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.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In Memory of John Richard Farris - My Huband's Father

I first met John Richard Farris in the fall of 1978. It was shortly after I met my huband to be, Dan Farris. Dan fell in love with me very quickly. One day, he asked if I wanted to come with him to his parents house for dinner.

Dan's family reminded me of a grown-up Brady Bunch. The Farris family's home was a small house in the Los Altos area of Long Beach. Everything inside of it was perfect. His mom made perfect meals and everything was so neat and clean inside.

Dan's dad thought I looked very young and told Dan to date someone closer to his age! At the time, I was 22 years old and Dan was 25.

A month or two later, we took Dan's parents out for lunch and told them we were engaged.

Only about 5 months later, on April 7, 1979, we were married. I became a Farris.

The photo in this blog post shows Dad and Mom Farris surrounded by his six children, their spouses, and their two grandchildren on that day. (John is wearing a flower on his jacket and is standing next to Freda who is in a green dress. She is also wearing a flower.)

Dan's family was very close. One reason for that was because of their father. He loved his children and grandchildren very much. Meals and holidays and family visits were the center of the household.

During the years that Dan and I lived in Long Beach as a married couple (1979 to 1988), we could always go to Mom and Dad Farris' house and feel at home.

Dan's father loved to make things. Almost all the furniture in their house was made by Dan's dad. His favorite thing to do was to be inside the garage working on a project.

Christmas at the Farris household was the type of Christmas I only thought existed on television. Real candles were put on the tree. The tree was always decorated beautifully and a certain way. Every member of the family somehow got there on Christmas Day. Celebrating being a family went on for hours.

There were also wonderful birthday celebrations and get-togethers on other holidays, and spur of the moment dinners. The family always prayed together before meals.

Dan loved his father so much. Once in awhile, they would take long walks together. Dan's parents took long walks together every day. They would also ride bikes.

Dan and I moved to San Francisco in April of 1988. From that point forward, our visits to Dan's parents were planned. We no longer could just drop by for dinner. For awhile, we made it a priority to be there every Christmas. After we moved to Colorado in late 1991, that became harder to do.

Still, Mom and Dad Farris were always there. Dan wrote his father letters every week. Since his father's hearing wasn't great, that had become the best way to communicate.

John and Freda Farris had 6 children: Sandy, Pat and Mike (identical twins), Jack, Dan, and Penny. Their house's walls were covered with wonderful photos showing the family's life history.

Sandy was born during World War 2, and Dan's dad had served in the military. When Sandy was a baby, Dan's mom had been a classic "Rosie the Riveter." After John returned, she became a full time wife and mother.

When Dan was little, the family bought a new home in the Los Altos area of Long Beach. The kids walked to the neighborhood schools. Dan told me that every day when his dad would return from work, that he'd hug each child.

Anyway, John Farris' life was a special one. All six of his children loved him dearly. He lived 90 years. He was a self-taught engineer who worked for Douglas Aircraft for years. He had nine grandchildren, 4 great-grand children, and one great-great grandchild.

His six children and wife and 3 of his grandchildren were gathered around him when he passed away on February 22, 2010.

I wish I could hug everyone whose life was touched by John Richard Farris. He was truly was a great man. I feel so honored to be a part of his loving family.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Figure Skating in Vancouver

Yesterday I went with Annabelle to a skating rink in Vancouver. I expected to walk into a rink with a public session filled with people of all ages and skating levels, but was I in for a surprise!

Here's what happened and how it came about:

Karina Tjew is a twelve year old pre-novice (US equivalent intermediate) level figure skater. Her mother, Jessica, wrote me just before I left for the Olympics. She is one of my Figure Skating readers. Jessica had a question for me related to sports injuries. I replied that I could not answer now, since I was preparing to leave for Vanouver.

Jessica replied that she lived in Vancouver and invited Annabelle to skate, swim, and play with her children! It also turned out that the Tjew family had spent a summer training at the World Arena in Colorado Springs! Even though they'd been there, we were not sure we had met at the World Arena, but felt like old friends.

Anyway, Annabelle has spent a few days with the Tjew's. She's been skating, playing, swimming, and having fun. Yesterday, was my turn to join them.

