Friday, December 31, 2010

30 Days of [Figure] Skating: Day Four

Day 4: Up and Comer you're most excited to see...

No question, that goes to Alaska's own Keegan Messing. I've watched him climb the ranks for the last six years or so, and couldn't be more proud of all he's accomplished. While others see some of the results and think him mediocre, I'd like to point out that Alaska's figure skating scene is... well... nearly non existant. They get very little support from teh state, very little notice from the USFSA, and their expenses are multiplied due to the lack of training rinks, general airfare to get to competitions, and the inflated local economy.

Keegan is a techinical wizard who is slowly working on his artistry. He's got a lot of energy and flair... and I love his sense of humor. He made a lot of buzz in 2008 and I heard a few remarks about how much he reminded others of a young Scott Hamilton (the height probably has a lot to do with it).

He's skating as a Junior internationally, and a senior at nationals. He's part of the next generation, and I have no doubt he'll be in the mix in no time. Definitely my top pick for most exciting up and comer.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

30 Days of [Figure] Skating: Day Three

Day 3: Favorite Spectatorship Moment

I have so many. I've been fortunate enough to watch Keegan Messing over the years skate in local events, I saw some wonderful Fairbanks talent this summer both of which makes my heart swell with pride seeing Alaskans excel in the sport I have loved watching for most of my life (and certainly all of my adult life, which I know is only five or so years but still. It sounds cool when I say it).

However I think the one that stands out as my favorite is watching two very special people take to the Olympic ice for the first time in 2006. Melissa and Denis were so deserving of their spot on the US team, and I was so happy for them! I was able to see them make the team at the 2006 Nationals and the butterflies still come just thinking about it. I ended up having to sit away from their family during the free dance because it was so well attended that we had to sneak seats elsewhere, but we were still front and center to see them skate to silver.

Then February came and I sat in front of the TV watching every moment of the US Olympic Figure Skating Team's moment... and when Melissa and Denis took to the ice for their Compulsary Dance there was a lot of joy. Nerves were gone, because for them it wasn't about a podium placement, it was about the moment. I don't think I've ever seen them skate freer (though their Free Dance the next season is their best ever IMO).

So that's my favorite moment as a spectator... it's all summed up in that one skate.

What I did on Christmas Vacation

Christmas was spent in Anchorage. After working all day on Thursday I drove my truck behind my dad. Duane rode with me as I was incredibly nervous driving in the dark on winter roads. It wasn't too bad, but we were definitely driving on ice in parts where I hated it.

Christmas was great. The family was all together and we had a lot of laughs and food. I love getting together with the whole gang. Louisa and Jim came down and Louisa's mom was up visiting from Washington so it was crowded, which made it even better. Christmas Eve Haille and Juanita came into town so it was one big happy family in Judy and Gaylord's small little house. Couldn't have been happier.

Christmas day was at the G'parents. It was great, and once again it was full! Carolyn and her friend came by so it was just like old times. Lots of new memories for the kids, and lots more laughter for the rest of us.

Then the day after Christmas the fun ended. We were on our way out of town, going to stop by the g'parents to say good bye and I ended up wrecking the truck. Duane, Yuka and I are all fine, no worries there. I hit a patch of ice going way slower than the speedlimit and I was able to correct the car out of the spin but not out of the slide and I ended up crunching the driver's front fender... and the tire blew... and now they're finding tons more wrong with it so it looks like the truck will be totalled and I'll be out of a vehicle. Because my life sucks like that right now.

So the four of us plus three dogs rode home in Dad's truck. Monday mom drove her van over and so I am driving that for the time being, but we can't have that forever. So who knows what's going to happen with that. More expenses just keep piling up and I have no way to pay for any of them! UGH! Tuesday mom's car wouldn't start so my boss had to come rescue me and take me into work... and my best friend found out she needed surgery. To say this week has been a crapfest would be an understatement.

So that's how I spent the last week. How was yours?

Finally back among the digital!

It's been a battle trying to get internet set up at my house, but we finally have it. Oh, how I've missed the information highway! I have felt incredibly disconnected - especially when it comes to figure skating. I've missed several huge events (Japanese nationals sounds like it was awesome. So bummed I couldn't read up on it as it happened!)

Anyway, I'm catching up on my photography pages and what not, but I will be updating on here, soon! This week has been horrible and I will be expanding on that in posts coming soon.

Friday, December 24, 2010

First week on my own…

Well, kind of. My parents are about 20 minutes away (if they drive slowly). Moving down on the 12th was bittersweet. I’ll admit it, I cried when I drove away from Judy’s. A lot of good times (and frustrating) were had there. Judy cried when we said goodbye, but I was fine until I hit 6th and then it was all over. Spent some time with my grandparents, which was nice, I have a feeling I know what I’m getting from them for Christmas this year, normally I get a fair sum of cash from grandpa, but I think this year I’m getting bed sheets and kitchen gear. Grandma was asking about what I needed for my house. Personally? I want the cash!

The drive down was uneventful. Dad drove his very loaded down truck and I drove mine (also completely loaded). We made good time and got to the house earlier than we thought considering the packing up took very little time (Gaylord was overly enthusiastic on getting stuff loaded). Then we hit a snag – the keys wouldn’t work. Apparently the locks were stripped or something so the only key that would work in the lock was the original. That has been fixed, now, as we have new locks on the doors, but it was pretty frustrating all week having to hide the key so that my mom could continue getting the house in order while I went to work.

But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, the first night went fairly well, we moved all of the boxes and furniture in and then I just zoned. Mom went and got pizza and Dad tried to get keys made that would work (they didn’t) and then we just basically watched TV and talked about a game plan. Mom was awesome and had my bed made in no time, and she cooked the pizza. Dad was my hero coming up and getting me and moving in some incredibly heavy items (books are heavy, just so you know).

After they left it was all me and Yuka. Yuka was –shockingly—more freaked out than I was. I felt so bad for her that I nearly wanted to cry. It didn’t help that I had my picture of Haille staring at me from the mantle on the fireplace. If there’s one person I’m “homesick” for it’s that little goon. I love her and it still kills me that I won’t be right there anymore to see her grow up. I still think her mom should move down here. LOL

Sleep came easier than I thought it would, but I was exhausted. Having not slept well the last couple of nights due to stress/packing, I pretty much passed out in my new room. My room is pretty great for what it is (a bedroom for one) the furniture is a little off, for me, but it’s free so I can’t complain too much. I can look out on the river from my bed, and I have had to pee so much more since living here. That’s the power of running water I suppose. The couple of complaints I have is that my room gets SO HOT at night (have to keep the temp in the house at 70 per the rules) and my downstairs neighbors are LOUD (and smokers) so I can’t open my bedroom window. I tried it the other night and it just doesn’t work. Sucks.

Sunday I basically did nothing all day, just slept and then set up a few little things in the living room, but for the most part I didn’t want to do anything. I was still feeling incredibly uneasy about the whole thing and kept asking God “what was I thinking? I’m not ready for this!” but He just let me vent. I did have a couple of meltdowns, and then I hit a turning point. I don’t remember what made me change my mind, maybe it was when my parents got here and we started moving things around. Duane came over Sunday night, too, and we watched the NFL channel and had a good time.

Monday was the get your rear in gear and get moved in. Mom and I broke down quite a few boxes worth of stuff and it was really feeling like home, which was great. We got all of my books in the bookcase (okay, well, MOM got all of that stuff up) and we moved my camera equipment into my spare room (I have a room that is for rent, if anyone is interested. Rent is $600 a month and that includes internet, phone, all utilities, cable tv, snow removal, etc. You’d be renting a room and have complete use of the kitchen, bathrooms, etc. But I’d have full use of the spare room). Then we went shopping at Fred Meyer’s and picked up a few essentials. It was feeling really homey and I was so thankful for all the help. My mom enjoys this kind of stuff, but at the same time she took a lot of time out of her schedule to do all of this for me and I really appreciate it. The company was great, but so was the work she did. Even if she did argue with my dresser for about a half hour trying to figure out where the drawers went.

