October 30, 2021

While in Orlando there were a few brief moments of non karate fun.  Elizabeth quite enjoyed her first international flight and especially enjoyed all the palm trees and lizards.  Pretty much anywhere you went there would be a pile of tiny lizards scurrying across the ground in front of you.  There was also a pair of larger lizards that made their home in the light outside one of the doors of the hotel building.  Elizabeth nicknamed them Lizzie and Lizzo. She was very struck by how different the flora and fauna were from Canada.


Elizabeth spent her time waiting for things doing handstand push-ups, pistol squats and various other exercises (all of which make us sore just thinking about them).  They checked out some nearby attractions. Daria and Elizabeth went on the giant Ferris wheel and Elizabeth said she really enjoyed getting to see the whole city.  They sent a photo of the spinning thing of doom and I texted back that I hoped that they weren't going to try it.  Luckily Elizabeth decided that it wasn't something she really wanted to do (although a number of her teammates did go on it and said it wasn't nearly as terrifying as it looked).  They picked up some t-shirts and a pair of flip-flops and hung out by the pool.  The weather was absolutely amazing (25-30 degrees every day) and while it did pour it was mainly while they were indoors.


Due to short staffing most patios were closed so while we had originally intended for Brendan and Elizabeth to avoid indoor restaurants altogether in the end they did go to their first indoor restaurants since the beginning of the pandemic. There was a constant balance between wanting to join in with the rest of the team activities and wanting to avoid too much additional risk. Florida's attitudes towards masking and general pandemic distancing are quite different from ours, and this coupled with so many people was a bit nerve-wracking.


Poor Brendan found his ears got quite sore with all the masking as he hasn't had to wear a mask for an extended period yet. Elizabeth certainly enjoyed getting to eat out and sit with her teammates at the kids table.


Elizabeth said her favourite part was drinking gatorade by the pool and relaxing in the hot tub. Daddy apparently let her do whatever she wanted. "Basically everything I asked he said yes!". He says she didn't make any unreasonable requests. They went to Starbucks and Wawa "many times". Wawa is a gas station / convenience store and endless supply of gatorade. Apparently she got a lot of gatorade.


Overall they had a really amazing time and Elizabeth was not ready to leave Florida.

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October 28, 2021
WKC World Championships

In August Elizabeth qualified to go to the WKC World Karate Championships as part of team Canada. This year the championships were held in Orlando Florida. This obviously presented a number of challenges both pandemic and non pandemic related. We decided that we would assume that the pandemic situation would be more under control by the time we needed to go and pushed forward with the plan that we would be going. There was also a great deal of learning about how best to pack equipment for such travel.  In the end we managed to get everything into carry on luggage (with the exception of the bo staffs which fortunately we were able to send with another family who offered to take a whole pile of them).  We wanted to make sure that all of her gear and uniforms would arrive as not having them (even for a day or two) would mean being unable to compete.  Anyway in the end the hurdles were dealt with, the pandemic numbers were looking much better and everything was ready.


We drove to Montreal and flew from there to Orlando.  Elizabeth sat with teammate Daria and had a grand old time on the flight.  Upon arrival it was very obvious we weren't in Ottawa anymore as it was very warm despite being evening.  Elizabeth was extremely excited to see palm trees for the first time in person.  In the morning Elizabeth was registered and weighed in.  That evening after team photos the team had the first of two sparring seminars with Robbie Lavoie (multiple time world champion). Monday was forms and weapons eliminations.  Elizabeth moved forward to the finals in all 5 of her divisions and even placed 1st in hard style forms which kind of blew everyone's minds as she normally does worst in this division as it is her first and the nerves are still an issue at that point.  She also beat her longtime arch-rival Athena who has fairly consistently beat her for years.  Throughout the competition there were great moments as the team Canada members cheered each other on and shared words of encouragement with those who didn't make it to the finals.


During the competition Master John was in such a good mood and so pleased with how the team was doing that he decided to buy a bunch of the kids new weapons.  Elizabeth was presented with a shiny new bo after her creative weapons division and desperately wanted to use it for the finals but mean coach daddy said no way not wanting to mess up her timing on any of the fancier tricks.  It probably would have been fine but it didn't seem like a risk worth taking.  Regardless it was a super nice gesture on the part of Master John.


The next day was sparring eliminations and Elizabeth failed to advance to the gold medal match but did earn a bronze medal position. In the afternoon everyone got to hang out at the pool, enjoy the glorious weather and relax.  Many of the team Canada kids swam, threw a football around and generally had a fabulous time together.  It was really nice to see them making friends with their teammates from other parts of the country whom they had previously only really seen as competitors.


