7.30.2012

Jordan is Out and Aly is In

Aly Raisman qualifies to All Around finals as the #1 for USA.  Gabby Douglas qualifies #2. [Photo Source:  NBCOlympics.com]
It was obvious that Aly was in shock and disbelief to find that she was in the #1 spot for All Around rankings after Team USA's qualification round.  So was Jordan and so was everyone else.  It was expected that the team would qualify for Team finals #1 but it was not expected that Aly would qualify for All Around finals.  It was supposed to be Gabby and Jordan according to expectation but due to the two athlete per country rule Jordan got bumped out.  Never mind that she is the current reigning World Champion and finished 4th among all the athletes in qualifications.  Rules are rules and even though she has trained her whole life for this and is obviously one of the best of the best she will not get the chance to compete in the All Around Finals.  My heart breaks for her.  She's done everything right and she deserves to be there.  But of course, so do Aly and Gabby.  Jordan made some mistakes and the judges were really hard on her on beam but even as I watched the competition nothing seemed amiss.  It's not like she fell or anything obvious.  An arched back on bars, a big balance break on beam and out of bounds on floor.  Not perfect, but neither was anyone else.  I just figured that Aly would be odd man out and was preparing to feel really bad for her because she works so hard yet never comes out on top.  Instead, Aly's hard work finally did pay off.  She rocked beam and her last event, floor was amazing.  This day belonged to her and with just one slightly off day for Jordan her dream was crushed.  We'll only see her in Team Finals and individual event finals on Floor.  I'm very happy for Aly and Gabby.  Especially Aly because has been so consistent for so many years and has improved so much on her form.  It's just such a shame for Jordan.  She seemed dazed after she saw the score board.  I think she wanted to head right out of the arena but was corralled back into the media area along with the rest of the team.  She barely held the tears back as she was interviewed afterwards.  This did not go as planned but she still has to put her disappointment aside and step up tomorrow for the team. 

Jordan Wieber burst into tears when she saw her name drop to 3rd [Photo Source:  NBCOlympics.com]
She's not the first deserving gymnast to ever be a victim of the two per country rule and she won't be the last unless it changes.  It should be about the best of the best and not the best of the best minus some athletes if their team is really, really good.  I think if you are in the top 8 but got bumped out because of the two per country rule then you should be allowed into finals.  If they must cap it at 24 then whomever is at the bottom should get bumped out.  It seems kind of ridiculous that person #24 who has absolutely no chance for an AA medal will get to compete for it but Jordan won't.  A rule that's supposed to encourage diversity and make things "fair" sure doesn't seem so fair right now.

Another upset of the games so far is Michael Phelps getting 4th place (no medal) to Ryan Lochte's win in the 400 IM finals.  I don't follow swimming but from what I can piece together it seems that Michael intended 2008 where he won 8 Gold medals to be his last Olympics but then ended up going for 2012 anyways.  It seems that while Ryan was training his butt off for the last four years Michael came into the competition unprepared and maybe slightly overconfident if you asked me.  The commentators said that he didn't get as much training in.  During the interview afterwards he seemed really distracted.  He kept looking off to the side instead of talking directly to the camera and you could tell the last place he wanted to be was in front of the camera after his first Olympic loss since 2004.

This is just two examples just in the first few days of the Olympics of how anything can happen.  It doesn't matter how good you are or how many medals you have at home if you are not THE BEST on THE DAY it counts nothing else matters.