Tuesday I started work over at AlaskaUSA’s Soldotna branch. Come to find out one of my childhood friends had moved back and is working there, too. That was a neat surprise. All last week while my mom was at the house finishing up the decorations for Christmas and moving my stuff in, I was in training at the branch. I’ve pretty much hit overload when it comes to the training, it’s a lot of reading and computer tests and what not, but I feel like I’m fitting in.

Once mom and I got my stuffed moved in – especially my books and my DVDs – the house started to feel more like it was mine. That it’s home. Yuka has settled in, and we’re doing pretty well. I’m a “big girl” now and it’s actually feeling pretty cool. Still, I’m stressed out with the rent issue – I need a roommate –and there are things about my job that bum me out. Sure the fact that I don’t normally get two days off in a row means I get more money to compensate for it, but I do enjoy having two days strung together to do things. It will make getting up to Anchorage that much harder. I’ll figure it out, though.

The other thing that became a huge snag was the internet. I am now looking at a phone bill that’s close to 140 a month. Why? Because ACS (and really all companies) stick it to the Peninsula. I live not even a minute away from the phone company and they couldn’t even guarantee I can get the internet, explain that to me? I had to get a phone-long distance-internet package, there’s no other option. It’s insane, but it’s something I needed, and they knew it. So very frustrating; top it off, they don’t carry modems there at the store down here, so I had to wait for one to be mailed to me. It’s just stupid.

Christmas is in Anchorage and I thankfully got Christmas Eve off (it just made it easier for my training I guess to give me Friday off). Going to be weird going back to Judy’s, and I have a feeling Yuka’s going to be REALLY confused, but I’m excited. Though, really, it’s going to stink because I don’t have gifts for anyone, and the small things that I do have are cheap little gifts from Disney. I might have to brave the stores on Friday in Anchorage and pick up a few things, depending on what the fundage looks like at this point. I don’t know when my first paycheck is being deposited. I think it’s Friday, but I am not sure.

On Friday of last week we did our traditional family picture. It wasn’t as painful as it could be, and we used my fireplace for our background. Poor mom has a horrible head cold, though, so she looks a little stuffed up, but we had a lot of fun doing it, actually. I also shot a few pictures of a friend of my parents’ and then after he left Duane wanted pictures of just him and me, so I let my dad try his hand at shooting. He did okay; we actually have a couple that I really like. I still can’t get over how Duane will be sixteen next month. It’s just crazy.

Other than that not much is going on. I will be sharing photos on my photography blog from the Christmas photo shoots soon. As you can imagine, with all of the time away from the internet I am completely backed up from all that I normally do on here. Going to have to play catch up for a week or so! Thankfully I’m able to check email from my parents’ house and work, but other than that I haven’t done much but read facebook and golden skate forums on my phone, which is incredibly limiting.

Well, I’m starting to wig out because I’m tired. It’s not even 9:30 but work is just making me braindead. I think it took me two hours to just type this all up! Insanity! Hope you all have a very merry Christmas!

Friday, December 10, 2010

30 Days of [Figure] Skating: Day Two

Day Two: Favorite Pairs Program

I think anyone who "grew up with the sport" in the 90s feels a special connection to the iconic pair of Gordeeva & Grinkov, and I was no exception. They were considered perfection personified. Can't really argue with that, though I never saw them skate live. There was a magic quality about them that so few pairs seem to have.

My favorite program, then, is naturally one of theirs. It's their Vocalise Program (also known as the Rodin Number). It's exquisite.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

30 Days of [Figure] Skating: Day One

Day One: How Did You Get Into Skating

Pretty much anyone online who knows me knows this answer. The simple answer is Disney on Ice 1989. Scott Hamilton was the guest star, and they were here in Anchorage, Alaska. We don't get a lot of figure skating programs up here, so when my great aunt found out about the show she snagged tickets.

Auntie Marge was my very best friend when I was little. She took care of me while my parents worked. She could swear twice as good as any sailor, chain smoked, and was drinking her beers by 9. This was the 80s, before childcare became so full of rules and regs ha ha! She crochetted all day, loved her soaps, and was extremely opinionated (gee, that's shocking).

I loved her (still do) and looked up to her. She loved to watch figure skating, so long as it was AMERICAN skaters winning. She really liked Scott Hamilton, and so she used me as an excuse when he came to town. "The baby" (as I was often referred) needed to see Mickey skate. I didn't really know what skating was - I vaguely remember watching the 88 Olympics - but I was into Disney and they all told me it'd be fun, so what the heck, let's go.

I could not have been more bored if I were watching paint dry. I remember next to nothing about the show other than being bored... and the Mickey Mouse flashlight that we got at the door. It was blue and if you shook it the light would spin around. It had Mickey's face on the top of it. No joke, that thing was awesomeness squared. I remember jumping from lap to lap and wondering when the show would be over.

And I remember a man, with a radio and a chair on center ice. It was Scott Hamilton, and he was getting ready to skate to his Georgia On My Mind program. He talked to the radio, in my mind that meant this guy was different. What kind of adult talks to the radio? And then he began skating. For whatever reason I was mesmerised by this thirty something, balding, skater. His back flip sealed the deal. After that, there was no looking back. I watched all the professional skating shows, and managed to catch the olympics as well.

I didn't get involved with skating until 2000 when I found the world of internet message boards. A board known as Skate Forum became my safe haven away from high school stresses and I made some of my closest friends through there (and other boards). A couple of friends began working on official websites and let me "tag along" and by 2005 I was meeting "real skaters" at the US National Championships. I don't work on official websites these days (who has the time???) but I do stay involved with those skaters and I do continue to obsess over the sport (and I am a moderator at a very popular message board). I go to events when I can afford to (Disney is cheaper than skating these days) and shoot thousands of pictures.

And before I log off here's that program that started it all:

Since I lost interest in the 30 Days Of Me...

...I will try to finish that marathon posting... but I want to start another one that seems to be a bit more fun for me. So, it's 30 days of Skating!!!!!! This should keep my interest much more easily!

The list is as follows:

Day 1: How you got into figure skating

Day 2: Your favourite pairs program

Day 3: Favourite figure skating spectatorship moment

Day 4: Up and coming figure skater you are most excited for

Day 5: Your favourite Dance program

Day 6: Predict - gold medalists at 2011 Worlds

Day 7: Your favourite Mens Program

Day 8: Your favourite Ladies Program

Day 9: Code of Points - give your opinion

Day 10: Last competition/show you attended

day 11: Your top 5 favourite male figure skaters

Day 12: Top 5 ladies figure skaters

Day 13: Top 5 pairs teams

Day 14: Top 5 dance teams

Day 15: Predict - gold medalists in 2014

Day 16: Your dream 2014 Olympic medalists

Day 17: Least favourite skater

Day 18: Favourite figure skating music

Day 19: If you could marry any figure skater, who would it be?

Day 20: Your favourite Olympic moment

Day 21: Team Johnny or Team Evan?

Day 22: Favourite & least favourite commentator

Day 23: Skater everybody loves but you don’t

Day 24: Skater you love but nobody else does

Day 25: The quad. Give your opinion.

Day 26: Saddest figure skating moment

Day 27: Your favourite figure skating moment of all time

Day 28: Favourite & least favourite costume

Day 29: Your favourite figure skater of all time

Day 30: Why you love figure skating

In other news, packing is nearly completed. I just have to bag up my stuffed animals, bag up board games, and break down my bathroom... yay! And in even BIGGER NEWS.........
I GOT A JOB!!!!!!!! I'm working at the Soldotna, AK branch of AlaskaUSA! So excited!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Saturday! Saturday!

I've been silent on my blog lately as I've been packing and working hard to get ready for a move to the Kenai Peninsula. I'm moving to a house I leased on the Kenai River in Soldotna this saturday. I've been stressing out about money and the fact that I do not have a job (still am freaking out about that) but over all I'm pretty excited for the next chapter.

