One Thing my Mom Does that I Once Swore I Wouldn’t Do, I Do Now

We ALL must have this same experience.  As a kid growing up, you are asked to do chores that are terribly annoying.  For me I was always having to fold socks (a common request that my mom would make while I was talking on the phone with friends). I can still hear, “Cathy, c’mon, you have socks to fold,” or something to that effect.

One chore that was rather unique and definitely high on my annoyance chart was washing and drying plastic bags.  There was this constant pile of bread bags and Ziploc bags beside the kitchen sink (or so it seemed at the time). My mom would wash them and cram them onto the bottom of the drying rack for me to take and either dry, or hang up on the clothesline in the basement.

What fun it is to be green….and frugal, a combination of traits passed along from my mom’s side. She grew up on a dairy farm. And as it is often the case on a farm or a small business, you make do with what you have, are not wasteful, and understand the value of a dollar and hard work (just to name a few life lessons). 

As an adult, I SWORE I would not be washing plastic bags!

Years later I met my now husband and saw that he too grew up in a family that re-used Ziploc bags, and he readily washed and dried such bags on his own as an adult. A match made in heaven, right?

Over the weekend I had to chuckle as I found myself doing that very thing I swore I would never do (and have been doing since meeting my husband).

Me drying a freshly washed re-sealable bag.

Me drying a freshly washed re-sealable bag to re-use again.

All clean and ready to be used again!

All clean and ready to be used another time! Saved from the landfill…for now.

What’s the one thing your parents made you do as a kid that you swore you’d never do as an adult, but do now anyway?  Does anyone else recycle or self-cycle these resealable bags?

 

5 Senses of our Summer

Can you believe how quickly summer is going?  I had a freak-out moment after the 4th of July weekend, realizing how my daughter would be starting 4K before we know it!

Reflecting on our summer thus far, I can’t help but think it is truly a season to experience with all five senses.  Here’s a little about our summer according to our senses:

Summer Looks Like

Trips to the zoo:

  • watching the sting ray soar through the water (and touching their smooth, slimy skin)
  • taking in the beautiful patterns of a giraffe
  • noticing the reflection of the rhino in his wading pool
  • watching the black bear bathe so comfortably
  • seeing a lion fish up-close-and personal
  • spying a small seahorse with its tail curved around a piece of coral.

 

Amazing Animals we saw during a trip to the zoo: Sting Ray touch pool, Bathing bear, Rhino and his reflection in the pond, lion fish, and Giraffe stretching so tall

Amazing Animals we saw during a trip to the zoo: Sting Ray touch pool, Bathing bear, Rhino and his reflection in the pond, lion fish, and Giraffe stretching so tall

 A rainbow of colors in our garden (that are actually blooming nicely)!

Impatiens, Baby Sun, and Coleus - makes me look like I have a green thumb!

Impatiens, Baby Sun, and Coleus – makes me look like I have a green thumb!

These Lily of the Valley are done blooming, but we sure enjoyed seeing them when they had their time to shine!

These Lily of the Valley are done blooming, but we sure enjoyed seeing them when they had their time to shine!

Summer Feels Like

  • A slimy, smooth touch of a sting ray (see zoo picture)
  • A warm hug of sunshine
  • Grains of sand between your toes
  • A cool breeze in the middle of a hot day

little brother playing in the sand

Feel the sand between your toes, in your hair, and even in your diaper!

Summer Tastes Like

  • Freshly picked, juicy strawberries
  • Perfectly ripened, so good it drips down your chin peach
  • Crisp, sweet, and buttered grilled corn on the cob
  • Hot dogs and hamburgers and brats
  • A cold beer, chilled white wine, or pink lemonade for the kids
  • Ice cream, frozen custard, and Popsicles
    freshly picked strawberries

    The fruits of our labor – one hour of strawberry picking

 Summer Smells Like

  • Sunshine-dried crisp sheets
  • Freshly cut grass
  • Campfires
  • Grilling out

Summer Sounds Like

  • a melody of children laughing
  • lawnmowers of the weekend warriors
  • outdoor concerts listened to while sitting in the grass on a soft blanket
  • the chimes of the ice cream truck driving through the neighborhood
  • birds chirping in the morning (when we’ve slept with our windows open)

Happy big sister posing at the park.

Happy big sister posing at the park. So many kids were there that day, so it looked and sounded like a lot of play-time fun!

What is your summer like with all five senses?  Hope it’s a fun-filled summer!

 

The Other Attraction at the 4th of July Parade

The parade we attended last week celebrating the 4th of July was full of fun floats, energetic bands, and many community organizations. The OTHER attraction besides the parade was watching the kids go crazy whenever candy was thrown. As may be the case at your 4th of July parade, candy is tossed out extremely often, so the crazy factor was high!

Our almost five year old daughter was well-positioned in a group of kids, some older, some younger than her. It was obvious that some of the older kids understood the candy-throwing-drill much better than she did. She was a little late each time anyone threw candy, so it was difficult for her to come up with any candy.