Next Up:  Team Finals

7.27.2012

There's Something about the Olympics


Kyla Ross dismounting, Gabby Douglas mounting [Photo Source:  NBCOlympics.com]
Aly Raisman.  Never count her out.  She wants gold.   [Photo Source:  NBCOlympics.com]
There's just something about the Olympics.  Everybody is watching.  For two weeks it's not some terrible tragedy or incomprehensible act of evil that's keeping the whole world in front of the TV.  There is so much ugliness in the world but the Olympics is something that everyone across the nation can watch and take pride in together.  It's more than just sports.  It's a metaphor for what we aspire to be.  Courageous, strong, determined, skilled.  It's the best of the best and the only thing that even comes close to the incredible talent and athleticism that the Olympics displays is the way it unites the world.  Every four years a crop of new and returning athletes from all over the fights to earn the opportunity to live out a dream.  It's the chance for athletes to compete and be rewarded for their hard work with exposure, endorsements and other opportunities that they might not otherwise get.  It doesn't matter how marginal your sport or how tiny your country.  Once you become an Olympian you also become a shining star in your own right.  Gold, Silver, Bronze or no metal at all the fact that you made it at all is the biggest accomplishment of all.  Some just want to compete and others come for medals but they are all winners.  The Olympics is the biggest competition of their life.  The pressure is intense and I think that's what really draws you in.  The culmination of years of hard work, dedication and sacrifice has come down to one moment.  Everyone wants to do their best.  Some do and some don't.  You can always expect incredible stories of victory, disappointment and of overcoming the odds. It's really magical but at times even heartbreaking.
Team USA:  The Fierce Five-Jordan, McKayla, Kyla, Aly, Gabby [Photo Source:  NBCOlympics.com]
Russian star Victoria Komova.  She'll be going for All Around Gold  [Photo Source:  NBCOlympics.com]
I used to be a gymnast and now I'm a fan.  I recorded the 1988, 1992, 1996 Olympics and everything I could watch in between on VHS tapes with a VCR.  I don't know if or when I will ever watch those old tapes again but I still have them in a shoebox somewhere.  Gymnastics is near and dear to my heart and not just every four years.  Gymnasts do things that the human body simply should not be able to do.  The acrobatic skills they do defy the laws of gravity and reason.  What sane individual does a standing full twisting back tuck on a four inch wide four foot high beam?  How is it that a person even has the ability and air awareness to do such a thing?  At a high level all sports are hard even if they don't always look it but Gymnastics is one of those sports where there is no mistaking the incredible degree of talent and sheer guts that it takes to do it.  You must do incredibly difficult and dangerous skills without fear.  And then you must do it over and over again perfectly.  I'm totally in awe of what they do and the dedication it takes to do it.  Even if no one pays attention every other year Gymnastics is always one of the most popular Olympic sports.  The Women's team competition starts Sunday.  They made the cover of Sports Illustrated and have a good chance at winning Gold.  I will be glued to the TV screen along with the rest of the world watching every Tkatchev, double twisting double back and two and a half twisting Yurchenko. 

A beautiful picture slideshow of women's podium training.  They are ready for the 2012 London Olympics.

2012 Olympics Gymnastics Pics, Recaps and Results

What is your favorite Olympic sport and why?

7.24.2012

Vacation Booked

[Photo Source: worldatlas.com]
The trip is booked and I leave in 2 months.  Yeah!  We decided to do the cruise and take a different one leaving a day earlier so that we could go on Royal Caribbean.  I was feeling uneasy about being on a European cruise line after reading some negative reviews.  There is smoking allowed, minimum gratuity requirements and other dining charges I never quite figured out.  And you know, that Costa Cruise ship did go down last year.  I feel much more comfortable going on a Cruise line I've sailed with before.  The ship even has an ice skating rink!!! By the time I go Mj will already be in Stuttgart.  I'll fly directly to Barcelona and get there Friday morning and spend the night there all by my lonesome.  Just a tad bit freaked out about that.  Mj will meet me there the next morning and then we'll leave on the cruise.

