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Favorite Olympic Moments

I’m feeling sad right now because the Olympics are officially over.

How I do love them and look forward to the celebration of athletic achievements every two years.

This Olympic season was, once again, full of so many memorable stories.  I consider myself a study of people, so I’m naturally drawn to the personal stories that accompany the games.  Boy, some of them were heart-wrenching too!

I thought I’d share a few of my favorite.

First off, Meryl Davis and Charlie White…

Doesn’t she remind you of Jasmine, from Aladdin?  I love how they were constantly there for each other.  The smallest gestures…never letting go of each others’ hands, his tender care of her through every movement…these bespoke the trust that they spent years nurturing.  I could have watched them skate for hours.

Noelle Pikus-Pace…mom of two who won the silver medal for skeleton…

She struck the perfect balance between wife, mother, and athlete.  What an inspiration to women who want it all!

Our men’s bobsled team, led by Steve Holcomb who tried to end his life a few short years ago but overcame that despondency to earn two more medals!

Mikaela Shiffrin, teenage downhill skier who is absolutely brilliant.  I was impressed when I saw a story about how she has studied various skiers’ nuances and blended them into her own unique style.  She was a joy to watch!

My admiration isn’t just for American athletes.

I was so touched by Canada’s Alexandre Bilodeau.  His repeat gold medal win was especially touching because of his brother, who has Cystic Fibrosis, who cheers him on at every competition.

Julia Lipnitskaia stole my heart with her youthful and spot-on skating during her short program and team competition.  Although she made some mistakes in the long program, she’ll be back, I’m sure of that.

Stories that broke my heart…

Bode Miller…

I’ve watched his Olympic career from the beginning and have seen his ups and downs.  He’s definitely struggled but seems to have finally matured because of a supportive wife and, unfortunately, through the death of his brother.  He had a difficult Olympics, but despite this, he handled himself with grace.

Russian skater, Yevgeni Plushenko, had a most glorious swan song, so to speak, during his team event.  My heart broke for him when he had to pull out of the individual competition minutes before he was to perform.  He has overcome so many physical difficulties and truly will remain a legend in this sport.

One of the things that struck me about this particular Olympics was the resilience of the Russian people.  They live tough lives.  Their environment, physically and politically, is harsh.  They’ve weathered many, many storms.

One such storm was the loss of the Russian hockey team, Lokomotiv, in a plane crash in 2011.  The special that NBC did on this team made me cry.

To hear of the player who donated many thousands of dollars to the young woman undergoing cancer treatment made me weep harder.  His donation went undiscovered until after his death.

The way this team’s deaths affected the Russian people broke my heart, and I hurt for the friends, family, and hockey teammates left behind.

I think I am getting more sentimental the older I get.  Maybe it’s just that I have a greater appreciation for life…for its struggles…for its high points.

I so admire those who rise above their circumstances to achieve greatness.

I admire those who, though falling short of the mark, still give it their all, like the snowboarders who get up and finish the race or the skater who finishes a program when he/she has made a mistake that will take him/her out of medal contention.

I appreciate how, for two weeks, politics are set aside and humanity is celebrated.

Isn’t that what we’re here for?  To help one another…to celebrate with one another?

I’m sad but happy…all at the same time…for once again, my faith in humanity was restored a little bit, and I believe that was the purpose back when the Olympics originally began.

Olympic Hodgepodge

Oh, how I do love the Olympics and am thrilled that Joyce included some Olympic-themed questions this week!  Play along.  Answer the questions on your own blog and link back up with Joyce!

1.  Are we always responsible for our actions? Are there any exceptions?

I say that we are always responsible for our actions.  I teach high school students who usually want to deflect responsibility for their actions to other people.  The standard argument is, “What about ‘so-and-so’?  You never get onto him/her.”

My response is that a police officer doesn’t care about the three cars that were speeding in front of me.  He/she only cares about me and the fact that I broke the law.  I can’t blame those speeders, because I chose to speed.

We have become a nation of accountability-deflectors, and I think that is one reason why our morals are declining.  Hardly anyone wants to admit that he/she made a bad choice.