This move is not coming without a lot of regret. I hate that I'm leaving Haille Rae. I know, I know, she's a little kid and she'll survive and I know I have to do this move for me. But i love that little girl. She is very much an important part of my life and the fact that I won't get to see her often just kills me. I've spent many hours crying over this one issue. Over thanksgiving it just broke my heart. All during dinner she was my little buddy. Wouldn't go anywhere or do anything without me, and then when she spent the night she gave me the out of the blue "I love you" moment. Taking her to the movies and having those moments with her were a joy but telling her that I was leaving was hard. I had Judy do it because I just couldn't get out the words (I'm crying about it right now). Haille was fine with it, but honestly I don't think she understands. I won't have a chance to see her before I leave, and that makes the hurt come back full on, but at the same time I honestly don't know how I'd be able to say goodbye.

I'll miss the people at ABT, too. Granted I wasn't full on outgoing or anything, or very active, but I met a lot of wonderful people there - especially the kids I taught. It bums me out that I won't get to see them grow and mature over the years, but I do have facebook and am friends with many of the parents, so I can watch them through that, it's not the same though.

I'll miss being able to order take out from just about any type of restaraunt. I'll miss the no tax, and everything being cheaper...

I'll miss my aunt. We don't always agree, or get along, but we've had a great time together - or at least I have. I know she wants out of here in the worst way, now, but we shared some great memories. She's so happy to have my room back as hers, though, so I guess it's for the best. But wow, I'll miss her.

So I guess I should get back to packing.

Ryan Bradley at US Nationals?

Bradley during practice at Worlds in 2010
Photo (c) Rueters
Rumors began circulating in late November that Ryan Bradley was going to make his way to the US Figure Skating national championships when he added some suggestive tweets on Twitter. This week several fans on skating message boards reported on his strong skates in a Dallas exhibition in which he hit triple axels and quads in practice and the shows.

Bradley has been the talk of many skating fans as far back as 2000 when his charm and skating ability was noticed as a junior. His boy next door looks didn't hurt his fandom either. Still, his journey into the senior ranks was rocky, filled with inconsistency and "lack of polish." What made Bradley unique was also hurting his chances for climbing the ranks - he was all about showmanship at - apparently - the expense of the technical difficulty.

That all seemed to change during the last quadrennial with Bradley taking the silver medal at the US National Championships in 2007 - right out from under former US Champion Johnny Weir (who barely hung on to third). Still, it was an up and down end to the season when Ryan reached Worlds, and he did not make the team in 2008 when he finished fifth. 2009 he was, again, fourth, and during the Olympic season his short program kept him from the Olympic team even though he had the second best long program (he once again came fourth).

But with his tweeting at the end of October asking "Is it possible to make a comeback if you don't take a season off?" and then a few days later updating his twitter with "Almost done with the short. Contemplating a new long" fans began to get excited at the prospect of Ryan making a bid for US Nationals. He tweeted closer to sectionals that he would be "coaching at my own event." And then nothing on the subject. Bradley went on to participate in several shows (Scott CARES and Improv on Ice) during the fall, while living life (he tweeted from football games, and family events).

The rumors began flying again this weekend when reports from a Christmas show in Dallas, TX had Ryan Bradley looking more fit than he had before hitting his triple Axel and attempting quads. One fan reported on FSU that she had heard "from sources" that Ryan had said he would be competing at nationals.

So, will Bradley be at nationals? With the US men's team failing to make the Grand Prix final, and basically having a lackluster season, it's quite possibly Ryan could see himself on the podium. While he doesn't get the high PCS, he can normally make up for it with his quads - and if his triple Axel is truly back he might win on that alone. With audiences bemoaning the lack of individuality, Bradley's "return" could give viewers what they want.

The 2011 US National Championships are just a month or so away, guess we'll wait and see.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Movie Review: Disney Animation's Tangled

Disney Animation's latest CGI film came to us this Thanksgiving with the story of Rapunzel. As with all of the classic Fairytales, Tangled presents the story with a few Disney twists. This is also, reportedly, the final Disney Princess film according to recent articles quoting the Company's head - John Lassetter - as saying they were going to go in a different direction.

If Tangled is to be the final Princess film, well, then Disney did not disappoint. In a decade filled with hit or miss films, the company has ended on a high note with their latest animated films (Princess and the Frog, Bolt, and now Tangled). The story is timeless, the story seamless, and CGI animation -while not Pixar standards- is spot on.

The story itself is familiar. Rapunzel (voiced by singer-actress Mandy Moore), a princess, is wisked away by an evil old woman to live in a tower where her hair grows long and - as Disney tells it - has magical powers that keep her captor young and beautiful. Rapunzel knows not that her "mother" is really the villian, or that the lanterns she sees from her tower window every year on her birthday are for her.

Meanwhile, a local fugitive - Flynn Rider (voiced by "Chuck" actor Zachary Levi) - has a bit of trouble on his hands when he finds himself in possession of a stolen crown and is now persued by the King's army. While escaping, he finds himself facing a hidden tower deep within the forrest. Naturally he climbs said tower only to find himself face to face with... a frying pan. The frying pan, naturally, is wielded by our heroine who decides to "hire" Flynn to take her to the lanterns so that she can see them in person. This is her only birthday wish, and at age 18 she feels she is more than deserving. So she lies to her "mother" and sets off on an adventure.

The young duo find themselves at odds almost immediately. Rider is more interested in the crown - which Rapunzel has hidden in order to get him to take her to the lanterns - and tries to convince Rapunzel to give up the notion and go back and forget the whole thing. Rapunzel, herself, is at odds with her decision to leave - feeling guilty for lying to her "mother" - but curiousity wears out... as well as begins a love story.

By the end of their journey, our duo finds themselves completely infatuated with one another and with life lessons learned. Flynn reveals truths about himself that he's shared with no one else, and Rapunzel lets down her guard to share her hair's magical gift. This charming love story is easily believable and enjoyable to watch unfold. Even though the viewer pretty much knows it's going to happen, you're still pleasantly surprised to find that you were right in your assumption.

The plot quickly turns dark as Rapunzel's true identity is revealed to her, and the climax has a couple of twists you wouldn't expect from the Disney storyline. It departs dramatically from the original telling the further along you go in teh story, but is brought 'round right by the end.

Many Disney purists have been skeptical of the CGI films over the years. Some - including myself - believe that the medium should be left to Disney's partner company, Pixar. Other's don't seem to mind the medium so long as the story is good - which Disney has been hit or miss with since the early 90s. However with the change of command in Pixar's John Lassetter, Disney has seemingly made it's way back to the light with classic stories being told - and being told extremely well. The Disney Magic is fully evident in the 50th feature animation.

A couple of criticisms: the music was lacking, this is very disheartening considering Alan Meinken was at the helm and he's produced many classic scores over the years for the animated features. There were too many "small" songs that just seemed to be there because the director thought "it's a disney film we need a song here, and here, and one here, and oooo this is probably where one goes, too." The songs lacked a bit of heart, though some of that may be due to Mandy Moore.

Also, throughout the film I found myself wanting this movie to be done with the classic 2D animation that all other princess films had been done. Again, this goes back to personal preference, and the fact that compared to Pixar, the animation just doesn't come close, but no where in the film did the CGI seem to stand out as something that could only be done with computer graphics. You could possibly argue the lantern scene, but then they could have Beauty and Beast styled the movie and let that scene be part 2d and part CGI. Still, the computer animation was sound, and very few scenes seemed unfinished to my untrained eye.

Over all this was an enjoyable addition to the Disney family. It's a great family film - my nearly five year old neice enjoyed it - and surprisingly does not talk down to the audience at all (which I found even Princess and the Frog did). There's slapstick humor, very little potty humor (if any), and it is - of course - clean. Parents worried about the magic aspect will be happy to note that it's minimal and at the end is done away with entirely.

In true Disney form this story is a keeper.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Yuna Kim Throws Hat In The Ring

Yuna Kim in New York City. October 12, 2010.
Photo (c) Getty Images.
Kim Yuna's camp released a statement yesterday stating Kim's intention to compete in the 2011 World Championships, it will be her only competition of the season unless she decided to skate at the Four Continent Championships. The announcement comes just days after Kim's main rival, Japan's Mao Asada, did not make it to the Grand Prix Final.