Itinerary
Barcelona, Spain (1 night)

W. Mediterranean Cruise (7 nights)
Royal Caribbean, Liberty of the Seas
1-Barcelona, Spain Departure
2-Provence (Toulon), France    
3-Nice (Villefranche), France   
4-Livorno, Italy                
5-Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy    
6-Naples, Italy                
7-At Sea                
8-Barcelona, Spain Return

Barcelona, Spain (1 night)
Paris France (2 nights)
Amsterdam (2 nights)
Stuttgart-Early Morning flight home

We'll spend one night in Barcelona after the cruise, two nights in Paris and one 1/2 nights in Amsterdam.  We'll be leaving there at night and taking a sleeper train overnight to Stuttgart and then we'll fly home in the morning.  Thank goodness I was able to get on his return flight.  Planning a trip to Europe takes a lot of research especially when you have a budget to consider.  I don't know what I'd have done without Trip Advisor.  The site gives you multiple price comparisons and there are tons of reviews and hotel photos that guests have posted themselves because you know the hotels will try to fool you with their sleek professional photos.  Paris was the hardest because the hotels are tiny and expensive.  I had hotels coming out of my ears scouring the internet for hours and hours to find us the best value and best location for our money.  We probably won't spend too much time in the room and I don't need to be in a five or even four star hotel but it needs to be clean or else I will freak out.  I can't afford $500 a night but I'm not staying in a dump just because it's less then $150 bucks!  I went above the budget but I'd rather do that then risk being miserable in a nasty hotel.  The airfare, cruise and hotels are all booked and the only thing left to get is our Eurail tickets.  I think I've finally figured out how to get us from point A to point B to point C to point D.  Normally I consider travel agents pointless but I can really see how it would have been helpful to have someone who knows something, anything about Europe helping me figure it all out.  Mj is lucky; he has his own personal travel agent.  ME!!

I racked up some major points on my credit cards by paying with those.  I put half the trip on one card that I'll pay off in August and then the rest of the trip will go on a different card that won't be due until September.  They will both be paid off by the time I actually go I can enjoy myself and not have to come home to a giant bill.  We'll be on vacation for 15 days and 14 nights.  This will be the MOST EXPENSIVE, FARTHEST and LONGEST vacation I've ever taken in my entire life! I won't even know what to do with myself.  I can't wait.

7.19.2012

American Gypsies and Hutterites

First there was My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and now there's My Big Fat AMERICAN Gypsy Wedding and being the nut that I am I watched them both.  I'm just fascinated by this lifestyle.  The show has featured communities in N. Augusta, S. Carolina, Martinsburg W. Virginia, Roanoke, N. Carolina and Hagerstown, Maryland.  I've never heard of any of these cities.

Stage performance by bride and groom [Photo Source:  TLC.com]
In the wealthy almost exclusively Gypsy town of Murphy's Village in S. Carolina  weddings are held in front of their mansion (they're all rich) on a stage right outside the front door.  It begins with a performance by the brides sister's and then a poetry reading and performance by the bride and the groom.  It's like a play or a performance.  The poetry is set to music and pre recorded so that their voices are piped over a loud speaker and the couple dances to the words and the music.  The poetry topic?  It's basically a poem where they brag about how awesome they are and how much money they have.  The whole performance in this episode was embarrassingly bad and just plain old weird.  Then, they change into the must have giant over the top wedding dress for the ceremony.    

