This is the Schneider-Farris Family's Blog. Keep up with what we are doing by logging into this site regularly! (The reason this site is called "Tragedy and Triumph" is that when I first founded this site, my husband, Dan, had been in a horrible accident, and he recovered. His recovery was a miracle! Go back to the 2005 archives to read our story.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

There Is No Place Like Home!

Yesterday, we returned home to Colorado after being gone for 3 weeks. Actually, Rebekah and Joel left home four weeks ago, and Dan, Annabelle, and Jo Ann left three weeks ago.

Little did we know then that Rebekah would break her foot in Lake Placid and that Rebekah and Joel would end up in California with us since Tiffany's ice dancers left Lake Placid a week early.

We are so glad though that Rebekah and Joel somehow made it to California (because my dad and mom came to the rescue and drove to Albany to get them) and that our whole family got together in Long Beach.

We are also glad Dan's father is okay and out of the hospital.

Since we didn't know Rebekah and Joel were going to drive back to Colorado with us, our little car was VERY FULL on our drive home. The trip took about 35 hours.

We had to purchase a soft rooftop luggage carrier so we could get everything in. That carrier ended up getting attached to our ski rack and miraculously stayed on top of our car for the trip!

It took awhile to get things packed, so we didn't end up pulling out of southern California until midnight Friday night 8-22. Driving at night was planned so we'd miss the desert heat and that plan was successful.

We ate breakfast in Kingman, Arizona on Saturday morning.

By lunchtime, we were in Flagstaff. We pulled into a Target parking lot there. Dan and Annabelle napped for about 2 hours in that parking lot while Joel and Rebekah and Jo Ann ate lunch in Target and bought a few things.

Around 3:15 PM, we stopped at the Meteor Crater in Winslow, Arizona and enjoyed the museum and saw a great wonder of the world. We were there a couple of hours. It was raining there.

At 8:00 PM, we stopped for dinner at Cracker Barrel in Gallup, New Mexico. Dinner ended at 9:00 PM and we wondered if we should look for a motel, but when the first one we stopped at didn't take pets, we moved on.

At around 10:00 PM, we pulled into a truck stop in Grants, New Mexico and slept for a couple of hours. Then we moved on to Albuquerque and bought gas at around 12:30 AM.

Three hours later, Jo Ann woke up and Dan informed her we'd passed Sante Fe and were almost to Las Vegas, New Mexico. We found a rest area south of Las Vegas and slept for another hour.

We then stopped in Las Vegas for gas. At 8:00 AM we stopped at a Denny's in Raton and took the dog for a walk and had breakfast.

At 9:30 AM we headed north and passed the Colorado border. The rest of the trip was easy. The kids slept for most of it!

We pulled into our Colorado Springs garage at about noon on Sunday! It didn't take long before Dan and Joel and Rebekah went to bed. Annabelle and Jo Ann unpacked a bit, showered, and also slept. Annabelle stated she never wanted to get in a car again! Chinese food was delivered in the late afternoon after a nap.

It is good to be home. We miss the beach and we miss family and friends in California, but...

There is no place like home. There is no place like home. There is no place like home!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Long Beach Reflections

My first memories of Long Beach go back to about 1960. I was a pre-schooler living in Sacramento. My father was a physician in the Air Force and was stationed at Mather Air Force Base in Sacramento.

We boarded a plane and flew directly from Sacramento to Long Beach to see my grandparents. It was a short vacation.

I remember my grandparents huge house on Granada Avenue. It was the biggest house in the neighborhood and walking distance from the beach. I remember Grandpa waving good-bye to us as we waited to fly back home.

A year later, my dad's time in the Air Force ended and our family returned to southern California and settled in the San Fernando Valley. Every single Sunday, we drove from the Valley to Long Beach to visit my grandparents. Eventually, we moved to Belair, which was a bit closer to Long Beach.

Once in awhile, we'd go to the beach or visit Grandpa's store on Pine Avenue. Sometimes the entire family would go out to dinner at the Katella Deli in Los Alamitos.