After a few groups paraded by, I noticed her sitting on the curb with her chest curled up to her knees and lower lip hanging out a mile. She was so SAD! We talked with her a bit about it and did our best to prepare her for retrieving candy from the next group in the parade. She did get a bit better at it, running to the front of the kids, or finding an open space, and politely raising her hand for candy. I appreciated her manners, but I could see that she was not yet ready for the hard-core competition for candy (and that’s fine by me)!

Occasionally another kid would start bawling after coming up empty-handed from the latest candy toss. It was so dramatic and comical to watch as sort of detached bystanders! Fortunately our daughter seemed to adjust as the parade went on. When I suggested it, she even shared a piece of her candy with a three-year-old girl, who was not in the candy-grabbing fray with the bigger kids whatsoever. A big smile spread over her face as she passed along a Tootsie Roll and all of us parents smiled in approval.

I’m sure next year she’ll be more prepared for candy at parades, but I sincerely hope to instill within her the joy of giving & sharing more than just the joy of receiving.

How was your 4th of July parade and celebration? I hope everyone enjoyed the long weekend!

How I Became a World Cup Fan

Looking back I was not a huge soccer fan by any means.  In 1998 I was part of my high school exchange with families in Germany.  We ended up touring Paris at the end of our 3-week stay in Germany for two days.  At the time I certainly noticed the FIFA World Cup was happening in Paris, but as a first time visitor, I just assumed the large crowds were part of the cities’ overall popularity.  I do remember seeing a soccer stadium from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

My overall reaction in 1998: Meh…

Fast forward to 2001 and I meet my future husband while playing basketball at open gym during college.  He played soccer in high school and is a big fan. After dating for about six months, he graduates and moves to Illinois to start working.  I fly to Tokyo for a summer internship program with the railway company. I write more about my time in Japan here and here.

Part of my internship, besides writing a marketing plan to increase ridership of foreign tourists, included assessing how easy it is for an English speaking passenger to ride the railroad.

My scrapbook page including a guide for the 2002 World Cup fans

My scrapbook page including a guide for the 2002 World Cup fans

As I wrote above, there were a lot of Football Guides for fans located at stations near stadiums.  We also learned the IMMENSE amount of preparation that Yokohama station underwent to make sure everything went smoothly for game days.  All station employees knew SOME English, so they could assist non-Japanese speaking riders too.  I’m pictured on the page above (see tall girl in the middle) when I helped teach station employees English for one morning.  I also worked in the station for a bit and was proud to help an English speaking tourist find his way.

Internship aside, the 2002 World Cup was split between Japan and Korea, so it had a different feel. Being in Tokyo I wasn’t too close (nor too far) from a stadium, but I didn’t have tickets to any games.  Japan didn’t host many public viewing sites (or if they did, I didn’t know about them in Tokyo), so my watching of games was limited to my tiny apartment. Wild and exciting, right?!

My overall reaction in 2002: Football (as the rest of the world calls it) is kind of cool

In March 2005 that same boyfriend from college drove across several states, so we could finally live in the same city, after having a long-distance relationship for a few years.  He proposed and I said YES!  We had a mini-moon right after our wedding in Wisconsin, and then went to Germany in June 2006 for our proper honeymoon, which included going to a World Cup game.

The World Cup was EVERYWHERE in Germany!

World Cup 2002 in Germany.  Murals painted on the ceiling of the train station, fans in the street.

World Cup 2002 in Germany. Zidane  & Ballack mural painted on the ceiling of the train station, fans in the street.

It was unlike anything I had seen before when in Tokyo or Paris.  I couldn’t help but get swept up in the excitement of the World Cup along with my husband (then just Mr. O.).

One of our favorite nights - watching Germany play at a public viewing in a outer-lying area of Stuttgart

One of our favorite nights – watching Germany play at a public viewing in a outer-lying area of Stuttgart – amazing beer and a win for Germany

Mr. O. had to request tickets even before he had proposed to me, so we were unsure which game we would even see.  It ended up being England versus Ecuador in the qualifying round. Here we are before the game:

Game Day - being photo-bombed by a English fan!

Game Day – being photo-bombed by a English fan! (and we kind of look like tourists here! I remember security took our extra camera batteries, telling us that they could be thrown and hurt someone – really?!)

We ended up sitting by some German fans, who were, like us, more neutral fans at the game.  The England fans were in full force with A LOT of cheers and flags decorating the stadium.

Mr. and Mrs. O. at the England - Ecuador Game in Stuttgart 2006 World Cup

Scenes from the England – Ecuador Game we went to in Stuttgart, 2006 World Cup

England ended up winning 1-0 on a penalty kick by David Beckham.  It was a pretty awesome, once-in-a-lifetime experience!

My overall reaction in 2006: World Cup Football IS awesome!

Though we haven’t been to other World Cup games since our honeymoon (and we certainly are NOT in Brazil), I am still a World Cup fan.  It IS always impressive to see teams and athletes competing at the top of their sport.  Being that it only happens every four years makes it all the more special.

I’ll be watching the USA play Germany with Daddy O. and our two kids (who will hopefully cooperate during the entire match). I’ll be cheering for USA of course, but have a soft spot in my heart for Germany, where I finally became a World Cup fan in 2006.

How do you feel about soccer and the World Cup?  Has your level of fan-dom changed over the years like mine did?