Some other interesting Gypsy community factoids:
  • Muskers is the Gypsy word for cops and non gypsy's are called gorgers.
  • The girls marry fast and young.  Teenage brides and mom's are the norm.  Marrying outside the culture is strongly frowned upon.
  • Gypsy boys mess around with gorgers but they marry Gypsy girls so by marriage it's okay for the boys to have been sexually active but they fully expect the girls to be virgins and that her first kiss is on her wedding day.
  •  It's not uncommon to marry your first cousin.  If you're in love, you're in love.  One couple had to go to Winchester, Virginia for the wedding because it was not legal in their own state.
  • Their go to dress maker is in Boston and they literally hop on planes to go in for the fittings to get outfitted for parties.  Their wedding dresses can weight 100 + pounds.  They look mighty funny hobbling down the aisle in a dress they can barely walk in. 
  • Most boys and girls drop out of school after middle school.  The boys drop out to start working and earning money and the girls drop out to help around the house.
  • Their style of dress is extremely provocative.  Even for little girls.  Short shorts and skirts and short tops.  The tighter and more blinged out the better.  They are virgins who look like strippers.
  •  The girls aren't allowed to date.  Parties are  the only opportunity to interact with boys and find a potential husband so they gotta look hot.
  • Men typically aren't present during the birth of their child.  
  • Women aren't allowed to drink when they are out and at parties.  The  men can.
  • The men spend much of the year traveling around working so the child rearing and household responsibilities are left to the wife.  A lot of them do blacktopping and paving to support their family.
  • The gypsy wives that live in trailers get to travel with their husband for work season.
  • Girls are expected to cook, clean and take care of siblings and are not allowed to go anywhere alone but boys are free to play all day long and come and go as they please.  
  • Even with gypsy communities that don't seem to be that wealthy it's all about image and status.  They want to have the best clothes, best parties, best dresses, the cleanest home and the purest virgin daughters.
  • Most Gypsy women actually don't want anything more out of life.  One woman explained that she does not want to do anything else but cook and clean for her family and her husband.  According to her there is no other feeling like the one you get when your husband comes home to a hot dinner that you made.  It's the best feeling in the world.  If that's not a dedicated career housewife I don't know what is.
Isn't it funny how these reality shows give birth to new ones?  There is a new show on Nat Geo called American Gypsies that starts tonight but I'm good.  I won't be watching it.  I've got to draw the line somewhere.  Which leads me to yet another reality show featuring a different way of life.

Photo Source:  Nationalgeographic.com
American Colony:  Meet The Hutterites  is also on Nat Geo.  I've heard of the Amish but I'd never heard of the Hutterites.  They have a very distinct accent and a style of dress similar to the Amish and make up a self sustained very religious community where work and money is shared communally among everyone.  The community featured on the show is King Colony in Montana which is made up of 16 families and 59 people who are almost all related.
  • The colony is ruled by the elders.  Anyone who goes against colony rules risk being shunned.  Parents can also be shunned for their kids behavior.  In order to be unshunned the shunned person would have to go around and ask all of the elders for forgiveness.
  • You must get permission from the preacher to be baptized and this normally happens in your 20's.  If you've misbehaved or gone against colony rules you could be barred.
  • You can't get married until after you are Baptized.
  • Only men who have baptized get to vote on colony business.  Women do not get a vote at all.
  • On this particular colony some of them do have cell phones and computers but that is considered very progressive.
  • The girls are not allowed to wear any make up or their hair down.  They wear their hair split into two twists,one on each side with the ends put up.   They must cover their head with a scarf and wear long dresses that they make themselves.  No wild prints or pants allowed on women.
  • Dating is slim pickings.  Most people are either related to you or already taken.
  • To marry a Non Hutterite (English person) means that they would basically have to leave the colony because it's forbidden.  
  • They don't own their own cars.  All the cars belong to the colony and permission must be asked for use.
  • Once you are assigned a job it's yours for life.  Different jobs on the colony include a Kitchen Boss, Field Boss, Cattle Boss, Garden Boss, and Money Boss.   
  • Men and women both work hard but the jobs are very defined based on gender.  Making soap, tending the garden, cooking and cleaning is for the women and men do the outside jobs. 
  • They earn money and put food on the table with soap making, farming and agriculture.  What they bring in for selling their Cattle every year is one of their main sources of income and they cook and eat what they grow. 
  • The kids don't go to school beyond the age of 15 years old so they can stay at home and help out on the colony.  They are expected to work and marry on the colony so I suppose there really is no point.
It's funny how these extremely different cultures actually have some similarities.  So, if you had to choose would you rather be a Gypsy or a Hutterite? This is a tough one because neither option sounds appealing to me.  I kind of like the idea of the simple life with it's shared communal living where I don't have to really think about bills or a mortgage and material items are non existent but that life seems so incredibly boring and stifling.  The Gypsy life seems way too materialistic and also very stifling and rigid.  Would I rather dress like a nun or a prostitute?  Would I rather go to a Harvest Party on the farm and watch fireworks or go to a big party in a slutty fancy dress and dance all night long?  I guess I'd be a Gypsy. Either way, as a women I'm going to be oppressed and subject to rules on top of rules but something tells me Gypsies have way more fun.