2.  Has anyone from your home town become famous?

We had a football player from a local high school get arrested for breaking some major laws after he went to a very famous college on a football scholarship.  We also have some politicians from our area who are famous.  Oh, and we had a rather scary incident happen in our district that made a woman quite famous.  I’d give you more details, but then you’d know where I live.  😉

3.  January was National Slow Cooker month. Do you own a slow cooker/crock pot? Did you use it last month? What’s a favorite dish you make using a slow cooker or crock pot?

The timing of this question is uncanny!  I recently blogged about my recent crock pot cooking adventures.  I’ve been using my crock pot almost every week to make various vegan dishes.  I love my crock pot.  I don’t use the microwave…EVER…so I have a small crock pot at school to warm up my lunch.

4.  How do you feel about private companies collecting data about you?

I think this is an invasion of privacy and completely uncalled for.

5.  The Games of the 2014 Winter Olympics kick off with their opening ceremony this coming Friday….will you be watching? Which Winter Olympic event would you most like to see in person? Have you ever been to Russia? Any desire to go, Olympics or otherwise?

I am an Olympics junkie and will watch pretty much any sport…winter or summer games included. I will be watching the opening ceremony…eager to see each country’s outfit. I really look forward to ice skating, skiing, luge, and bobsled events.  I’d love to watch ice skating in person.  Their movements are similar to gymnastics…my favorite summer event (plus ice skating is indoors…much warmer).  I have never been to Russia and, although I’d love to do some traveling, would be leery after the news report I watched yesterday evening.  Did you see it?

6.  Share a good or bad sports related memory from your childhood or teen years.

Oh yes…I have a doozy for you.  I’m not sure if I’ve shared this story before, but it’s a funny one.

I played attempted to play basketball during my high school days.  I wasn’t very good and only went in when we were too far ahead for me to lose the game for us or too far behind for there to be any hope that I’d catch us up and help us win.

I didn’t come off of the bench too much.

One game, I finally got put in, and played the position of point guard.

Well, I’m dribbling along, happy as can be, when my bra strap completely pops.

Back in the 80’s, there were no sports bras around.  We wore our regular stuff.

I don’t think well on my feet, or else I would have handled this issue much more comically.

Well, actually, what happened was comical, but in an embarrassing way.

I didn’t know what to do, so I immediately crossed my arms in front of my chest and began running down the court.

My coach didn’t know what was wrong, and I was so mortified, I didn’t know what to say.

I finally told him that my bra had popped, and he put in a substitute for me.

What I should have done was whip that sucker out of my jersey and played on.

I was seventeen and not endowed, if you get my drift.

Nobody would have been the wiser.

But nooooooo.  Do you really think I was cool like that?

To this day, my classmates still remember that incident.

7.  What’s a must have song for you on a work out play list? If you don’t work out, run, swim, bike, walk, or anything else that could be construed as ‘exercise’, then what’s a song that motivates you to at least get up off the couch?

Work out?  Seriously?  Surely you jest!

My brain is the only thing that gets much exercise these days, although I do plan on working out this summer…taking my dogs for walks and biking.

What gets me in the mood to work (i.e., lesson plan) is a bit of Ingrid Michaelson.  I love, love, love her voice and her style of singing.

8.  My Random Thought

I think I’ll use this week’s Random Thought to share with you an awkward moment.

I could fill volumes with my awkward moments (see #6 above).

Anyhoo…

Yesterday, during my last class, the kids were working on a flipbook for our current unit of study.  It was relaxed in my room, and one of my guys asked me to put on some music.

