August 11, 2008

The Olympics.

I grew up in an Olympic-watching family, a very passionate Olympic-watching family. I vividly remember seeing Dorothy Hamill skate her way to a gold medal in the 1976 Winter Olympics -- and yes, I promptly went out and got the haircut -- and I remember Nadia Comaneci's perfect 10 in Montreal. I spent one summer Olympics begging to go to McDonald's so I could collect the Olympic stamps on the sides of the cups that let you win prizes when the athletes won medals.

I went to my Freshman orientation at UCLA just after the 1984 Los Angeles games had ended and the fences that had surrounded Olympic Village housing were still in place. I happened to have Tracee Talavera and Valerie Zimmring, both Olympic athletes, in my orientation group. (You might remember the rhythmic gymnast whose leotard completely unzipped during her routine . . . that was Valerie.) I couldn't have been more thrilled.

Eric and I were privileged to spend a hosted week at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, where we were totally captivated by the entire experience. We also went to the Winter Olympics in Nagano Japan. Those winter games had an austerity that was such a sharp contrast to the games in Atlanta. We love Japan and experiencing a Japanese Olympics was simply magical. We attended our third Olympic Games in Salt Lake City and again fell under the event-attending-pin-trading-I'm-so-proud-to-be-an-American spell of it all.

We were on vacation, with no access to a television, for the Opening Ceremonies of this Olympics in Beijing. We also missed the first couple days of competition but every night since we've been home we've watched the Olympics, and the girls have watched bits and pieces of it in between playing whatever the game of the moment is.

Michal, Kenna and I also watch the Olympic coverage during the Today Show and this morning there was a piece on the "Green Woodpeckers," who are in charge of picking up litter and wiping up spit. Unless you've been to China and know what a daunting task this would be, I don't think you could fully appreciate the piece. Spitting is very common in China. There are signs many places asking people not to spit but people still do. You should have seen the looks on the Chinese people's faces when the Green Woodpeckers came up to them, handed them a tissue and told them to wipe up their spit and then handed them a card with "rules of civility" for them to follow.

While we've been watching the Olympics I have probably said, "Look girls, it's China" 100 times. I'm sure they now have a somewhat-funny view of China as a Club Med of sorts with a giant swimming pool in a lighted cube, a sand volleyball court and lots of girls doing gymnastics. That and a Great Wall.

I guess I've mention a few times that Eric and I climbed The Great Wall before we met them. Ummm, I've mentioned it every time they've shown The Great Wall during the Olympics, which, if you've been watching, is fairly often. I realized just how many times I've said it when they were playing "adoption" yesterday. When they play "adoption" one is a baby and the other is the mommy coming to adopt the baby. Kenna was the baby and Michal was the mommy. When Michal came to get her Kenna said, "Wait. Did you climb The Wall first?"

So now they've got the whole process down . . . fill out lots of paperwork, get on an airplane and fly to China, climb the Great Wall and then meet your baby.

(The photo below is of the Gold Medalist in trampoline, who is from China, Michal and Kenna's very favorite event.)

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