My father's roots in Long Beach went back to 1928 when his parents moved there. In fact, all of my granfather's brothers and sisters lived in Long Beach. There was Tom, Irving, Max, David, Rose, Dena, Edith, and another sister in my grandfather's clan. My father grew up surrounded by aunts and uncles and cousins and a grandmother in Long Beach who loved him so much. The stories my father tells of those days almost seem like something out of a movie. Sometimes I wish I was around to enjoy those happy times.

Grandpa owned a jewelery store on Pine Avenue in downtown Long Beach called Maxwells. It was a family business. Some of Grandpa's brothers worked there. Going to Maxwells was an adventure for me as a child. Grandpa gave us watches and alarm clocks I recall. I remember being fascinated at how big the store was and sometimes playing inside the offices on the floor above the store.

Eventually, my parents left southern California. My dad became the Director of Pathology at the University of Health Sciences/Chicago Medical Schoool and my brother Billy and I moved to Colorado to train at our figure skating. My sister Lynnellen stayed in California. In 1976, my Grandpa Max died. I remember being back in Long Beach for the funeral.

In 1978, when I graduated from college, I left Colorado for Long Beach and moved into my grandparents house. That was when I got to know my Grandma Fannie. She really had not been a widow for long and missed my Grandpa Max. Most of Grandpa's siblings were still alive then and I enjoyed getting to know all of them. They lived walking distance from Grandma's Belmont Shore home.

In early September, 1978, I met my husband to be, Dan Farris at a youth camping trip. The group took a boat to Catalina Island. Dan and I fell in love that weekend.

In April of 1979 we were married in Dan's parents' backyard. Dan was born in Long Beach and we were married in the house he grew up in. It's funny, but until I met Dan, I had no idea there was an entire section of Long Beach that was not walking distance to the beach. His family lived in an area of Long Beach called Los Altos.

When Dan and I first were married, all of Dan's brothers and sisters lived in Long Beach, or lived nearby. There were six kids in Dan's family. Dan's grandmother lived in an apartment just around the corner from Dan's oldest sister. We could bike from our house to Dan's parents house and also to Dan's sister's house and to Grama Bee's house. Sometimes we'd see Dan's brother Pat at Long Beach State. Both Dan and I did some graduate work there and rode our bikes to the campus. Dan rode his bike to work.

Two of my closest friends, Marion and Helen, also moved to Long Beach. Both of them visited me there, and decided to stay! Helen lived in a house in Seal Beach for awhile and also lived ON a boat! Marion and Dan worked at the VA Hospital. Marion met her husband to be, Bruce Curtis, while living in Long Beach.

Dan and I left Long Beach in April of 1988, but our link there still remains. Dan's parents still live there and so does Dan's brother Mike. Dan has a cousin or two living there.

My sister, Lynnellen, also settled in Long Beach. She bought a home there and raised her three children there. She now lives in the the same house on Granada that I visited every single weekend of my childhoood.

My family now owns a condo right next to The Bay. That bay is the same bay that my father and grandparents swam in in the 1930s and 1940s! It's the bay that my grandmother took me to play in. It's the bay where Dan and his siblings learned to swim.

So many memories are there. I remember walking through the streets of Belmont Shore in 1978 with Dan and falling more and more in love. I remember waiting at the bus stop with my Grandma Fannie when I was a little girl. I remember going to the beach with my parents there when I was a child. I remember going to the movies on 2nd Street and buying candy at a store in Belmont Shore. I remember shopping with my grandmother at Howie's Market and eating meals with my husband at Hof's Hut or Hamburger Henry. I remember seeing Grandpa Max's brothers and sisters on the streets and visiting them. I remember holiday celebrations at my grandparents house. I remember riding bikes with my husband Dan through Long Beach for hours and hours every day during our early days of marriage. I fondly remember the early days of our marriage when Dan and I ate out every night at a Long Beach coffee shop or restaurant! I remember all the special friends the two of us made in Long Beach.

Now, my own children have Long Beach memories. They will remember the summer of 2009 where they played on the beach, walked on the beach, flew kites, rode kayaks, and also visited with family and friends. I am so glad that the place my father grew up at and the place my grandparents and my husband's family decided to call home can also be a place that will bring happy thoughts and smiles to my family!

