, February 27, 2010

Happy Belated New Year's! Vietnamese, that is!

Jason and I spent most of Feb. 14 traveling to Vancouver.   We didn't celebrate Valentine's Day (though it was sooooo nice that it was just the 2 of us) or Vietnamese New Year.  It really did feel weird that both occasions fell on the same day and we didn't really acknowledge either of them!  For the last few years, we've been intentional about celebrating Vietnamese New Year so that Grace and Jeremy experience a little of my culture.  There just wasn't time this year.  When we met up with my sister in Vancouver, she hand-delivered for my parents, 2 li xi envelopes for Grace and Jeremy.  For those of you unfamiliar with li xi, they're an Asian tradition.  They are red envelopes that represent good luck and usually contain a monetary gift inside.  So even though we couldn't make the New Year a big deal this year, when we got home, we were at least able to give the kids their li xi from Ong and Ba.  Unfortunately, both kids tore into their envelopes so quickly that I didn't get any pictures of them!  We had actually planned on going to the Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco today, but according to the weather forecast, it was supposed to be rainy all day.  We didn't want to drive all that way (with Jeremy, the worst traveler ever) and then be completely soaked.  Come to find out, the weather was perfect for the parade... Darn!  Next year- we're going to go next year!  Who wants to come?  Happy Belated Vietnamese New Year!  Chuc Mung Nam Moi!
(Notice the piggybanks- we just got them last month.  I love them!  There are 4 compartments- Save, Spend, Donate, Invest.  Pretty neat, right?) 
Our Olympic souvenirs for the kids

The following are just random pictures of Jeremy... A friend gave us a ton of hand-me-downs and one of the items was this fleece firefighter jacket.  Jeremy demanded that I help him put it on, and then he ran to get his dress-up hat.  So cute!

 Jeremy has a sweet tooth, just like Daddy (that's chocolate all over his face!)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Olympics 2010

It has been on our Bucket List for a long time and we can now cross it off- we got to experience the Olympics!  With this being our 10th year of marriage, we decided a while back that it would be great to celebrate by treating ourselves to a trip to Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics.  We started making preparations over a year and a half ago.  My sister was able to enter a ticket lottery for Canadians in which we got 2 events- curling and hockey.  Last month, we decided to splurge and buy some more tickets from StubHub.  I don't say "splurge" lightly- it was costly, but we really wanted to see short track speed skating.  We flew out from Fresno on Feb. 14 (we spent Valentine's Day and Vietnamese New Year traveling!) and were incredibly blessed to be able to stay with our friends, Thao and Peter's parents the entire week.  They were so generous and welcoming.  My sister spent the week with us, and my brother and sis-in-law, and Thao, Peter, and their daughter Sam were able to spend some time with us for a few days as well.  There is so much that I could blog about, but due to limited time and space, here's as short of a summary as I can write!

*Robson St.
As soon as we met up with Sarah, Thao, and Sam, we immediately headed to downtown Vancouver.  Peter, Peter (aka: PT my brother), and Teresa met up with us on Robson St. and we walked around.  Robson St. is a major attraction in Vancouver.  During these games, a huge portion of it has been blocked off for pedestrian traffic.  It was crazy to be there- Canada just got its first gold medal in Canada earlier that day, so people were really celebrating.  All week long, the energy and patriotic pride was evident everywhere. 
*Olympic Cauldron
There has been major criticism regarding the cauldron- there is a chainlink fence surrounding the whole thing due to security concerns (the riots that happened after the Opening Ceremony).
*Olympic Superstore
Somehow, we managed to get into the Olympic Superstore without waiting in line (maybe because it was 11:30pm).  I wish we would've known how busy that place was so we could have gotten all our souvenirs that night.  There have been major lineups, with people waiting over an hour just to get in.

*Vietnamese home cooked meals
We woke up to a huge Vietnamese breakfast courtesy of Peter's mom.  Every day this week, she has had iced Vietnamese coffees ready first thing in the morning for us.
Jason LOVES using public transportation and we got to use plenty of it.     
We took Skytrain to one of the live venues, Livecity Yaletown.  There were huge screens set up to watch the Olympics.  Unlike NBC's coverage here in the States, the games are being broadcast live in Canada.
We walked along the waterfront to see the Athletes Village across False Creek (it is inaccessible by the public), inukshuks (rock sculptures created to stand as landmarks, trailheads)
*Sushi and Bubble Tea (We ate a lot of Asian food this trip!  Jason even tried pig ears and a calpis bubble tea drink)

Can you believe that we worked out while on vacation?!  Found a nearby community center and got free admission simply for being from out-of-town.  I wish Fresno had community centers- this one had gyms, an ice rink, a fitness center, library, and daycare.  It was a packed place!
*North Vancouver
Our friend, Bobby, drove us to Lynn Canyon, just north of the city.  We crossed a suspension bridge (not Capilano Suspension Bridge) and hiked to Twin Falls.  Next, we went to Cleveland Dam.  We also stopped by a salmon hatchery, but were too late by 20 mins.

*Curling: Canada vs. Germany, China vs. France, USA vs. Norway
Much to everyone's surprise, curling was a really fun event to go to.  If you still haven't figured out what it is, the best way for me to describe it is that it's like shuffleboard on ice.  There were 3 games being played simultaneously.  Anyway, Canada beat Germany, but Norway beat the US.  Imagine 5000 excited and screaming fans- trust me, it was fun!