Wednesday was cheering day for Elizabeth as she didn't have any divisions of her own but instead got to support her teammates.  A couple of the other 11-12 girls from team Canada talked Elizabeth into joining them to register as a team for the team point fighting division the next day.  Daddy may or may not have had concerns over her doing this as it would mean 6 divisions the next day. The sparring would be first thus meaning if she got injured in the morning she might not be able to compete in her 5 finals that afternoon.  In the end though he kept his mouth shut and trusted in her abilities and training. The girls also talked Elizabeth into asking to try continuous team fighting. Master John told her "Elizabeth, you are a brave girl, but not this year."


Thursday was the team fight. Elizabeth lost her match but escaped injury and overall the girls managed to get the gold medal and be crowned world champions.  We also had our covid test (needed to get back into Canada) and then after the medal ceremony for the team fighting Elizabeth was straight into the finals for forms and weapons.  She didn't quite nail her hard style form and slipped to silver, but came back strong to keep silver position in classical forms.  Daddy then slipped out to get the results of the covid test since there was no line and a short break before traditional weapons.  Of course the internet connection died and it took longer than it should have to get the results and Daddy missed Elizabeth's traditional weapons final.  Elizabeth said it was just as well as she messed up one move and then had to improvise the middle.  Despite this she still maintained her third place.  She then stepped it up for creative weapons finishing 2nd and ended the day with her extreme routine in which she scored 3rd.  The extreme routine may not have gotten her a first place finish but it was definitely a huge crowd favourite with a roar of cheers after her amazing flip at the end.  One judge did score it as first place.  At this point her social media manager was a blubbering wreck and was just as glad to be wearing a mask and glasses huddled over his phone hidden away in the crowd.


Friday was the individual fighting finals in the morning (more cheering on of teammates and picking up her bronze for sparring).  When Elizabeth went to show Master John how she had done overall he was so pleased that he asked for a photo and then explained to the other head coaches that Elizabeth had done almost all of her training during the pandemic online and how proud he was of her incredible progress.  In the evening it was the grand championships where the winners of each of the adult divisions all face off against each other for a few grand champion titles and cash prizes.  While the level of competition throughout the whole week had really been exceptional this was really the best of the best and the level of skill was truly impressive.  Elizabeth was very inspired by all the other athletes and excited to get back in the dojo, especially now that she is allowed to try out her new bo! With the awards all handed out it was off to bed and back home very early in the morning.


It really was somewhat surreal that not only did Elizabeth actually make it to the world championships but she also made the finals in every division and then also won a medal in every division (the most on her team we believe).  She worked incredibly hard to get to this level and has improved tremendously even since nationals.  She was also incredibly humble about it all and when asked how her week had gone casually said "good".  To say that we are proud of her might be the understatement of the century.


Many many thanks are due to all the senseis and teammates that worked with Elizabeth to help make this such a positive experience. A special shout-out is owed to Sensei Cody who spent many, many hours working with Elizabeth over zoom, in the field outside and at the dojo to get her ready and of course to Master John.

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October 16, 2021
Happy Birthday Grandma

We celebrated Grandma J's birthday with our traditional lasagna, carrot cake and candles. Unfortunately the timing didn't work out to be able to celebrate with the Sunnyside crew as well but they had her over for dinner the following evening to make it a birthday weekend celebration.

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October 11, 2021
Thanksgiving Walk

We went for a walk around Hogs back with the whole family after Thanksgiving, except for Uncle Chris, Auntie Yukiko, Erika and Maria as they were not feeling well and Auntie Heather who was having car trouble.


The cousins enjoyed playing by the water for a few minutes. Uncle Dave and Brendan enjoyed taking pictures.


It was nice to catch up with Uncle Mark briefly at a distance and to see the fall colours. We biked to Hogs back and discovered we could take the chariot over the locks without detaching it!


Unfortunately Auntie Janice got a whiff of flavoured vape while at the falls and ended up in emerg, but aside from that it was a very nice walk with family.

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Uncle Dave walk photos

Uncle Dave took some photos while we were doing our Thanksgiving walk at Hogsback as well.

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September 12, 2021
Apple Picking

Apple picking is always a much loved activity (despite the unmentionable incident involving Elizabeth's nose from many years ago) and this year the kids were looking forward to it with great enthusiasm.  We managed to meet up with uncle Dave and auntie Karen's crew and enjoyed a nice hike through the woods followed by the traditional 30 seconds of apple picking.  Ok maybe 5 minutes.  It was very interesting to note the ages of the trees at various points throughout the orchard.

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