Dan's Parents Were in a Documentary About Long Beach During World War Two

Dan's parents were in a documentary about Long Beach during World War Two! We went to Long Beach State on 8-19-09 to see the premiere of the film. It may end up on PBS. I sure hope we can buy the DVD!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Joel's Birthday 8-17-09

We always celebrate birthdays together as a family. This year, Joel's birthday was celebrated at Bolsa Chica Beach (since we are on vacation in California). We also went out to dinner and continued our tradition of taking photos while holding up french fries (Joel's favorite food) after dinner!

Monday, August 17, 2009

My 40 Years Plus Friendship With Marion Ennis Curtis

Have you ever seen the movie Beaches with Bette Midler? It is one of my favorite movies because it reminds me of the friendship I've had with Marion Ennis Curtis that has gone on for over 40 years.

Marion and I met in Squaw Valley, California, when I was 10 years old. The year was 1966. My family went there for a vacation. We combined skating with a time away from home. We returned the next summer. Then, in 1968, I asked my parents if I could be a "McKinstry kid" and stay all summer long.

Juli McKinstry's mother, Mary McKinstry, ran a boarding house for young figure skaters. It was like skating camp and I wanted to be part of it.

That's the summer that Marion and I became best friends. What drew me to Marion was that she didn't try to be in the "In Crowd." She just worked hard at her skating. We began walking to and from the rink together and doing things like going swimming and hiking together every day.

When that summer ended, we wrote letters to keep in touch. Every summer after that we just picked up where we left off.

I believe our last summer in Squaw Valley was in 1971, but our letter writing continued.

Marion visited my family in southern California when she had just turned 16. We went to Disneyland together and my parents even let her drive their car to Westwood Village in Los Angeles! We went to the movies and ate out and our friendship grew deeper.

We both went off to college and we continued writing letters. Everytime I opened a letter from Marion, I was so happy.

When 1975 Nationals was in Oakland, Marion came to watch me skate. When 1976 Pacific Coast was in Berkeley, she came again.

Then, in December of 1977, I took a crazy trip to California over Christmas Vacation. I had just quit competitive skating. Marion and I reunited during that trip and I stayed in her San Jose apartment for about a week.

She had some extra vacation time, so after my vacation, in January of 1978, she flew back to Colorado with me and stayed in my tiny Colorado College dorm room for about a month! That is when our childhood friendship turned into an adult one. During that trip, Marion auditioned for Ice Follies, we went skiing, swimming at my family's Colorado condo, and just enjoyed one another.

I graduated from college in June of 1978. Marion completed her California Teaching Credential.

Our letters to one another continued.

I moved to southern California in 1978 and married Dan Farris in April of 1979.

Right after our honeymoon in Colorado, actually just a week later, Dan and I decided to visit Marion in northern California.

Less than a year later, we visited Marion again. Things were not working out with her new teaching job, and I suggested she visit us in southern California.

She not only visited us, but moved to Long Beach shortly after that!

Then, she and Dan both ended up with jobs at the Long Beach V.A.

Marion lived in various places during her years in Long Beach, but what is most significant is that Marion rented a room in my Grandma Fannie's house for a year or two. Marion even called my grandmother "Grandma!"

In 1983, I began teach skating with Ice Capades, and in 1984 I began teaching at Ice Capades Chalet in Costa Mesa.

That's when I talked Marion into teaching skating there in addition to working full-time at the V.A.

It was great fun teaching skating together. I left Costa Mesa to teach at Paramount in 1985. Marion eventually taught at Norwalk. Then Marion took her talented student, Caroline Song, to Paramount. Again, we got to teach and skate together.

After we left Long Beach in 1988 for San Francisco, Marion stayed in southern California and met her husband to be, Bruce Curtis.

What is ironic is that Dan and I met Bruce before Marion did. Bruce had a friend named Meg Lawson who introduced us to Bruce (on the day we left Long Beach for San Francisco) on Easter Sunday 1988. Bruce even prayed for us that day!

In 1989, Bruce and Marion were married and I was the matron-of-honor at her wedding. A week or two earlier, Dan and I had renewed our wedding vows in San Francisco, and Marion was my maid of honor at that ceremony.