I started up my Ingrid Michaelson playlist on Pandora, and the following song began to play…

Read the lyrics that follow and pay attention to the line I’ve highlighted…

“You And I”

Don’t you worry there, my honey
We might not have any money
But we’ve got our love to pay the billsMaybe I think you’re cute and funny
Maybe I wanna do what bunnies do with you, if you know what I mean

Oh, let’s get rich and buy our parents homes in the south of France
Let’s get rich and give everybody nice sweaters and teach them how to dance
Let’s get rich and build a house on a mountain making everybody look like ants
From way up there, you and I, you and I

Well, you might be a bit confused
And you might be a little bit bruised
But baby how we spoon like no one else
So I will help you read those books
If you will soothe my worried looks
And we will put the lonesome on the shelf

Oh, let’s get rich and buy our parents homes in the south of France
Let’s get rich and give everybody nice sweaters and teach them how to dance
Let’s get rich and build a house on a mountain making everybody look like ants
From way up there, you and I, you and I

Oh let’s get rich and buy our parents homes in the south of France
Let’s get rich and give everybody nice sweaters and teach them how to dance
Let’s get rich and build a house on a mountain making everybody look like ants
From way up there, you and I, you and I

Well, the room was DEAD QUIET at the beginning of the song, so that line played LOUD.   AND.  CLEAR.

My students started giggling and then broke out in full-fledged laughter.

Um…yeah.

I realize I teach high schoolers, but I try very, very hard to keep things uber-clean.  My students know this.

Um.  Yeah.

I might as well have played some of their music (aka not clean).

Olympic Knitting – Part 2

As you probably already know, I went on a dishcloth knitting spree during the Olympics. I organized an Olympic Dishcloth Knit-a-Long on KnittingHelp.com. You can find the thread here. My objective was to use up my cotton stash, which had grown quite large in the two years I’ve been knitting. We travel quite frequently to soccer tournaments, and I’m always surprised at the different colorways that Michael’s and Joann’s carry. I remember one find that was especially delicious…self-striping Sugar ‘n Cream! Lovely stuff, I tell you.

When I left off of this topic (you can refresh your memory by going to this post), I had completed Dishcloth #8. I wasn’t nearly done.

Dishcloth #9 is called Flurries Dishcloth. Here’s the link for the free pattern. I used Tahki Cotton Classic.

Flurries Dishcloth

Dishcloth #10 is the Dayflower Cloth, and it’s a free pattern that you can find here. I used Sugar ‘n Cream, and the color is Natural Stripes. The yarn is self-striping and really pretty up close. The pattern was so much fun and literally flew off of my needles. I’m really surprised how quickly it went by.

Dayflower Cloth

Next, I knit up 4 Corners Dishcloth, and I used Sugar ‘n Cream. The color is Rose Twists. I loved this yarn, and the pattern was fairly easy, except for the provisional cast on (used the video here on KH), and the garter stitch graft (instructions found here). You can find the free pattern here.

4 Corners Dishcloth

The next dishcloth begged for me to use my I Love This Cotton, and the color is Buttercup. The pattern is called Christmas Lace Dishcloth. It’s free, and you can find it here.

This was a FAST knit…took me under two hours. I’m not sure exactly because I started it while in car loop picking up my children and then stopped while I cooked dinner and cleaned the house a bit. I picked it up and finished during the diving events one evening.

Christmas Lace Dishcloth

This dishcloth (I’ve lost count by now) is called Eyelet and Bead Cloth. The pattern is located here. I used Sugar ‘n Cream, and the color is Ecru.

Eyelet and Bead Cloth

The next pattern was a bit different for me. I found it on Ravelry, and it was written by Eloomanator. You can find it under her name. The pattern is called Eloomanator’s Diagonal Knit Dishcloth. What an awesome pattern! I used the rest of the skein of I Love This Cotton (Buttercup). Here’s the finished project:

Eloomanator's Diagonal Knit Dishcloth

Dishcloth #15 is called the Squidge Cloth. Here is the link for the free pattern.

The reason why it has this name is because you’re supposed to use a much smaller needle than normal…to tighten up the stitches for a tight gauge, which makes the cloth squishy.

I used Sugar ‘n Cream, and the color is called Tie Dye Stripes. It is a self-striping yarn. I used size 3 needles, cast on 48 stitches (the pattern calls for 40 or a multiple of eight) and completed 60 rows.

The Squidge Cloth

The next cloth called the Mason Dixon Washcloth, and you can find it in the Mason Dixon Knitting book. I used Sugar ‘n Cream Twists, and the color is Country Twists.

This was a fun pattern! It was a bit tedious, at first, but once I got through the third or fourth round, I was set.