Kim Yuna kept busy over the summer with her All That Skate shows followed by a dramatic break up with her coach Brian Orser. By early fall Kim moved on by bringing All That Skate to Los Angeles and announcing Peter Oppreggard as her new coach. A few media appearances throughout the fall, though, is all the skating world heard from their golden girl....

Until yesterday when she rocked their world once again saying she wasn't leaving competitive ice just yet. According to her press release, Kim will be skating to music from the ballet "Giselle" for her short program, while paying homage to her home country in her long program to "Arirang" - "the most famous piece of Korean Folk Music". David Wilson choreographed both programs, meaning the Short Program that Shae Lynn Bourne reportedly worked with Kim on has been scrapped.

Debate in skating circles revolves around whether or not the move to not skate until Worlds is a wise decision. With the ladies figure skating being in the state it's in - the more inconsistent skaters coming out on top and the reigning world champion faltering in her grand prix events - it's no surprise that Kim feels she's more than capable of the top spot should she skate relatively clean.

But, can it backfire? With no events prior to Worlds how is she going to work out any kinks that may give her 0 points or deduct them. There are new rules, and - while she still has a coach - she may miss a key component to the rules. There's also the competition jitters, we have no idea as to how well Peter will be able to calm Yuna and give her the confidence her former Coach was so able to give her. Will she have the nerve to go out there with brand new programs and skate to the top? Does she even have the competitive fire that she needs?

The one competition Kim could use as a spring board is the Four Continent Championships which will be a few weeks before the World Championships. This would be a wise move to skate in, but Kim told International Figure Skating in their latest issue that she didn't think she could be prepared in time to compete. Considering IFS is a bimonthly magazine, Kim must have just recently started hard training. If she's not ready for 4CC, will a few more weeks help her that significantly?

One thing's for sure, it just made this season interesting.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I'm Back!

Not going to take a whole lot of time and update, will do that sometime in the next few days. I am a bit under the weather and still editing photos from my trip. Had a great time, great weather, great company. And Thanksgiving was good as well. I'm still on a wacky time schedule and as such I'm just BLAH. I also feel a cold coming on, so I'm trying to keep it at bay.

Next on the agenda for me is moving down to teh Peninsula into my new home. More on that, hopefully once I'm not stressed.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

30 Days of Me: Day Twenty

Day 20: A Hobby

I have several hobbies, and they all seem to be linked. Photography leads to scrapbooking, and most of my photography (hobby) and scrapbooking revolves around my travelling. You probably see where I'm going with this.

I have officially hit the 24 hour mark until I'm on a plane watching the Flight Attendants do the emergency procedure demonstration. To say I'm excited is an understatement. I love to travel, but my body hates to fly. My stomach is normally in knots and the barfbag is always the first thing I locate when I get to my seat. Dremamine is going to be the experiment this time around. It doesn't do anything for me when I'm on a boat in the ocean, but I'm going to give this extra strength drowsy kind a try. It's adult chewable orange flavor. Yeah, that's all Fred Meyer's had ha ha!

Hopefully it will work because I REALLY don't want a repeat of my last time on an airplane where I basically threw up for three hours. Yuck.

So this blog is going to be pretty much quiet for the rest of the month. I get back on thanksgiving so I should start blogging soon after ( not that anyone really cares about my schedule ). However, Erin and I will try to blog from time to time while on our trip. We have our own travel blog which you can find here - - and we'll be updating our facebooks. I will also try to twitter when possible - - so there's no excuse not to know what we're doing! Favorite our blog, follow me on twitter!

In other non-meme news: My parents go to view the potential new Casa for Tonichelle today at 11. I'm really hoping this comes through. I'm praying that a job opens up and it is a total possibility. I really hate that this will be decided while I'm travelling, though. All because dad took forever to actually do some investigating on the place. Oh well, it'll all work out.

I better get off of here and actually finish packing, or this trip will never get off the ground!

Friday, November 5, 2010

30 Days of Me: Day Nineteen

Day 19: A Talent of Yours

Well I'm going to take the cheaters way out and say Photography. Quite possibly it's the only semi-talent I have. I envy those that can sing, play an instrument well, and other talents. I envy other photographers as well, because I'll tell you a secret - I'm not very good. At least, I don't believe that I am. Seems funny that someone who is on her way to being a professional photographer says that, but I look at others and their work and I feel that I am sooooooooo far behind them on the talent scale.

I think the work I'm most proud of these days are my photos of sled dogs. I'm really enjoying shooting the races, however I'm no where near Jeff Shultz's ability. But he's had way more practice. I'm super excited to use my new zoom lens to see what types of shots I get this year!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

30 Days of Me: Day Eighteen

Day 18: Whatever Tickles Your Fancy

Yay another "you have permission to ramble all the live long day" day! Ha ha!

I shouldn't even be posting at the moment, I should be doing laundry and packing for my trip. Erin and I are down to three days before I fly out to Seattle and she drives over from Montana to meet me. But my dad just called and gave me some incredible news on something I've been looking at for quite a while.

There's a house that's for rent on the Peninsula that is prime real estate. I figured it'd get picked up with no problem early on, but it's been reposted in the last couple of months - assuming it rented out easily in the summer for just the summer - it has EVERYTHING paid for and I and my parents all thought it would be a huge expense. So I let it go.

On a whim my dad called the person renting it out, and it's less than half of what we thought. WOW. I'm really praying that it works out, if I find a roommate it's a done deal, I'll take it as God moving. Technically I have the money for just me to make first month's rent, but I won't have another high paying job right out of the gate. I'll need to get anything until I can find something that pays well. I've just sent out a couple of applications, but with my leaving for three plus weeks it may be difficult.

My parents are so jazzed right now it'd probably be easy to swing them into helping me out at this point! LOL

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

30 Days of Me: Day Seventeen

Day 17: A piece of artwork (painting, sculpture, etc)

Okay, I couldn't figure out one piece that I liked most, so I went with a favorite artist. Jon Van Zyle is an Alaskan artist (seeing a pattern, yeah, you should) who is the official artist for the Iditarod. He doesn't just paint sled dogs and mushing, but he documents all of Alaska. He's an amazing talent.
Check out his website here:

In other, somewhat related, news: the Iditarod Idita-rider Auction is up and running. This is a huge event as it's a great way to raise money for the race, while giving fans a once in a lifetime opportunity to run with their favorite musher for the first eleven miles of the race. You get to ride through Anchorage, AK in the ceremonial start of the Iditarod and hang out with your musher at the Musher banquet. Visit their website here: for more information on the race and the auction.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's Gonna Be a Long Night...

Packing has come to a standstill, why? Because I'm watching the numbers come in for the state. So far those that I've voted for are leading. The senate race is, of course, what everyone is talking about not just here but also nationally (thanks *SO* much for that Sarah Palin. Ugh.). I've not been happy with teh potshots the outside media has taken tonight, but there's nothing I can do about that.

My state has been overtaken by transplants and outsiders, but Alaskans are fighting back. We're telling Palin to blow it - even if the write in campaign fails to win Murkowski her seat back, as long as we stay neck and neck, if you add in the votes going to McAdams, there's a strong message there. The Sarah Palin that stands away from Alaska today, is not our Palin. We backed her up two years ago, and she's turned her back on us now. Why? Because we're too small for her. In all of our vastness, we just don't matter nationally.

Instead of fighting for Alaska, she's agreed with the rest of the outsiders and has decided Alaska is only good to peak people's interests. It's only important when it suits her political needs. Fine. That's her own choice. But then STAY OUT of our affairs, Sarah. This "Palin's Alaska" crap is not welcome here, and we're saying it loud and clear.

I am a conservative Alaskan Republican. If speaking out against this disgusting turn of events revokes my card, let me be the one to burn it. No, I don't think Murkowski is going to be able to bring money to the state that doesn't exist. No, I don't think she's the best chioce we could possibly have (I've suggested Knowles would be better than Murkowski, so obviously that's not it). No, she's not Pro-Life. It's why I bought into the Joe Miller campaign early on and voted for him in the primary.

