Summer School 2021

It seemed like the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics would never get here, and now they’ve already come and gone. Here’s a look back at our Japan-themed summer school.

We visited Origami in the Garden at the Missouri Botanical several times over the summer. The large-scale art installation was the perfect field trip to coincide with Tokyo 2020 (and was also postponed from last summer).

We also visited the Olympic Spectacular in St. Louis at Francis Field, home of the 1904 Summer Games:

I made a few fun treats for the Olympics…Olympics torches (white chocolate covered pretzels) and Team USA CHEERios treats.

We did a lot of cooking and tried a lot of Japanese foods. I worked really hard to find things we hadn’t had before, and used a variety of cooking methods and unfamiliar ingredients. We tried:

  • Spicy Ramen/Udon
  • Pork Gyoza
  • Coffee Jelly
  • Okonomiyaki
  • Matcha Mochi Cake
  • Vegetable Tempura
  • Potato Korokke
  • Fluffy Japanese Cheesecake
  • Kani Cream Korokke
  • Chicken Katsu Sandwich
  • Matcha Green Tea Cookies
  • Oyakodon

We were supposed to go out to a Japanese restaurant this summer, but COVID-19, so we got a party platter of sushi instead:

I’ve been holding on to the Lego Architecture Tokyo skyline since last year, and we finally got to build it!

Our American Girl dolls got into the Olympic spirit:

In between watching as much of the Olympics as we could, we also did some more traditional school work. We learned about Japanese history and culture, as well as the history of the Olympics. We read a lot of books…some I read out loud, and some were book basket choices. We also watched a selection of Olympic documentaries:

  • FirstLondon 2012
  • The Everlasting FlameBeijing 2008
  • Atlanta’s Olympic GloryAtlanta 1996
  • 16 Days of GloryLos Angeles 1984
  • Athens 2004: Stories of Olympic Glory
  • Seoul 1988

And we also did several crafts, including origami, paper lanterns, Koinobori (Japanese carp windsocks), pipe cleaner and tissue paper cherry blossom branches, and medals (of course!):

I’ve been holding on to Ticket to Ride: Japan since last year, and we finally had a chance to play! I really enjoyed the new game mechanics introduced in this edition, and it was fun to get to know the geography of the area a little bit better.

We updated our medal chart every evening…here’s a look at the final results…we were very excited that the US won the gold medal race and had the most medals overall!

And, better late than never, our Family Olympics, which was delayed due to heat. We only had four events this year (frisbee throw, broad jump, soccer kicks, and a running race), thanks to time constraints and a lack of basketball hoops on the backboards we normally use. Technically, Turkey came in first, but since we participate as a family, we all won gold!

This summer school was a long time coming. I think we all still have mixed feelings about the fact that the Olympics were held at this time, but we had to just accept that that was out of our control, and embrace the Olympics as we usually do. It’s always hard to say goodbye when they extinguish the flame, but the Winter Olympics are less than six months away, and we only have to wait three more years for Paris 2024!

The Top Five–Best Moments of Tokyo 2020

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are already starting to wind down, and while there are a few days of competition left, I thought I’d take a look at my favorite moments from the Games:

  • Sharing Gold–I think my very favorite moment from Tokyo 2020 was when the men’s high jump gold was awarded to two athletes, because they chose to share it, even though they could have kept competing until one came out on top. This embodied the new Olympic ideal of “Stronger Together” better than any other moment I saw.
  • Grace and Courage–Simone Biles was a much-talked about competitor, which wasn’t a surprise, but the reason people were talking was unexpected, because no one expected her to suffer from the twisties and have to withdraw from most of the events. I really admire the grace and courage with which she handled the situation, and I was thrilled that not only was she able to come back and compete in her final event on her terms, but take home a medal on top of it!
  • Tom Gets Gold…and Knits–I was so happy when Great Britain’s Tom Daley finally won a gold medal in the synchronized platform dive. If that wasn’t enough, I was also completely charmed by the pictures of him knitting in the stands, and even while waiting between his own dives!
  • Gold Medal From Lane One–The US men’s swimming team has won the 4x100m relay in every Olympics the US has participated in. This year, there was less certainty about them getting gold, especially since they were swimming in lane one. But they powered through, and brought home the gold (and a world record!) once again!
  • Any Moment Called by Rowdy Gaines–Rowdy is pretty much my favorite sports commentator ever. I love how excited he gets, no matter who is in the lead, when he’s watching a good race in the pool. Every sport deserves to have a commentator like him, who has an incredible passion for what they’re calling!

Update on August 8th:

  • I’m not sure which moment I should replace, but the US women’s volleyball team winning their first gold medal on the final day definitely makes my “Top Five” list. Seeing Karch Kiraly, who I have watched since his court volleyball days, break down into tears of joy for his team was an Olympic moment I won’t forget!

What are the moments you’ll remember from Tokyo 2020?

Chickadee Thursday

Every evening, Chickadee and I update our medal chart…this picture if from Tuesday, right after we watched Simone Biles win bronze on beam!

We can’t believe how quickly the Olympics have gone by!