We visited two different rinks yesterday. One had six ice sheets and the other had eight! Can you imagine?! I didn't know ice facilities existed with 8 rinks in one building!

I learned some things about the Canadian figure skating programs. Did you know that figure skaters are called Senior B (kids that can't do double Axels yet) and Senior A (kids with double Axels)?

At some training rinks, a black curtain is put across the observation area that looks into the rink when the skaters train, so the parents can't watch! I got to see the curtain at the rink with 8 sheets. The actual training ice sheet there is called Skate Canada Academy of Excellence.

Kids that are not quite that advanced, skate in something called "Junior Academy." Junior Academy skaters skate three days a week, for three hours, and are taught in a group type format, with private lessons also available. At that level, there is no black curtain.

At the rink with 8 ice sheets, I got to observe Junior Academy kids practicing. In the U.S., those type of kids are usually on public sessions doing basic skills or ISI routines, and they are playing and talking and eating snacks, etc. In Canada, these same kids were working hard. They were serious and at work. I'd never seen anything like that before.

The Junior Academy skating program may be similar to US Figure Skating's Bridge Program, but seems to be much more established. U.S. rinks can't devote three hours a day, after school, to children of just one level, but a rink with 8 sheets can have hockey, low level figure skating, beginning group lessons, and advance training all going on at the same time! Wow!

Some of the other ice sheets had a few hockey skaters practicing. No games were going. One rink had someone working on skating skills, others seemed to be doing drills, and in another rink a goalie was at practice.

There was open freestyle sessions going on at both the rink with 6 ice sheets and the rink with 8 sheets. Annabelle and Karina skated at the rink with 6 ice sheets on the open training session.

The open training session, in the rink which looked like a freestyle, had a limit of ten skaters allowed on it. It was two hours long, and the figure skaters that were training on it were at work the entire two hours. Annabelle is not used to skating two hours in a row without a break, so she got off for a bit. She got a lot done though and landed some good double Salchows and double toe loops.

Most of the coaches did not have their skates on. They taught from the rail. There was a little boy who was more at the Junior Academy level, being coached by someone who was wearing skates. Jessica told me that when a session is limited in size to ten kids, and is full, that the coaches can't be on the ice, and must teach from the boards.

Karina Tjew is such a good skater! I was so impressed. She is so consistent. She did double Lutz combinations over and over and never missed any of her double jumps, but her double Axel is not consistent yet. Her Bielman is gorgeous! In the two hour training session, she must have run through her program two or three times and she also did her short program. Her programs were perfect.

In Canada, there are no Moves in the Field, so one thing that was missing from the session, was seeing kids warming up with moves or doing moves at all. Annabelle, practiced the few Novice moves she knows, but everyone else was jumping over and over.

Jessica mentioned to skate, that all Canadian clubs require figure skaters to provide a Canadian or US Figure Skating number. I am glad I brought Annabelle's number with me!

After visiting those rinks, I truly felt that Canada is a foreign country! The way figure skating is approached is so different there.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Vancouver Adventure Update 2-17-10

Being AT the Olympics in Vancouver has been a blast, but I am so tired! I seem to be constantly on the go.

I've attended three figure skating events (Pairs short program, Pairs long program, and Men's short program), one day of practices (pairs), gotten lost in Vancouver several times, met people from all over the world, gone for hours forgetting to eat or drink, and I've walked so much that my body and feet ache, and there are blisters on my feet! Also, I seem to be running on fumes, since I stay up late at night writing my Figure Skating updates and then I get up early to write more.

I'm having a great time anyway!

I've met so many people (they all speak different languages) and I've had adventure after adventure.

Yesterday, I finally got to and from the figure skating venue, the Pacific Coliseum, without getting lost! On the way, I met a skating family from Boston. One of their children had been very, very sick and the family had been given a trip to the Olympics through the Make a Wish Foundation. The girls both had visited Colorado Springs and competed in the State Games. They were ice dancers. It was fun to hear about their skating. The Boston Globe was with them, following their adventure.