7.13.2012

Have Passport Will Travel

My Passport!!!!
I got my passport in the mail last month and I'm finally starting to get excited.  So where are you going you ask?  EUROPE!!  Mj has been to Northern Europe before but I've never been anywhere near it.  Like having a wedding it's just one more thing in my life that I've always figured I'd never get to do.  It's too expensive!  Yes, it's expensive but I'm finally at the point in my life where I'm not letting that hold me back anymore.  I've been told over and over that "you can't take it with you" and while I still am and always will be frugal I'm finally starting to believe them a little.  I'm a saver.  I've saved up enough to do this (on top of my other savings) so why just let it sit in the bank?

[Photo Source:  worldatlas.com]
Mj is now attached to an Army reserve unit stationed in Stuttgart, Germany so he'll be doing his drill there for about 40 days. The timing at work is miserable so I didn't think I would be able to go but it would be such a shame to pass up this opportunity.  His airfare is paid!  I just have to meet him there. Europe is huge and there is so much to see.  Trying to narrow down where to go has been really hard.  Mj just said "decide where you want to go and we'll go."  I like that.  I'm in control which is awesome for me because I love to plan and it's also awesome for him because he gets to let me figure everything out and show up.  Kind of like our wedding!  I've always wanted to go to Greece and was hoping to fit it into this trip but it's so far South that it's just not possible.  We're going to save that for a separate vacation.  I did my research and broke down how much everything would cost us.  Hours and hours of obsessive research have come down to two options which I typed up with ridiculous detail into a Word doc and have cut and pasted here for your viewing pleasure.

Option #1  
EUROPEAN VACATION WITH CRUISE: 13 Days

Barcelona, Spain (1 night)

Western Mediterranean Cruise, Norwegian Cruise Lines (8 days, 7 nights)
           Sun: Barcelona, Spain departure
           Mon: At Sea
           Tues: Naples, Italy
           Wed:  Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy
           Thu:  Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy
           Fri:  Cannes, France
           Sat:  Provence (Marseille), France
           Sun:  Barcolona, Spain return

Paris & Versaille, France (3 days, 2 nights)
            Barcelona to Paris:
            Barcelona Sants to Paris Lyon ARC/TGV (7 1/2 hours) OR
           
Amsterdam, Netherlands (1 night)           
Paris to Amsterdam:  THA
            Paris Nord to Amsterdam Centraal (3 hours)

Depart Amsterdam to Stuttgart (overnight on train) 
Amsterdam to Stuttgart:  ICE
Amsterdam Centraal to Stuttgart Hbf CNL Sleeper Train (8 hours, 8pm-4am)

Stuttgart Airport departure early morning

Mj's never been on a cruise so with this option we'll get to kill two birds with one stone.  We'll get some easy traveling and get fed on the Cruise ship but then also get to experience the Eurail train travel on our own as well.   Mj would take a flight from Stuttgart to Barcelona and I'd meet him there.  It's best for us to cruise out of Spain instead of Italy or France because it's a much cheaper/shorter flight for MJ.   There is another cruise that starts in Barcelona (MSC Cruises) and includes Tunisia-Africa, Malta, Sicily, Civitavecchia (Rome)-Italy, and Genoa-Italy.  That one is a little less expensive but it means seeing less of France....still deciding.