Then he shot his mouth off and has decided in order for him to effectively LEAD, Alaska must change. That the Bush/Rural communities need to change if they want the money we're funnelling into them, is absurd. That he keeps talking to a national LIBERAL media instead of the STATE'S liberal media, showing us that ultimately the nation's opinion matter more. That he did not want to wait to see the people's choice - true chioce, not just primary - and declared himself the winner months ago. That he speaks of national plans, and barely mentions Alaska plans to the general public....

I vote ALASKA first. This does not make me less of a Republican (until now Republicans have looked out most for our state), this does not make me less of a Christian (as we all know God allows us to choose our Earthly Leaders, but he was not pleased in Saul and David's time about it, and I doubt highly He's any more okay with it these days) - OMG, I didn't vote for the pro-life candidate, I'm going to Hell! I'm pro-life, but that's NOT ENOUGH for me in this election. Life is important, but not at the expense of life that is going on now. Potential life will be well protected by others. Murkowski dances polls, she's had the wake up call, she'll vote smarter - but what this does make me is an Alaskan.

I don't believe transplants who come in, live in Anchorage, and talk of leaving the state or talk about rural areas as if they're third world countries are ALASKAN. You're city folk who buy into the whole Alaska thing. There's a reason why we say Anchorage is just an hour outside of Alaska in any direction. It's NOT Alaska. It's a quaint little city on the edge of our borders.

This does not mean all Anchorage-ites are non-Alaskan. There are many who were here before "The City of Anchorage" was. They're the ones backing the Alaskan traditions, and they're Democrats, Republicans, Independants, and unsures. But they think and live and feel and BREATHE Alaska first. The Feds be damned, they've not done a thing for this state that Ted Stevens and the other founders didn't fight tooth and nail - and yes across partylines - for. The Feds control 45% of this state. They tell us how to live, they tell us how to think, but refuse to understand our culture, our way of life. It's not the stereotypical life in "Palin's Alaska" where we mush dogs in our designer duds (most Mushers wear carharts because they're practical, not because it's a designer name). Where we wear make up and do our hair just so to go fishing while yelling that we love tranquility scaring away the brown bears. And we certainly don't throw one another under a bus when climbing the ladder.

That's the outsider influence. And if it all went away tomorrow (even if that meant the money went away, too) that'd be just fine. We did fine without you, we'll continue to do fine.

So here's to Don Young - who stands for Uncle Ted's Alaska (which is far more important than Palin's)! And Sean Parnell who stuck it to Palin after she dumped a mess in his lap and fled our state. And here's hoping those of us independent enough to vote for the state get to be heard through the write-ins!

30 Days of Me: Day Sixteen

Day 16: Song That Makes You Cry (or Very Nearly So)

For those not paying attention: I am a huge daddy's girl. We're very close, and I love spending time with him. When Tim McGraw did the song for Flicka and it debuted on the radio I had to pull over and cried my eyes out for a solid five minutes. So I think it's only fitting that "My Little Girl" by Tim McGraw gets the nod on my journal today. I refuse to listen to it all the way through as I am kinda homesick today. So for those who aren't as emotionally connected to the song I share with you the official music video!

Daddy, Love you MORE!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Haille is Ariel

A Collage of Haille's Halloween 2010. She will be taking this dress to Disneyland when we go for her birthday in February. It's a stunning dress, I'd totally wear it as an adult. *hint to Disney*

30 Days of Me: Day Fifteen

Day 15: A Fanfic

This is quite random, and supposing that the one playing along reads such things. I am not a reader of fanfic, normally because I have an idea in my mind as well, but it never jives. However a friend of mine does write Fanfic and on occasion I have been surprised with myself as I get all fangirly over what she's written. It's based on the Disney Pirates of the Caribbean series of films and takes place after the third film (At World's End) and is about the character William Turner and his new life aboard the Flying Dutchman.

If you're curious you can read it here: A Touch of Destiny

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Just one from Tonight

It wouldn't be right to have an October 31 blog post that didn't have a Halloween theme... just one tonight, will share more later. And it's of Bubba Jack the NO-eyed Arctic Pug Pirate!

Hope you had a happy haunting, or candy day, or whatever! We certainly did, though I am exhausted and shouldn't even be up still! Oy! Going to bed now ha ha! Tomorrow (in like half an hour) is NOVEMBER. Insanity!

30 Days of Me: Day Fourteen

Day 14: A Non-Fictional Book

I love a good autobiography. I'm nosy about people I admire, for one, but I also love to see their writing skills. The less the ghostwriter works the better. Since I'm on a girly kick I'll throw back to a true on-ice love story written by 1988 & 1994 Olympic Pairs Champion Ekatarina Gordeeva entitled My Sergei.

Katia's book is both romantic and tragic as it follows not only the author's life and career but that of her on and off ice partner, Sergei Grinkov, who died suddenly in 1995 at age 28. Published nearly a year after his death, the pain was still raw and it's very evident throughout the pages, yet through it all Katia is able to cherish and celebrate the life their shared, first as coworkers and finally as parents.

Because Katia was born and raised in Russia, there's no doubt that a lot of the stylized part of the writing was done by her ghost writer, EW Swift, who covered figure skating in its hey day for Sports Illustrated. However the story is heartfelt and very much Katia. There are some amazingly sweet moments throughout, and she also dives into the darker parts of the figure skating world - especially during the time she skated for the USSR before Russia's revolution.

Over all it's one of the best autobiographies ever written. I've owned the book since it came out -give or take a year- and even as a junior high student I was moved to tears. I'm so happy Katia and Daria have found happiness and a new chance at family with Ilia and Elizaveta.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Chan-troversy surrounds Men's Event

Patrick Chan has received a large amount of criticism today as he found himself on top of the Skate Canada International Men's event. Chan came from fourth place in the short to first over all with a commanding lead from the rest of the field, which left many wondering why?

Chan's short could only be described as a disaster. Falling on three different required elements (the quad, triple axel, and in his footwork sequence), many - including Chan - were shocked to find him so close to podium placement. Chan beat out several men who were much cleaner and delivered the technical, and Chan was even awarded the highest tech score of the night... with THREE falls.

Home country advantage always seems to play a part of the judging, and is normally reflected in the program components score (the IJS's version of the artistic mark), however Chan received the highest hometown hero advantage to date, and for a program that didn't just have a slight flaw.

Fast forward to tonight's event, and, once again, Chan was hardly perfect. A fall on the triple axel (which is his trademark fall) and scratchy landings and spins throughout left, what many thought, room for others to seize the moment. The judges, however scored Chan to where he was ten points above the event's silver medalist, Nobunari Oda, who was clean in the short program, and had one fall in the long. Chan's long program score was not the issue, it was the blatant overscore in teh short that held him up and gave him the gold medal.

Chan's reaction was his typical one, pretend to be shocked and then go on to tell the media that he knew the judges wanted to give him those scores. Really, Chan? Maybe try skating well once and actually deserving them.

30 Days of Me: Day Thirteen

Day 13: A Fictional Book

A friend of mine gave me the Alaskan Quest series of books for my birthday a few years ago. She immediately thought of me when she read them because they were in Alaska. I will admit I was very reluctant to be enthused because I absolutely hate the stereotypical way authors (and tv/film writers) write Alaska. However, I was pleasantly surprised that Author Tracie Peterson took the time to try to understand the Alaskan way of life and thinking.

The series is written by a Christian novelist, and is in the "Christian Romance" genre. Again, not something I am normally into, but I was pleasantly surprised. What struck me most was how the main female character had the true Alaskan spirit - though she was a bit more delicate than I would have wanted. She is able to fend for herself, and I found myself identifying with her over many of her womanly fears.

The story takes place in North West Alaska Coast. North of Nome. It follows the story of adult siblings Jacob and Leah Barringer. Orphaned during the initial gold rush they've now set out on their own, vowing to stay by each other until one marries. Leah is the one having the most trouble as she nears 30 and does not have a husband and family of her own. Then, someone from her past reappears and old feelings come welling back.