I've met people who have gone to more than one Olympics. I have met athletes and their parents. I've met Olympic volunteers. I've also seen familiar faces from home and seen friends from my skating past. I've met media people from all over the world. At the pairs long program, I had the best time talking to a television background story person from Moscow. At the men's short, I got to know a writer from Japan. I sat on the media bus with a reporter from Miami who has covered 9 Olympic games!

Where's Annabelle?

Annabelle has spent two nights with the Tjews, a skating family that lives in Vancouver. The Tjews spent the summer in Colorado Springs skating at the World Arena two years ago. Annabelle has gone skating and swimming with them and is having fun.

Today, I will take some time off from the Olympics, and spend the day with Annabelle and that family. I look forward to seeing her skate and perhaps skating myself. It will also be nice to travel somewhere in a car rather than by public transportation. People in Vancouver think nothing of walking and getting on the SkyTrain or buses, but I am not used to it. In Colorado Springs, I just get in my car and drive a few minutes to the World Arena. This takes much longer!

Larisa and her son Alex are still in Vancouver. They will get to stay until Saturday. They've had trouble getting Olympic tickets, but they did get to see the Men's short program and pairs practice ice. They've enjoyed going to downtown Vancouver and also hanging out where all the athletes and famous people hang out.

My Media Accreditation Makes Things Kind of Cool!

My media credential gives me access to every Olympic event and practice. It is overwhelming and exciting at the same time. It's so busy in the arena. The rink building, in my opinion, is very small and not big enough to host Olympic figure skating. When Worlds was in Los Angeles, the Staples Center was huge and could hold all the people in it that wanted to attend. This time, people can't get in. The lines for the restrooms and food are very, very long. I am always glad when I can escape to the quiet of the Press Media Centre in both the rink and downtown.

As I reflect and look back, I can't believe I've only been here four days! I wonder what the next four days will bring?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Annabelle and Jo Ann Are In Vancouver 2-13-10

It's been an adventure!

On Thursday morning, 2-11-10, Annabelle and Jo Ann boarded a plane from Denver to Seattle. All went hassles, and it was non-stop.

My cousin, Cherie Kadison Jay (who I haven't seen face to face in 21 years!) picked us up at the airport and took us to her house.

This photo shows Jo Ann and Annabelle smiling with Josh, Alex, and Cherie's dog, Sasha!

There is also a photo of Cherie's house in Seattle.

She also hosted my friend Larisa and her son Alex. Alex is 24 and very grown up, and has been great to have with us.

We had a great visit with Cherie's family on Thursday night. We got to see a local artist's work and ate dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory in Tacoma. We saw photos of my mom's side of the family and got to know Cherie's husband Tim and her son Josh.

On Friday afternoon, all four of us boarded a bus from the Seattle Airport to Vancouver called QuickCoach. It took about four hours to get to Vancouver from there, but it was a fun and relaxing trip. All went smoothly, including crossing into the Canadian border.

Larisa's relatives picked us up in downtown Vancouver and took us to the apartment we are staying in that is in a Vancouver suburb called Burnaby.

The apartment is in a high rise building and is on the 21st floor. It is a guest suite. There is a view from the balcony where we can see all the city lights, but by the time we went to bed, the lights had been turned off.

It's kind of a funny place. The suite is huge, but we have to go downstairs to a different area to use a shower, television, and kitchen! All four of us are sleeping in one huge room and there is only one key for all four of us to share, so we all need to stay together! Sheets are provided, but it looks like we may need to buy some towels, since the friend of Larisa's that is hosting us didn't have too many extra to spare.

There is a mall and library within walking distance.

Today we will get Jo Ann's Olympic media credential validated at the Olympic Village Family Hotel and explore Vancouver! We all hope to be at the Pairs Short Program event on Sunday.

I'll write more adventures as they come in!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

3 Kids - 5 Skating Tests Passed on Sunday, 2-7-10

We had a BIG day today, since all three kids took difficult figure skating tests.

Everyone passed!

Rebekah passed her Novice Moves in the Field test, Annabelle and Joel passed their Intermediate Pairs test, and Rebekah and Joel passed their Foxtrot compulsory dance test!

The kids passed everything with all three judges. We are so proud of our kids! They've worked so hard. Go....Joel, Rebekah, and Annabelle!

Blog Archive

About Me

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