Mason Dixon Washcloth

Dishcloth #17 is called Intertwined Dishcloth. You can find the free pattern here. I used Sugar ‘n Cream. The color is Ecru. This one gave me a fit! I think that’s because I was getting pretty burned out by now, but I desperately wanted to use up that yarn! I made it 3/4 of the way through before I discovered I had made a mistake. Unable to fix it properly, I frogged the entire thing and had a tantrum on the floor, determined that I was done with this KAL. About ten minutes later, I picked up my needles and tried again. I guess you could say that the Olympian spirit has infiltrated my person. I dove in again, adamant that a pair of needles and yarn would not get the best of me. The effort was worth it.

Intertwined Dishcloth

Well, my 18th (and final) dishcloth leaves a lot to be desired. I wanted to use up the Cornflower yarn I had, and that’s just what I did. However, it wasn’t enough to finish up the pattern. I debated about buying more of that color but decided I wanted it finished, so I pulled out the remnants of the Tea Rose yarn and knit the last third with it. It’s a bit funny looking, but oh well.

The name of this pattern is called Springing Up Flowers. The pattern is located here. I used Sugar ‘n Cream, Cornflower and Tea Rose.

Springing Up Flowers

Here’s what all of my cloths look like, stacked on top of one another…

18 Dishcloths Completed - Olympic Dishcloth KAL - 2008

And here are the remnants of yarn leftover…

Perhaps one day I’ll get around to knitting up some “scrap” dishcloths. I know it won’t be for quite a while, though. I’m a little dishclothed-out.

AuburnChick Welcomes an Old Friend

What is that, you might ask. Well, it is one of my books from a class I took last year.

Why is it sitting on your table, since you’ve already graduated, you continue.

Well, if you want to teach, you have to pass various exams. I’m on the quest to NOT fail the Social Sciences test. So, I pulled out this book, which was in too poor of shape to sell, and have begun studying. Social Sciences is a hodgepodge of disciplines, and one naturally melds into the other. Hence, the volume of information to cement into this Mom Brain is ginormous.

My test date is the 11th…of August…leaving only two weeks to prepare.

I am not the happiest of campers, but I know this is a necessary evil in my quest for a career change.

Despite the studying, which began in earnest last night, I still managed to pull out the knitting and take a short break.

Over on KH, I’m heading up an Olympic Dishcloth KAL, during which I plan to use up my stash of cotton yarn.

My goal is to knit one dishcloth each day of the Olympics. Lofty, I know, but what’s the fun in obtaining the prize if a little challenge isn’t involved?

One of the gals over there designed the pattern for the first dishcloth I want to make.  You can find it over on KH or here, I think. Here’s a picture of what the finished cloth looks like.

And here’s a picture of mine…in progress…

My Little Slip of a Thing is currently blocking. Here’s a picture of the inside of it. You can see where the yarn got pulled across each block.

And here’s a photo of it blocking…

Oh, and I thought I would show you pictures of the i-cord bind off…in progress…

I have to say that the finished edge is LOVELY! I’m quite pleased with how it looked…actually like I knew what I was doing!

A note about the yarn…Lamb’s Pride…

It’s really awesome to work with. In the past, I’ve only used Noro Kureyon for my felted bags. As you know, the colors are lovely, but the yarn is rough and takes a bit longer to felt. Not so with the Lamb’s Pride. It’s very soft, although it does shed quite a bit while knitting with it, but it felts so FAST! I only had to put it through one agitating cycle in my washer before it was done. So, if you use this, make sure you watch it very carefully.

Well, I’m off to work and then to study.

Sports and Knitting

You may not know this about me, but I am becoming a sports junkie. This is something that has long been in the making.

I remember spending my youth holed up in my room on Sundays watching the Redskins and Broncos — two of my favorite teams. My love for sports extended beyond football though. I loved Wide World of Sports. It highlighted such sports as skiing and the seldom-watched log rolling.

I watched Nadia Comaneci win the Olympic gold medal. Every little girl wanted to somersault like her and be hugged by Bela Karolyi. Do you remember when the Olympics were held every four years…both the Winter and Summer games? I was thrilled when the Olympic Committee changed this so that there would be games every two years. Now I didn’t have to wait so long to be submerged in the competition.