Option #2
EUROPEAN VACATION w/o CRUISE: 14 Days 
Frankfurt or Stuttgart, Germany (1 night)

Venice OR Verona AND Rome (5 days, 4 nights-2 nights in each)
           Germany (Stuttgart) to Italy (Rome) (Car:  10 hrs, 671 mi)*
            Stuttgart Hbf to Venezia Santa Lucia IC/EC/ESà (10 hours)
            Venezia Santa Lucia to Roma Termini ICN (7 hours)  
            Stuttgart Hbf to Verona Porta Nuova ICE/EC (9 hours) OR
            Verona Porta Nuova to Roma Termini R/ES (4 hours) 

Barcelona, Spain (3 days, 2 nights)
            Italy to Spain (Barcelona) (Car:  12 hrs, 849 mi)*
            Roma Termini to Barcelona Estacion de Franca ES/EN Sleeper (18 ½ hours)
           
Paris AND Versaille, France (4 days, 3 nights)
Spain to France (Paris) (Car:  9 hrs, 666 mi)*
            Barcelona Estacion De Franca to Paris Austerlitz EN/INT Sleeper (12 hours) OR
            Barcelona Estacion De Franca to Paris Lyon R/ARC/TGV (8 hours)

 Amsterdam, Netherlands (3 days, 2 nights)
            France to Netherlands (Amsterdam) (Car:  5 hrs, 322 mi)*
            Paris Nord to Amsterdam Centraal THA (3 hours)

  Frankfurt or Stuttgart (1 night)    
            Netherlands to Germany (Frankfurt) (Car:  4 hrs, 275 mi)*
Amsterdam Centraal to Frankfurt (main) Hbf ICE (4 hours) OR
            Amsterdam Centraal to Frankfurt Flughafen Fernbf ICE OR
            Amsterdam Centraal to Stuttgart Hbf (5 ½-6 hrs)

 Frankfurt or Stuttgart Airport Depart early morning

Researching this really took a lot of time because I had to figure out exactly where these places are on the map and the distance between them to determine logistically what we can fit in.  Knowing the driving distance put it in perspective for me then I figured out how long it would take us on the train and what trains would take us there in the shortest amount of time.  We want to use the high speed trains which carry an additional fee on top of the Eurail pass cost but I think it'll be worth it to save time.  It's a lot of hours of train travel which could be fun.  I like this option because we fit in more time at different cities I want to see but I worry that I might get worn out by all that traveling.  Oddly enough both options cost about the same.  With the cruise option we have to factor in the cost of the cruise but we spend less on hotels, food and the Eurail pass.

We're leaning towards including the cruise since logistics for eight full days of travel are already taken care of and it'll be easier but I'm thrilled to be going either way.  Which option would you pick?  How sad.  I've had a passport for ten years and never needed it!  It's about time I actually use it and get some stamps.  The thought of packing for this trip is already stressing me out a little but it'll be worth it. 

7.10.2012

Four Years Later.....

July 10, 2010.  Right after saying "I Do."


Our wedding day was July 10, 2010 and Two years later....
We're enjoying our first home together that we moved into just 1 1/2 months before our wedding.
I still feel honored to be his wife and call him my husband.
I am still dazzled by my three ring bling and catch myself staring down at them.  
My heart still swells when I recall our wonderful wedding day filled with friends, family and celebration.  I'll always remember it as one of the happiest days of my life.
I still remember that magical feeling of being a princess Queen for a day.
I know I picked the right wedding recessional song because it still brings tears to my eyes when I hear it and reminds me of how lucky I am to have found him.
I still love my wedding dress and know it was perfect for me.
I still plan on preserving said wedding dress (still hanging in my closet) in a box so it'll take up less space and I can have it to look at it forever.
I'm still wearing my wedding shoes.  Silver gladiator flats from Macy's for only $32 bucks thank you very much!
I'm still obsessed with my wedding pictures.  I love, love, LOVE them!
I've finally accepted the passing of my joyful and exciting bride to be days and no longer ache with a yearning to do it all over again.
I still can't believe that I managed to pull off such an awesome wedding for only $11,275.
We still have not popped open that bottle of Dom Perignon.  I'm still waiting for the perfect time...yes, two years later.  It's expensive stuff!
I still feel so fortunate that I got to have a wedding at all.  It truly was a fairytale moment for me.
I have the best memories of our perfect Oahu honeymoon and am looking forward to our next big vacation later this year.