Romantic fairytale elements aside the series is good for a variety of reason. You have a bit of mystery, a bit of adventure, and romance, but most importantly it's clean. There are no sex scenes in graphic detail even when it's a married couple, though it's obviously suggested. Later in the series there is a rape, but the author does not shy away from answering the tough questions like "why did God allow this to happen?"

I own the series, and the series before it, as well as Robinson's latest Alaska series. Why? Because she's one of the few authors in this time period that GETS Alaska. It's not Jack London quality, but I don't expect that out of someone who does not live here.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Getting ready for my vacation!

As you may have seen, I've changed this blog's layout. It's not the best, but I'm juggling several things at once so I wasn't totally paying attention to the blog. It will have to do.

Anyway in the spirit of Disney I used a photo I took from our January 2009 trip and used it as a background. For now it's fine.

9 days and counting, oh, yes, I am excited.

Phaneuf takes lead in Ladies Short

Phanuef celebrates after her short program.
 The ladies opened Skate Canada International this year, and fans were not disappointed. Most ladies came with their game faces on and it was an actual Short Program competition. American new comer Agnes Zawadzki openned the event and proceeded to hold the number one spot until Russia's Ksenia Marakova took the ice. Veterans 2009 US Champion Alissa Czinsy, who has a habit of winning Skate Canada, and Fumie Suguri had issues with their jumps, but Czisny's program components held her up to a fourth place.

Canada's biggest contender going into this season is Cynthia Phaneuf, and she made the statement she's ready and willing to step up and fill the void left by Canadian Champion and Olympic Bronze Medalist Joannie Rochette. A confident, sexy Phaneuf skated with power and experience to hit the top of the standings shocking US commentator (and Olympic Champion) Tara Lipinski who believed the more technically strong Ksenia would hold on to first. It seems experience beat out the newcomers, for now.

The competition is far from over, however, as there is less than a point between each of the top four skaters, and only half a point seperates the two American ladies. Watch out, skating, the ladies have returned.

30 Days of Me: Day Twelve

Day 12: Whatever tickles your fancy.

Perfect! This will be short and sweet - NINE DAYS TILL VACAY! I am so excited I could burst.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

30 Days of Me: Day Eleven

Day 11: Photo taken of you recently

Considering I'm normally behind the camera it takes a while to find something recent that is worth sharing. I went all the way back to last year! ha ha! This was taken by my friend and co teacher Bailey in our sunday school class.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Video Series Review: Phil Vischer's What's In The Bible

VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer is back with an all new children series focussed on the Bible. Entitled "What's In The Bible with Buck Denver", Visher has once again made important Biblical principles accessable to children and adults in a fun family friendly format. Instead of Vegtables bringing familiar Bible stories to life, a cast of puppets are answering the tough questions that surround The Word of God.

The host of the "show" is Buck Denver "Man of News". He's a semi bored little news reporting puppet, and relies heavily on Vischer for guidance in each show. His costars include Sunday School Lady, Pastor Louis, Pete the Pirate, and Michael a little boy puppet on his way to grandma's house driving cross country with his mom (we never see or hear her) and his little brother Pierre (we never see him, but he does throw things from time to time at Michael). There are other characters who bring in information as well as random bits of humor as Buck, Phil, and Sunday School Lady basically work most of the meat of the shows.

Like VeggieTales, Phil is starting out small and voice many of the characters within the show. He is also featured in each "episode" to help keep the puppets in line or to help Buck answer the tough Biblical questions like "How old is the world", and "Why did God want people to die"? Phil does a very good job at explaining what we understand and believe about God and the Bible in a way that everyone can follow.

The format of the show is very similar to that of Sesame Street and other children's puppet shows, short quick segments, but it never talks down to the kids. There are lessons upon lessons and it's not just the same stuff you get year after year in sunday school. It bolsters those teachings with a deeper understanding.

They don't get into denominational battles, where the denominations differ is not so important as the basic Truths we all believe. This is pushed heavily throughout the series.

Over all this is a must have for any family, sunday school, or children's program. It's a fantastic resource, and I've learned several things myself! Be sure to order the DVDs and check out their side website for Jellyfish Labs.
The series is still in the works, with a planned 13 one hour DVDs in all, so far they've released the first four which takes us from Genesis through Ruth.

30 Days of Me: Day Ten

Day 10: Picture taken of you over 10 years ago

This was obviously taken over 10 years ago, try like 24 years ago or so! Taken in my grandparents old motorhome, those little pink bathtubs were all the rage. Had a great picturesque view in all my nakiness! I love this pic ha ha! If I ever have kids I'm recreating it for each one of them!

Figure Skating 2010/11 - NHK Trophy

The Figure Skating season has officially started. This weekend skating fans turned their eyes towards their computer screens and Japan as the Grand Prix openned with the NHK Trophy. It's a new Olympic Cycle, and while there are still many familiar faces, it's a whole new era in the making.

The events seemed to be evenly matched between the well knowns of the last few seasons, as well as those primed to make their mark in the next four years on their way to Sochi 2014. World Medalists met Junior World Medalists in each field, and some surprising results happened in each disipline.

Most surprising was the rise of 15 year old Japanese dynamo Kanako Murakami. She states that Mao Asada is her idol, and yet there were no stars in the girl's eyes as she laid down an impressive senior debut. Her short program was fun and upbeat, a perfect match for a 15 year old. Her long program - set to the soundtrack from The Mask of Zorro (I believe?) - had some rough patches, but as far as making her mark, she's done so with flying colors. She won bronze and it was well deserved. If she can keep herself protected from the mounting expectations, and survive any growing she may have yet to do, she just might topple Mao Asada's plans for gold in four years.

Not that Mao needs any help toppling those dreams. The world champion had a rough outing ending up well below the standard. Asada has changed coaches, again, and is now taking from Mr. Sato (1994 World Champion Yuka Sato's father). This should help Mao is several ways, mainly that her coach will be in the same country she is and will be hands on and available at every practice and competition, something Asada did not have with Tarasova. They are also "going back to basics" and reworking a few of her jumps. It worked for Joannie Rochette, but it does take time. Time that Rochette had as ladies skating in Canada is not as deep and competitive as it is in Japan. Asada cannot afford to have a rough few seasons to make it to Sochi. There are too many girls nipping at her heels and are willing and ready to knock down doors to get there.

World Medalist Carolina Kostner has had an up and down career, and at NHK it was up again. A confident, happy looking Kostner won the event, and has the message boards buzzing. Is the spirit back in this skater? We haven't seen such an energized performance out of her in quite some time. While some believe Murakami should have won the Short Program and not Kostner, there's no mistaking that whatever demons Kostner faced last season have at least decided to take a break for the opening of the Grand Prix.

Kostner has also been working on her artistry and in both programs it shows. She's taking her time in and out of each element, which can only help her consistency as the season progresses. Her programs suit her, and the style is subtle yet completely her. It seems to be a new leaf for her, and it's a welcome one. Will she keep the momentum through the grand prix, or are we headed for more up and downs? Time will tell, but here's hoping we're seeing the emergence of a new and improved Carolina.

US Champion Rachel Flatt put the naysaying to rest last weekend when she put down two strong performances to capture the silver medal in Japan. Sporting a new bob, she gave off a Dorothy Hamil vibe as she ticked off elements. She allowed time in both programs for a bit of her personality to show, especially in the footwork sections. Her long program had moments of flirtation and fun, which will only shine more as the season progresses. She looks like a national champion, and the few flaws throughout the programs will be worked out before the season kicks into high gear. This was the perfect jumping point for her as she decides what to do next. She is taking a year off of school - she's been accepted to Standford University, as you may recall - to focus on skating. Looks like it's paying off. She fills her downtime tutoring and playing piano.

Caroline Zhang was also on hand in Japan. She, like Kostner, had an up and down season last year. Unlike Kostner, however, Zhang's season debut was not a good one. She's had several coaching changes, growth spurts, and is retooling her jumping technique. Her confidence is shot. She was touted as the next big thing when she hit the scene just a couple of seasons ago, and now she's being written off by just about everyone in the skating fandom. She doesn't appeart to enjoy skating anymore, it shows on her face, and one has to wonder why she's still in the game.