*Dim Sum
We met up once again with PT, Teresa, Thao and some other friends for a late Chinese-style brunch called dim sum. Usually, I only get to eat it once in Edmonton- this year, looks like I'll get to eat it at least twice!
*Short Track Speed Skating:  Women's 500 M Quarterfinals/Semifinals/Finals, Men's 1000 M Qualifying Heats, Men's 5000 M Relay SemiFinals 
I don't have enough words to express how very cool it was to see this event.  It was awesome!  I get to say now that I saw Apolo Ohno and JR Celski race in person.  It was interesting to see how the events are run when the cameras aren't on.  There were strict guidelines about use of flash and spectator noise immediately before the racers are called to the start line.  Still, there were tons of false starts due to cowbells being prematurely rung or spectators yelling out loud.  It was also very cool to see an event from beginning to finish (the quarters, semis, and finals).

*Richmond O Zone
This was another live venue.  We went late at night to see if we could catch a great band.  We saw Hawksley Workman, a Canadian band.  Kind of weird, but they grew on us.

Another touristy area in downtown Vancouver.  We walked around before heading to Canada Hockey Place.
*Hockey: Canada vs. Switzerland
We knew we didn't have the best seats in the arena, but seriously, we were the very top row!  It worked out great because we still had amazing views of the action and were able to sit/stand however we wanted without getting in anyone's way.  The game was insanely close so it was exciting!  To be among the crowd when the game winner was scored in the shootout was amazing!

*Livecity Downtown Vancouver
We waited in line to get into Livecity, then waited in line to get into Canada House, then waited in line to pose with the Stanley Cup.  Unfortunately, our picture turned out blurry, but still- we got to touch the Stanley Cup!

*Granville Island
This is another major tourist attraction in Vancouver.  It is a really artsy area.  The highlight is the Public Market, which is very similar to a Farmer's Market.  The place is packed with vendors selling fresh, local products as well as items made locally.  So cool!
*Russia House
Many countries (and every Canadian province) have set up pavilions around Vancouver to highlight their culture and bring attention to their nation.  Russia House set up in Science World, and since they are the next host country of the Winter Olympics, everyone wanted to know more about them.
*Commerical Drive
We stayed very close to this popular street that is filled with one-of-a-kind businesses and were able to enjoy several meals in restaurants in this area.  On our last evening, we were able to watch Men's Skeleton on a big screen before calling it a night.  

We didn't have internet access this past week- sorry to everyone who has been checking our blog regularly for updates! We have tons and tons of pictures- I tried to pick the best ones for our photo albums along the right side of our blog.  Hope this summary gives you an idea of how much fun we had on our trip!    GO CANADA, GO!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Day Party

Yesterday was Grace's Valentine's Day party at school.  I remember loving Valentine's Day as a kid.  I loved to look at all of the cards my classmates would give me- it made me feel special!  Grace got to pick out cards to give to her classmates.  There were so many to choose from- she was adamant about getting ones that were diecut shapes with a maze on the front.  Her choice reflects her love of mazes.  We also stuck a chocolate heart with each card.  Tons of kids personally thanked her for their cards and she just beamed.
Happy Valentine's Day- may the day remind you of how special and loved you are!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Super Bowl Party

Jason is a huge sports fan, so when Super Bowl comes around, it's a big deal.  For the last few years, we've watched the game at the Cos' home.  This year, the gathering included the McCrearys and Macks.  I love getting together- the guys were glued in front of the t.v., the girls spent some time chatting (yes, we did watch parts of the game), and the kids played, picked oranges, and watched Cars in Mandarin (see, it was educational, too).  Jason was going for the Saints so of course their victory was very exciting!

Thank you to the Cos for hosting and including us in such a fun event!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Disney on Ice

Grace and I went to see Disney On Ice's Worlds of Fantasy show today. I had originally considered taking her when she was still interested in learning how to ice skate. Well, she has since decided to do gymnastics instead, but I was secretly hoping that she'd think it was cool enough that she'd want to switch back. Well, that didn't happen, but we had a really fun time! (I'll post about gymnastics some other time). We invited her school friend, Madison, and Madison's mom, Heather, to come to the show with us. They had been to a show before, but this was a first for Grace and me. The show included storylines from the following movies (which all happen to be favorites in our household):


The Lion King
The Little Mermaid

Look who came to say hi during the intermission (Charlotte came to the show with Christa and both of her grandmas!) After the show (and the long wait in the parking lot to get out), we met up with Jason, Jeremy, and Madison's family for dinner. It was really nice getting to know them better and we hope to spend more time with them in the future.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Happy 100th Day of School!

Grace's class celebrated the 100th day of school today. It's a day that lends to many teachable moments, particularly with counting, so many primary grades recognize this day. Grace's class spent the whole morning working on "100th-day" themed activities. They also had a party and each student brought in 100 of a food item to contribute to the class "soup." After Mrs. Butler combined everything, each student got a bowlful to munch on. Grace was very particular and insisted that she bring Sour Patch Kids. She worked on counting out 100 yesterday. One of the rewards of being a teacher is to see your students learn. This year as a parent, I can't explain how much more exciting it has been to witness Grace learning how to read, how to add, how to write... how to count to 100... The joys of learning! We're so proud of her!
Can you believe that more than half of the school year is gone?!

100th Day Hat and glasses, 100th Day "soup"

"If I had 100 dollars, I would biy los of candy."