A wedding gift not yet opened
Vegas 2008

Vegas 2008

We met on March 15, 2008 and Four years later......
He still makes my heart happy.
I'm still excited to see him when I get home.
We're still dating and the romance is alive and well.
He is still the most handsome man in the world.
I still crave his touch, hugs and kisses.
I still look at him with love in my eyes.
He still means the world to me.
I still miss him when we are apart.
I still think of him randomly throughout the day and it makes me smile.
He is still my best friend and we have so much fun together.
He still makes me want to be a better person.
I am still amazed by his overall awesomeness and thrilled that I managed to snag such a good guy.
I finally believe that I deserve this love and that I give to him almost as much as I get back.



 
Our wedding recessional song
"It Feels Like Home" Chantal Kreviazuk

7.08.2012

4th of July (sort of) Weekend

The 4th of July being on Wednesday was pretty screwy this year so I took Thursday off.  It's not like we were even planning to do much of anything for the 4th but having to go to work the day after the holiday just didn't seem right.  So basically, I had two Friday's this week and getting through the 2nd one wasn't that bad.  We went to a BBQ on the 4th and enjoyed ourselves there.  We didn't feel like going anywhere else or dealing with any crowds that night so we skipped the fireworks.  We like them but can take it or leave it.
I probably need to work on my form!!
Thursday afternoon we went bowling downtown at East Village Tavern and Bowl.   I had a Groupon for $40 credit to use towards bowling and food.  Mj beat me of course.  The only thing I've ever managed to really "beat" him at is ice skating.  I pretty much suck at bowling.  My high score was 134 but I did manage a strike or two.  It was fun, but two games was plenty because by the 2nd one my wrist and hands were already feeling a bit sore.  I quit while I was ahead and my nails remained intact.  We use the rest of our credit on lunch and beer at the bar.
Poor kid!  He was so afraid of the sand at first

My nephew and my sister
Me and my sister
Saturday Mj organized a day at the beach at Breakers Beach on Coronado Island.  He posted it on facebook and about 27 people came out including my sister and her family.  The weather was a perfect 76 degrees.  It's on base so there are no crowds and plenty of close parking.  The last time I went to the beach was 2 years ago on our honeymoon in Hawaii and I can't even remember the last time we went to the beach locally.  Our beaches are beautiful and I've lived less then 30 minutes away from the coast my whole life but I've just never been into it.  I don't need a tan and the beach is just so messy and sandy.  The water is usually way too cold and I get a little nervous about what might be floating around in there so I'd rather go to a park with nice neat grass.  Or better yet a beach or a bay with grass.

I dug my toes into the sand and just went with it and it was actually kind of freeing to just be sitting in the sand and just letting the dirt happen.   It was a nice break from my usual clean freak mode.  Black folks CAN get sunburned.  Mj and I both got a little bit burnt.  We bought umbrellas but apparently they were real cheap and didn't stand up to the wind.  They were both broken within an hour of us being there!  Dj was really afraid of the sand and wouldn't sit in it and didn't even want to walk in it.  Poor kid.  He finally got over it when his dad sat him in it and just left him there crying.  After that he had a lot more fun.  The ocean is so pretty to look at but only my feet went in.  Mj went body boarding, the guys were throwing balls around and we had a giant party sub from Subway.  There were so many people and so much going on I barely sat down the whole day.  We all had a really fun time.  I embraced the dirt but when I got home I made a beeline for the shower.  It was a fun day at the beach but it felt so good to be clean again.