Jeremy Abbott and Daisuke Takahashi were in a league all their own with their refined skating styles. Both vied for gold, with the Japanese World Champion making it to the top of the podium. Takahashi's programs look better than ever, and more refined than one would expect for the start of the season. Daisuke knows how to perform and knows what it takes to stay on top. He hit his first quad in a very long while, and, should he stay healthy, there's no reason to doubt that he will retain his world title next March.

Takahashi has gone with a tango theme this year, and it really works. He's sultry, passionate, and holds the character well. He's got the good to back up the technical, but still allows himself the freedom to express the character of the music within the program. This is what makes the skater great, as well as the sport. It's masculine, artistic, and just good. This is not to say that he is the only one who grasps that. It seems that the crop of skaters we have in this Olympic cycle are the perfect blend. There are a few others thrown in for good measure, but the medal contenders are a good balance of athletiscm and artistry.

Two Time US Champion Jeremy Abbott is trying out a new look this season, and so far it's working. Yes, there's a bit of negative critiquing going on by fans of the sport and skater alike, but over all Jeremy's season has started off just like it always does. A solid performance, a silver medal. What remains to be seen is when he will peak. Normally, we see Jeremy top the Nationals podium with a passionate couple of performances and then he has a lackluster - if not embarassing - showing at the World Championships. We saw that disaster happen last season where he defeated himself in the Olympics.

However, Jeremy's change to Yuka Sato for a coach has emphasized the need for calming himself before a competition and going through one thing at a time. It seemed to work here as Abbott seemed more focussed and in control as ever. Never before have we seen the skater without a look of terror on his face as he took center ice. If this is a permanent change of attitude for Abbott - watch out world. He's ready to take you on!

Michael Jackson inspired Florent Amodio to a third place finish with his entertaining, if not a bit odd, long program set to a medly of the late Pop King's hits. Amodio channelled the legend with several crotch grabs, weak moonwalks, and other Jackson-esque moves in his footwork sections. Amodio is someone this sport needs, someone who isn't afraid to be entertaining and yet still get the job done. He has four years to get polished to make it to an Olympic podium. As long as he has fun, he'll have the crowd behind him, but it remains unclear if the judges will take to his style.

Sadly, Kevin Van Der Perren's decision to stick it out one more season has not started off well. He appeared to be distant from the competition and his programs. That disconnect let down to a very sloppy competition on his part. It remains to be seen where his season will lead, if anywhere.

Not surprisingly, the pairs and dance events had clear champions set out from the start. The competive field was horribly one sided with more new faces and up and comers than there were seasoned champions. So it was no surprise who hit the top of the podium.

World Champions Qing Pang & Jian Tong won the event easily with their new, more romantic style. They let it be known after the Olympics that they are a couple off the ice and now feel free to share it with the world and in their skating. They have their sites set on the 2014 Olympics, but it looks like they may have some challenges in the next season or two for staying on top.

American teams Caydee Denney & Jeremy Barrett and Caitlin Yankowskas & John Coughlin skated well for a seasonal debut. Denney & Barrett switched coaches and training centers this summer and are currently working with US Pairs Champion (and hottie) John Zimmerman. They've decided to take a new approach to their skating, a new direction for their choreography, all in the hope of building better chemestry on the ice. David Wilson supplied their choreography, and while the Short Program seemed to work, their Long Program has a long way to go. However, this young pair has a lot of expectation riding on it, and they've not been skating as long as some of the other countries' champions. It takes time to build a rapport, four years is more than enough time.

Yankowskas & Coughlin are looking to build up momentum leading into US nationals where they should rise easily in teh standings. They had a good debut this weekend, skating a touching tribute to John's mother in their long program. John's mother passed away earlier this year, and so they have dedicated this season's long program to her memory. As they finished the program, John was obviously emotional. If they keep refining their programs they will be a force to reckon with in January.

Russia has reason to celebrate with their new to seniors pair of Vera Bazarova & Yuri Larinov taking silver in their debut. They are the classic Russian pairs team. Channelling classic Russian ballet, this team harkens back to the greats of Russian skating. If their senior debut is any indication of what is to come, we can be sure that Russia will not be off of the Olympic podium in their home country. After a dismal outlook for pairs and dance last year, Russia seems to be finding a foothold to reclaim their dominance. Hopefully it isn't too late.

The Ice Dance event saw Meryl Davis & Charlie White win gold easily. It's obvious that they are hungry for the top spot of the World podium and their new programs do not let them rest on last year's success. Their season debut sent a message to the rest of the world class field that they are ready to take that next step. They are well on their way to doing what Belbin & Agosto couldn't - win a World title. With their main rivals Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir out with an injury - Tessa recently went through surgery and is out for the Grand Prix - they have the perfect opportunity to lay claim to the season.

The NHK also was the senior debut of the new "Short Dance" which is a combination of the Compulsary and Original dances. Admittedly, when the news broke that CDs were being done away with, many were upset with the change - while many of the ice dancers, especially from Igor Shpilband's camp, like the change. However it seems that, so far, the Short Dance is a success and blends much more seamlessly than many thought possible. It did not throw the seasoned skaters at all, and Meryl and Charlie won that portion of the event convincingly.

American siblings, Maia & Alex Shibutani marked their senior debut with a bronze medal finish and hope for a still growing still prosperous American Ice Dance program. They are the latest senior team from the stables of Igor Shpilband & Marina Zoueva out of Michigan. The brother sister pair created buzz around 2008 as being the next IT team, and so far the predictions have been true. After a freak fall in their footwork in the Short Dance where Alex's blade got caught in Maia's skirt, tearing the fabric, they came back to skate a beautiful waltz in their free dance. The duo grew up a lot over the summer and offer a light and mature look to the ice. They're looking to make a huge splash at nationals, and with Emily Samuelson & Evan Bates out due to a freak accident that ended with Evan going to the hospital for surgery and stitches in his foot, Maia and Alex are an almost lock at this point for a podium placement, and it's well deserved.

Overall, NHK was a successful debute of the 2010/11 season. Skate Canada is up next, with another batch of skaters looking to take hold of the new Olympic Cycle. It's a great post Olympic season!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

30 Days of Me: Day Nine

Day 9: A Picture You Took

Once again I am remiss in blogging. Scrapbooking is taking up all of my time! I swear it's awful and wonderful all at the same time. I have decided there's just no way I will get the book done before my trip that starts in 12 days. I have so much to get done before the trip that I can't just focus on the book. I have to get the snow tires put on the truck (made an appointment for thursday, better late than never!), an oil change, I have a dental appointment next week (November 2) which I'm thinking of moving back till after Christmas. Fundage is tight and this is just a teeth cleaning - I think - so it's not a total need to have at the moment. But then again I probably SHOULD so I don't know. I also have a hair appointment the day before I fly down to Seattle and it's going to be a bit of a change.

I'm headed over to my grandparents' house in an hour or two with the two pugs. I haven't been over there in ages due to the fact that, well... yeah. They have a third wheel that not only knows how to push buttons, but I truly feel works for evil instead of good. He considers me the spawn of Satan because of my dad and former Pastor's teachings. Which tells you something right there: Pastor Dean preaches the Truth unashamedly. This third wheel has never heard him preach but has a hatred for him. Interesting. How do you know he is dangerous to you when you've never met the man much less heard him preach? I've felt the very real need to stay clear of this family member when at all possible and that means I don't go over to visit the people I love dearly. It's a catch 22. I convinced my parents last year to help with the Iditarod mainly because I did  not want to be in the situation I found myself in a couple years ago where he physically came at me. God stopped him from hitting me, but my reaction to the whole thing scared me more than the violence. I cannot be alone with him, period.