I sometimes wonder where this love of sports came from. I am, by no means, coordinated. I can barely walk and chew gum at the same time. Walking across the stage at my recent graduation should have been an Olympic sport all on its own.

I stunk at tether ball in elementary school. Have you ever seen the movie The Benchwarmers? Do you remember the scene where Will Ferrell is playing against his father? That could have been me and any other kid on the playground. I used to get beaten quite badly. I’m not sure I ever really understood the rules. I don’t think I do to this day.

I did play basketball in high school. I spent more time on the bench than on the court. I only played when the team was either way ahead (and my entrance wouldn’t allow the opponent to catch up too quickly) or we were way behind, when all hope was lost anyway. I just did not function well under pressure.

Take the time I was on the court at an away game. Keep in mind that I went to a small, private school. To give you an idea of the size, the school only had one class of every grade, and my graduating class had 18 students. So, everyone knew everyone else…even at the other schools

So, I got buzzed onto the court. I was so excited! I finally got to play! I usually played point guard because I was so small. There I went, dribbling happily down the court.

All of sudden…

Pop.

What’s that, I wondered, just as my boobs gained their freedom. My bra strap had broken. These were the days before sports bras.

Now, I was covered up, and nobody could tell what was happening. But to a 16 year old teen, every crisis is magnified. I did what most teens would do.

I dropped the ball and went running down the court with my arms crossed over my chest, advertising the fact that my body was, quite literally, celebrating its freedom from that bench.

Yeah, I had not yet mastered the art of being discreet.

So, I ran down the court, arms over my chest, looking at my coach saying, “My bra strap broke…substitute me NOW.”

“What?” he hollered.

Typical man. Just didn’t get it. The entire gym sure did because everyone was laughing their heads off.

The rest of the night is a blur in my memory…thankfully. I think I eventually got off the court, and someone had safety pins and fixed me up so I could go back out there, red face and all. I never lived that one down either.

So, that being said, I really don’t know why I love sports so much. I think it’s because I do not possess such skills myself and can truly appreciate those who do. Also, having children who are quite talented also helps. It’s a safe bet that they got their sports genes from Mr. AuburnChick. (They got their brains from me, and you can advertise that all you want.)

Ok…you must be wondering…

What in the world has possessed AuburnChick to talk about this?

Well, I just spent most of the day watching Wimbledon’s men’s finals. Wow! What a marvelous display of artistry. It was one of the best finals I’ve ever seen, and as noted above, I’ve seen quite a few.

What I most admire is Federer and Nadal’s humbleness afterwards. The mutual respect they displayed are marks of true champions. Federer had won five straight Wimbledon trophies, beating Nadal during the last two years. He lost the first two sets and was prime to lose the third, when he dug down deep and pulled off one miraculous shot after another. It was simply amazing to watch.

Nadal, to his credit, never gave in. Despite two rain interruptions, he came back and beat Federer in the fifth set.

Wimbledon at its finest.

Throughout the six + hour match, I did what any other knitter would do…knit!

I am stuck on my Froot Loop socks and have sent out a couple requests for help on the heel. That’s what I get for trying to adjust a pattern. Remember that I don’t think well on my feet. Stick to the pattern, I keep trying to tell myself. But no, I have to try to challenge myself.

Silly girl.

Rather than sitting idly by, I pulled out that marvelous skein of Malabrigo that one of my KH friends sent me.

I began work (for the second time) on my Leaf Lace Scarf. It’s an easy pattern, but my previous attempt was with a similar yarn, almost identical color, and similar weight. For some reason, the first yarn didn’t go with the pattern. It was almost too thin.

Enter in the Malabrigo.

I LOVE this yarn! It’s the first time I’ve ever knit with the fabulous Mmmmmm. Now, I understand the reverence knitters ascribe to it. Simply winding it up (I have yet to buy a ball winder) was a sensory experience.

I’ve completed seven pattern repeats, and I love how it’s turning out so far.

So, sports and knitting. Two of my favorite things. Can life get any better?

I think not.

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