Olympic dreamers

If you’re like me, you are suffering from an Olympic-sized hangover.

No booze is required for this hangover, only staying up late on a school night (or several in a row in my case) to watch the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang staged in South Korea.

Therefore, it’s all I’ve got for this week’s blog.

I’ve been an Olympic nerd my entire life – both summer and winter – but for reasons that may be somewhat obvious, I’ve watched them through a different lens this year.

Of course, I take enormous satisfaction when the USA takes home a gold, or any, medal. I’m an unapologetic homer.

But a few things struck me as I’ve watched this year.

With all of the contentiousness in the world, the Olympics have been a reminder to me to look at mankind  as a product of the same creator, even if national pride is the dog we have in the hunt.

My favorite sport to watch so far has been the half pipe and the  gold medalists in both the women’s and men’s event were who I was rooting for – Americans Chloe Kim and Shaun White.

They are incredible athletes who happen to be American.

It was clear early on that every single person in the competitions trained hard and had big dreams, regardless of their country of origin, or who they were competing for.

Chloe Kim, only 17 years old, is the daughter of parents who immigrated to the United States from South Korea. After her gold medal win, her father called her “the American Dream.”

I’ve had my DNA tested since the last Olympics, which puts a whole new spin on how I view them, because I realize I might be hoping a distant cousin crashes out on her giant slalom run, which is not a way to bring the family closer.

Suddenly, as someone who now knows I’m more than 50% German, it hurts far less to see them leading in the medal count so far. Ireland, who claims a full quarter of my DNA,  hasn’t played much of a role in the winter games, with five athletes competing in four events and no medals so far, or probably at all. I get my sporting chops, it seems, from my Celtic blood.

I also found out I have no native American in my DNA at all, which puts me in the same boat as Chloe Kim, only a few generations later.

It does my heart good to see the athletes of the world putting aside their differences to achieve the same dreams. It is, I think, humanity at its best these days.

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God Bless the Bloated Road

It’s not often a person can brag they went around the world in a month, but here we are.

It wasn’t just me, but my entire family that went on this journey and we never left our kitchens.

I left December a few pounds heavier after the culinary road trip that took us to Germany, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, and of course, the deep south.

Every year at Christmas my family picks a food theme that will cleanse our collective palates of turkey.

This year we chose Mexican food, and my Mom’s house was full of tacos, enchiladas, guacamole, queso, enchiritos and sweets – all homemade. We are amazing when we travel together, and even moreso when we cook together.

Nobody messed up, and there will be nobody to bring paper goods to the next event, so we’ll probably travel to the Sandwich Islands next year.

A week later, the culinary adventure continued in South Carolina when my daughter (who is not Italian, that I know of) greeted us the first night there with her homemade spaghetti. The next night they took us to Brazil with some great steaks, then off to Germany when my son-in-law made Schnitzel.

When it was my turn for the trip’s itinerary, I chose our roots.

This means I went all the way to the redneck branch of the family that likes to sit on the porch with our crazy and a mason jar full of … homemade (of course) beverages.

That’s right, my leg of the trip wasn’t to a glamorous place, unless you consider banjos elegant dinner music. I took us to the woods where Spam and potatoes are fried together openly and with no shame whatsoever.

And it was good, as long as you don’t consider my husband’s opinion about Spam and the people who eat it.

We ran out of year before he could take us to his country where the food is brown and vegetables that aren’t spelled p-o-t-a-t-o are not on the menu.

It just occured to me what I really got for Christmas. Pounds – delicious ones and a lot of them. And I have just enough time to get into shape before our next trip.

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