Anyway this all has nothing to do with the actual subject line, so I will now share a photo I took (which is what I did with the other two posts, but whatever!). This photo was taken a couple of weekends ago during the KCHS vs SoHi Small Schools State Championship game. Despite best efforts, Kenai did not defend their title. But I still got some great shots. I am loving my new 100mm-400mm lens! You can view all of my photos from the semi-finals and championship games in this facebook album -  - please feel free to tag anyone you recognize as I am 7 years out of high school and know next to no one on the field!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

30 Days of Me: Day Eight

Day 8: A Photo that makes you angry/sad

First off, sorry for not updating regularly. I have been busy scrapbooking, trying to get on top of the mountain of memories. So far I haven't even made a dent! UGH! This is what I get for being a slacker for six years.

Now, onto the topic. This photo was taken in Nenana, AK this year in their little walk through mueseum (which is in the old railway station). I never knew these plaques existed, but they were commissioned after the winner of the Iditarod each year and only 500 (I think) were made. Not sure how one acquired one. This plaque is of 4time Iditarod Champion, Susan Butcher. Susan was every Alaskan girl's hero in the 80s and 90s. She was the second woman to win the race (Libby Riddles was the first winning in 1985, after which Susan took over), and was loved by just about everyone who followed the race.

Susan died just a few years ago after a long and brave fight with cancer. I never got to meet her, though my grandparents were huge supporters of her and received many cards and letters from her throughout the years.

Just makes me sad, I suppose, but also proud of a true Alaskan woman.

Friday, October 8, 2010

30 Days of Me: Day Seven

Day Seven: A Picture That Makes Me Happy

Oh there are so many photos that make me happy, photography is my passion! So I will grab my randomizer and have one pop it up...

This was taken last year. It's in Kenai King. 40lbs of awesome, baby! It was so much fun, and a great memory to share with the family! I tried to hold it up for the picture but she wasn't dead and my mom was none too quick to take the picture and she started thrashing around and I dropped her. Hence the reason my daddy's holding her and I've got my fingers extended with fish goop all over them. I was sooooooo excited about my "big fish". It was my first King out of the Kenai River and my fourth King in my entire life (caught three at age nine and then couldn't get another one to save my life until age 24!). It was a great day, had a lot of fun. Actually that whole week was a great break from work and life and just like old times (minus Erin).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

30 Days of Me: Day Six

Day Six: Whatever Tickles Your Fancy...

Oh yay! A theme where I just get to ramble on (for 18 pages... FRONT AND BACK!). Not too hard on most days, but for the last month or so I've had massive writers block. So I will try to do an update on what is going on at this point.

Last week I was in Kenai hanging with the family (as much as possible, they are busy people). The first night Mom, Ms Joy and I went to see "You Again" the new movie starring Kristen Bell, Jaime Lee Curtis and Segourney Weaver (Bette White,Victor Garbor and Kristen Chenoweth are in supporting roles). It's a sweet film, completely clean (SHOCKING) and had some funny moments. Though most of the laughing I did was not so much at the movie but at Joy as she is a riot! She's one of those people you HATE having sit behind you in a film because she talks at the characters, but sitting next to her was a blast!

The rest of the week was spent watching movies, tv, and playing games as the weather was horrendous. Saturday I had two photo shoots, which went fairly well. A toddler who was not interested in sitting still for family photos made the day a little difficult, but I ended with a senior photo shoot which was a blast. Drive home was uneventful, but the weather was icky so no fall photos in the mountains. Sad day.

Now I'm just counting down the days until our trip! So excited!

Monday, October 4, 2010

30 Days of Me: Day Five

Day Five: Favorite Quote

I have a link at the top of my blog with a lot of my favorite quotes. However I will highlight the one I used for my senior quote, because it's one that I fail to live by, but want to. It was first quoted in 1997 by figure skating champion Scott Hamilton after he was diagnosed with cancer. After all of the trials that guy's gone through, the idea that he still lives by this mantra speaks volumes.

"The only disability in life is a bad attitude."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

ABC's of Me

I was tagged on facebook, but their notes program is being stupid, so I figured I'd put it here, at least for now. It will eventually transfer over to facebook so I can delete this later I suppose.

You've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with the ABC's of YOU. At the end, choose people to be tagged. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you - but not in a creepy stalker kind of way. (To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your ABC's of Me, tag 26 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

A - Quarter century
B - Bed size: Double
C - Chore you hate: Cleaning the bathroom. It's covered in germs! (cookies to those who get the movie reference)
D - Dog's name: Yuka Marie and Bubba Jack
E - Essential start your day item: Shower
F - Favorite color: All shades of blue
G - Gold or Silver: Gold
H - Height: 5'7"
I - Instruments you play(ed): Trumpet, TC Baritone
J- Job title: Professional Photographer
K - Kid(s): Hopefully some day, gotta get me a man first.
L -Living arrangements: With my aunt and her SO.
M - Mom's name: Sue
N - Nicknames: Toni, Tonichelle, Toni the Tree, DooDoo,
O - Overnight hospital stay other than birth: never
P - Pet Peeve: people eating loudly/with their mouth open. There's no reason to smack your lips so freaking loud I can hear you over two televisions... but Gaylord has that talent. (and I think he does it on purpose when he wants me out of the room. It's called just tell me to boot it, I'll go.)
Q - Quote from a movie: Oh dear I have so many, first one to pop in my head: "Me, I'm dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly, it's the honest ones you have to watch out for because you can never predict when they will do something incredibly... stupid."
R - Right or left handed: Right
S - Siblings: adopted brother Duane and Sisters in Christ Erin, Kassy and Betsy!
T - Time you wake up: When the dog wakes me up
U - Underwear: always
V - Vegetable you dislike: all of them lol
W - Ways you run late: playing online
X- Xylophone: Always fun to bang away and make noise.
Y- Yummy food you make: I make a killer moose sausage gravy
Z - Zoo favorite: TIGERS

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Taste the Freedom!

In two days I will leave the world of Federal employment and embark on a journey that - hopefully - takes me to successful business person. My job with the Census ends on Friday, yes, this friday, and I am not jumping into another job. It makes no sense to do serious job hunting when I have two trips in the span of four months, one of which is three weeks long. No employer in their right mind would hire someone who is going to turn around and go on extended vacation twice.

So it's been one of those, "Ok, God, what next?" type situations. He's laid upon my heart that I just need to bite the bullet and dive into the photography business once and for all. Why would He give me a talent and then not allow me to use it to my full potential. So I'm prayerfully considering my options. I am thinking that possibly by next spring/summer I may be moving back down to Kenai. This is not even close to a done deal, but the over saturation of photographers in my area in Anchorage is troublesome. All of my friends up here already have their preferred photographer - and I am not that person - well, not all, but most. I have  more of a clientele down on the Peninsula. Problem is I still don't have the option of living on my own. Not that I have that option up here. But, with dad's new Garage Majahal he's building I think I might be able to build a studio out of it (that can be swapped out for the cars when it's not in use lol) and that can suppliment my income drastically as many people aren't going to want to do winter portraits when the temp dips below zero (or freezing for that matter, and I can't blame 'em!).

I know God is moving me somewhere, just not where. The Sunday School program at ABT is getting a shake up and -come the end of October- there will no longer be small classes at the 11am hour. Basically my class will be no more. They are making a jr. childrens church which sounds like a lot of fun, but I've been going back and forth as to whether or not to take a break, and I'm taking this opportunity as a sign that God's making sure I don't burn out. The last two years I have definitely felt that I'm getting close to that. It will be nice to hear Preacher on Sunday morning. I haven't attended a Sunday MORNING service at ABT in almost five years. Not counting Christmas and Easter. It's something I definitely miss. Growing up there wasn't a Children's church or 'extended session' option, you just went into service and learned to be quiet and behave. Still feel that's the way to go, but understand that its not everyone's idea of a good time.

This could also make a move to Kenai easier as I wouldn't be leaving the Children's ministry short staffed.

So there's a lot to consider. But, first, I have to build up the business now and get my name out. I've got somewhat of an online presense, which I am working on expanding, and then I need to look at advertising options around Anchorage and the Peninsula. Prayers for all of this - as well as encouragement and advice - are always welcome. I'm not sure where God wants me to go exactly, but I do feel this is the correct course.