7.02.2012

2012 Olympic Trials & Tribulations

Gabby Douglas wins Trials [Photo Credit:  nbcolympics.com]

Jordan, Mckayla, Aly and Gabby [Photo Credit:  Universal Sports]

The Olympic team has been named.  It almost brought tears to my eyes to see those girls crying tears of happiness, relief and sheer joy as they ran out onto the floor.  What a long road this has been for all of them.  To have worked so hard at something for so long and to finally achieve something that so few ever do is such an accomplishment.  The Olympic Games truly is an impossible dream but not for these young ladies.  Gabby beating World Champion Jordan is huge!  They will push each other to do better and if they perform to their full potential at the Olympics it could be a 1-2 USA sweep in the All Around.  They will need to hold off the formidable Russian 1-2 of Komova and Mustafina but the fact that the US has two athletes that are in serious contention for the All-Around is amazing.  They are all amazing athletes and I can't wait to see them go out there and kick some Russian, Romanian and Chinese butt!  If anyone can bring home Olympic team gold for the first time since 1996 it's them.

2012 Olympic Team
Gabrielle Douglas
McKayla Maroney
Alexandra Raisman
Kyla Ross
Jordyn Wieber 

Alternates:
Sarah Finnegan
Anna Li
Elizabeth Price 

My heart aches for Alicia Sacramone and Rebecca Bross.  After taking time off after the 2008 Olympics Alicia came back to the sport and like only she could earned a spot to Worlds last year but didn't even get to compete.  She tore her Achilles in training.  Just 9 months after that she was back in action just as good as before  minus one event.  Alicia was ready and she performed well.  She did everything she could have have done but Team USA simply didn't need the two events she had to offer.  If that injury had never occurred and she was still competing floor I think she would have at least been named as an alternate.  Another victim of what if is Rebecca.  She was on track to be the next Olympic all around champ three years ago but time and injury reared it's ugly head and snatched that dream away.  The time was now and not even her six world medals could save it.  I have so much respect for how she fought back from two injuries and never gave up her dream even after being reduced to only two events and struggling so much in competitions.  On bars she fell two times and got right back up.  After the 3rd time her coach signaled to her that she needs to salute and be done.  It was sad to watch.  She fought hard but it just wasn't to be for her.  It wasn't televised but I heard she rocked her beam set.  Good for her.



There were a lot of angry fans out there who didn't even want her to try.  She had her chance and now it's time for the new generation they said.  They hated all the coverage and air time NBC was giving her when there were plenty of other athletes far more prepared and way more in contention then her.  A small part of me agrees but the other part of me says that if she or any other athlete has that burning desire to come back and give it another go they deserve that chance just like anybody else.  Nastia Liukin did herself a disservice by coming back so late.  Had she given herself adequate time to prepare this may have turned out very differently.  She was too wishy washy about what she wanted and by the time she got serious about it and decided to come back three years had passed, the clock was ticking and she ran out of time.  She either underestimated the amount of time it would take to get back into shape or was relying on some 11th hour burst of energy to get through bars.  Or maybe a little bit of both.  It was sad to see the 2008 Olympic Champion so unprepared at Nationals and Trials.  At times it was almost painful to watch as she couldn't even complete a full bar routine.  No one else could have gotten that far in the process with such weak routines.  But she is Nastia and so Marta gave her a chance and I think it's a chance that she earned and a chance that she deserved. Chelsie Memmell may have deserved the same chance just to get to Nationals but that's not Nastia's fault.  What you've done in the past however, will never be enough to earn your way onto an Olympic team and she knew it.  Her trademark elegance and beauty was still there but the skills and execution were not.  She gave her best and her best simply wasn't good enough this time but I respect and admire that she was not afraid to tarnish that perfect 2008 Olympic Champion image.  That took a lot of guts.  She really was chasing fools gold and even with defeat right around the corner she kept trying and hoping until the bitter end.  Although she didn't make the team what she did epitomizes the courage and strength of an Olympian.  She fell hard onto her stomach off of bars but through the pain she got back up and I was so glad to see her finally stand up that bar dismount and then finish strong on beam.  She went out with class, dignity and to the screaming adoration of 18,000 fans just as an Olympic Champion should.