The Top Five–Olympic Sports

It’s time another Top Five list, this one inspired by the Olympic Games! I’m taking a look at my favorite sports to watch in the Summer Olympics:

  • Swimming–I was thinking about my very favorite Olympic sport before the Olympics began, and I was a little surprised to discover that it’s swimming. I love excitement of the races, getting to see world and Olympic records shattered, and learning the back stories of some of the athletes. I think it’s Rowdy Gaines’ love of the sport that really makes me love swimming, though…his passion and enthusiasm for swimming are contagious. As Turkey said this week, “everyone should have something they love as much as Rowdy Gaines loves swimming.” Although, to be honest, I’m not certain that anyone loves something as much as Rowdy Gaines loves swimming!
  • Artistic Gymnastics–I would have assumed that artistic gymnastics is my favorite Olympic sport. My earliest memories of the Olympics are of watching Mary Lou Retton compete, and I still remember not just American gymnasts, but competitors from all over the world from each Olympic Games I have seen. While swimming may be my favorite Olympic sport, gymnastics is definitely a close second…I love watching the athletes fly through the air and complete skills that terrify and delight me!
  • Diving–This sport is kind of where swimming and gymnastics meet, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that it’s one of my favorites. It scares me to death, especially the 10m platform, because I can’t imagine jumping off something so high. I also have very vivid memories of Greg Louganis hitting his head during the Seoul 1988 Games, so I know that it can actually be dangerous. But there’s also an elegance to it, and even though it looks scary to me, it also looks fun!
  • Water Polo–If it wasn’t for the Olympics, I don’t think I’d know anything about this sport. I still don’t understand all of the rules I’m sure, but there’s something so fun about what is essentially handball (another sport I enjoy watching) being played in the water. Plus, it’s kind of an angry sport, which I have to admit, appeals to me!
  • Rhythmic Gymnastics–As is so often the case with the fifth position, this was the most difficult to choose. I considered artistic swimming, which I love, and my new favorite Olympic sport, surfing, but in the end, dancing with a ribbon wins the day. There is so much grace and artistry in rhythmic gymnastics that it really has more in common with ballet than artistic gymnastics, which is part of why I love it.

What are you favorite Olympic sports? Have you discovered something new that’s your new favorite?

Sartorial Saturday–Inspired by the Olympics

I love a themed outfit. Coming up with an outfit that goes with the Olympics, however, is a bit of a challenge. Until I realized that Hello Kitty is the perfect sartorial representation of Tokyo 2020!

The Hello Kitty collection from Unique Vintage isn’t really new anymore, and I missed out on the first run of this Golightly dress, my favorite style from Unique Vintage. When they replenished their stock, I was determined not to miss out on it again, especially once I realized that it did fit the Tokyo 2020 theme!

I accessorized with a Splendette stack of duchess bangles, a Meteor Jewelry necklace, a blue hair flower from Pinup Girl Clothing, and a Hello Kitty brooch from Erstwilder, of course!

Even though the dress is primarily pink, I also went with a Team USA theme of red, white and blue in the outfit:

I love finding creative ways to make my outfits fit a theme!

A Japanese Feast for the Opening Ceremonies

It seemed at times like today would never come, but finally, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have begun! Whether or not they should be held no longer matters, because they’ve gone ahead, and as long as they Olympics are going on, I’m doing all of the things I meant to do last summer, starting with a special dinner for the Opening Ceremonies.

We started with homemade pork gyoza and rayu. I’ve made the gyoza before, but making the rayu from scratch was a new experience!

The main course was spicy ramen/udon with ajitsuke tamago (ramen eggs). The broth was made with dashi, kimchi, soy sauce, leeks, garlic, miso, gochujang, and shiitake mushrooms. It was served over spicy chicken and bacon, and topped with nori, bean sprouts, and green onions.

For dessert, I made coffee jelly:

We waited a long time to have this meal, but I think it was worth the wait!

Francis Olympic Field

Did you know that the Summer Olympic Games were once held in St. Louis?

The 1904 Olympics were supposed to be held in Chicago, but the organizers of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, also known as the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, were not thrilled about that idea. They actually began to plan their own international sports contest, forcing Pierre de Coubertin himself to step in and move the Summer Games to St. Louis. The central location for the 1904 Olympics was Francis Field, located on the campus of Washington University, and named for David R. Francis, a former governor of Missouri and president of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. (Other venues included Forest Park, Glen Echo Country Club, and Creve Coeur Lake.) Among the events contested at Francis Field in 1904 were wrestling, gymnastics, athletics, lacrosse, tug of war, and roque (the only time that sport has been an Olympic event!).

The stadium is a U.S. National Historic Landmark, but is also the current home of the Washington University Bears football team, as well as the track and field and soccer teams.

Adjacent to the field is the St. Louis Olympic Spectacular, which was unveiled in 2018:

Although there was controversy surrounding the 1904 Olympic Games (something we can definitely relate to today!), it’s still pretty cool knowing that St. Louis is one of only three U.S. cities to host the Summer Olympics!