We visited Marion and Bruce a few times during their early days of marriage. In late 1991, we moved to Colorado.

Whenever we visited California, we tried to link up. Our letters and phone calls continued.

We shared our joys of having children. Marion inspired me to homeschool my children.

I introduced Marion to inline skating and Pic Skating. We love inline skating together whenever we get together.

We wrote HOW TO JUMP AND SPIN ON INLINE SKATES together. Bruce did the editing.

We began the International Inline Figure Skating Association together.

We shared our life's joys and sorrows.

No matter what, Marion told me that she was my friend through thick and thin. She's always been there for me.

In March of 2009, we went to the World Figure Skating Championships together. Marion made me a beautiful quilt (in honor of our friendship) before the event and gave it to me the first night of the competition.

Our families shared an evening together in a private suite during Worlds.

What was/is amazing is that my parents have bought a condo in the Naples area of Long Beach that is walking distance from Marion's husband's Bruce's father's home. Her family can stay there and we can stay in my family's condo and we can vacation together. Worlds we stayed (walking distance from one another) in Long Beach and drove into Los Angeles to see Worlds.

Then, during the summer of 2009 we connected again to vacation together in Long Beach.

Not many people have a friendship like ours. Our lives continue to connect. Things are easier now. Email, Facebook, and online chats have taken the place of letters. We continue to enjoy one another and I know my friend Marion will be there for me through thick and thin!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My Niece Phoebe Wins National Showcase!

I usually boast about one of my own three kids, but today I'm going to boast about my brother, Billy's daughter Phoebe Schneider!
Today, 8-15-09, Phoebe became the US National Showcase Champion!

(Unfortunatelly, my family is on vacation in California and my parents are in Illinois, so we didn't get to be at the event.)

The way my sister-in-law, Amy, described it is as follows:

Phoebe won the qualifying round. She advanced to the finals and won that too.

That qualified her for the Parade of Champions which was like an ice show with spotlights. All the winners performed. Everyone waited in anticipation to find out who would win the entire competition. (This reminds me of a Miss America Pageant.)

The podium was set up at center ice. No one knew who the winners were.

4th place was announced. Then 3rd. Then 2nd.

Then the announcement came:

"The National Showcase Junior Parade of Champions Champion is Phoebe Schneider!"

Phoebe skated out to receive her award and "Mr. Debonair" Richard Dwyer interviewed her in front of a the audience!

The President of US Figure Skating presented the awards!

Phoebe is a US National Champion!

The entire Schneider family is SO EXCITED and HAPPY for Phoebe! We also know that Billy and Amy and Charlie must be so very proud.

Just Some Photos

There's not much to say. I just wanted to share some of my favorite photos from yesterday. The water and the beach has been the best thing for our family!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rebekah's Foot Will Be OKAY!

Yesterday, Rebekah saw Dr. Anatol Podolsky (an orthopedic surgeon in Newport Beach who has treated Sasha Cohen and Evan Lysacek ).

He says Rebekah can get back on the ice and take it slowly in about 3 or 4 weeks! Nothing in the foot is displaced, but there is a fracture. It looks like we'll have to begin with simple stroking, and from there, Rebekah can decide what she can and cannot do.

Rebekah will proabably not be able to do pairs or freestyle for quite a while though, but Rebekah and Joel will be able to compete in Midwesterns.

Joel was so happy to hear that his sister's foot will be okay. He misses skating with her.

It turned out the Anatol Podolsky went to school in the Soviet Union with my good friend Larisa Genderalik. Larisa tells me he was a competitive ice dancer who always wanted to be a doctor.

He now treats many of the figure skaters in southern California. He also has written articles about the relationship of weight training and jumping for figure skaters.

We are so fortunate to have been able for Rebekah to be seen by him! He knows skating, so he knew exactly what Rebekah will be doing on the ice.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Seal Beach 8-11-09

Today, we decided to go to Seal Beach which has bigger waves and a cool pier!

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Jo Ann Schneider Farris has participated in skating for most of her life as a competitor, coach, and author.