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?

How to Celebrate Independence Day, the John Adams Way

I have loved this quote from John Adams regarding Independence Day celebrations ever since I read it last year:

“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty; it ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

Even though he said it over 200 years ago, it describes perfectly our Fourth of July celebrations today!

  • Pomp and Parade? Check! Between speeches and patriotic music, I think we’ve got pomp covered. And I do love a good Independence Day parade!
  • Shows, Games and Sports? Check! The shows might be a little different from what John Adams had envisioned, but who doesn’t love an opportunity to watch Yankee Doodle Dandy? Or The Patriot? Or 1776? Or Independence Day? And the Fourth of July is a great time for families, friends, and neighbors to get together and play all sorts of games, or to watch a sporting event on TV.
  • Guns? Check! Between cannon blasts, and fireworks, (which are really just colorful guns), this is probably the most anticipated event of any given Independence Day.
  • Bells? Check! If not church bells ringing, then bells in concerts all across the country. Big or small, bells are ringing all around America for the Fourth of July.
  • Bonfires and Illuminations? Check! There are those fireworks, again, and lights in general, as everyone stays up late to celebrate America’s birthday. Even backyard bonfires are not uncommon, as families huddle around them, and talk late into the night.
  • From one end of the continent to the other? Check! I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t love at least some aspect of the Fourth of July, whether it’s the fireworks or the time with family, the food or the parades. And it doesn’t matter if you live in a big city or small town, (or even on a farm in the middle of nowhere), east coast or west, north or south–Americans all over this country are celebrating today–celebrating our strength and our freedoms, celebrating all of the things that make this country great!

You Think?!?

This article belongs in the “so obvious, it’s insulting” category.

Seriously, they needed a study to discover that people drink at pro sporting events? I hope these researches didn’t sink a lot of money into a study that could be verified by anyone who has ever attended such an event!

My Favorite Things–Movies


Gone With the Wind–Love the movie almost as much as the book–Scarlett gets to wear so many beautiful dresses, and I’m a sucker for anything Civil War related.

Apollo 13–It doesn’t matter how many documentaries I see, or how many times I studied it in history, or how many times I see the movie itself, I always wonder if they’re going to make it home.

The American President–The line at the end about the rose garden gets me every time!

Little Women–Can I say that I still hate Amy, and that Jo and Laurie should have gotten married?

Dirty Dancing–OK, not the most wholesome movie, but I love the dancing.

Jerry Maguire–I liked this movie a lot more before Tom Cruise got so weird, but it still makes me smile.

Save the Last Dance–Cool movie, takes place in Chicago, love the dancing.

Ever After–Such a neat twist on the Cinderella story!


Hoosiers–This movie still sends chills up my spine, and I’m guessing I’ve probably seen it at least 50 times, if not more. The music is so well written, and when Norman Dale is driving down those country roads at the beginning of the movie, I feel an inexplicable longing to live in that time and that place.

A League of Their Own–I love the time period of this movie, and love the concept. Can’t imagine playing baseball in a dress, though!

The Cutting Edge–It’s just cute–plus, I love figure skating!

Major League–I know, I know–it’s horribly offensive, but it’s also hilarious, and having grown up a Milwaukee Brewers fan, I have to love Bob Uecker’s performance.


My Big Fat Greek Wedding–Break out the Windex and the uzzo (did I even spell that right?)! This movie reminds me of all of my favorite things about Chicago.

The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries 2–Royal Engagement–Every little girl dreams about being a princess, and apparently, that dream didn’t die as I got older. When I watch these movies, I can still imagine that someday, the royal family will call and offer me my crown…

Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride 2–There is just nothing not to like about these movies. Hilarity at it’s finest!

13 Going on 30–This movie takes such an innocent approach to everything. There’s very little offensive in it, it’s funny and sweet and cute. I’m going to have to watch it again soon!

Clueless–I’m kind of embarrassed to admit how much I like this movie. Everybody has a guilty pleasure of some kind, right? I am reminded of all the best things and all of the worst things about high school whenever I watch it.

What Women Want–Seriously, does it get much funnier than this? Who knew Mel Gibson could be so hilarious! I just about die every time he tries to put the pantyhose on!

Cheaper by the Dozen (original and remake)–This is a great movie, although the original sure does make me cry. Then again, I sobbed during the remake, too–I was pregnant, it’s a long story that makes me sound crazy…never mind.

Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation–I think this is the only movie on my list that I don’t actually own. I didn’t even know it was available on DVD until I looked it up today. Like On Moonlight Bay, this is another one that I would watch whenever it would come on cable, because it’s just so darn funny!

The Parent Trap (original only!)–It’s corny, but it’s also sweet.


White Christmas–This may be my favorite movie, ever. Which is unfortunate, given there’s only about a month a half out of the year where it’s acceptable to watch it. I love the music, I really love the dancing (come on, didn’t we all dance along to “Sisters” when we were little girls?), I love the time period. And the costumes…I’d give an arm to wear some of those, especially the red and white dresses at the end. And that final set…ahhh, Christmas decorating at it’s finest.

Elf–This is a fairly recent addition to my list, but there is something so hilarious and yet charming about this film. Bob Newhart as the old elf? Genius! And don’t even get me started about Ed Asner playing Santa!

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation–Another movie I’m embarrassed to admit I like, but when that squirrel comes flying out of the Christmas tree…

The Muppet Christmas Carol–I have seen a lot of versions of A Christmas Carol, but this one is my favorite, because it’s not that dark, and it’s really funny. How can anything with Rizzo the rat be anything but?


Cars–One of the few children’s movies we have that I can watch over and over and not get sick of it. And I think it has such a good message on top of it.

Fantasia–I confess, I can’t watch this movie without falling asleep at some point during it, but I still think it’s one of the neatest ideas ever for an animated film.

Cinderella–I liked this movie OK before, but Bunny has made me watch it so many times, it’s really grown on me.


Seven Brides for Seven Brothers–This is another movie I’ve watched a ridiculous number of times. But again, I’m a sucker for singing and dancing, and there is plenty of both in this one.

Sound of Music–A nod to my Austrian roots–I always wonder what my Grandfather’s life was like when I watch this movie, although he left Austria a good 15-20 years before they did in the film.

On Moonlight Bay–I waited for what seemed like a lifetime (which, at the time I suppose was technically true!) for this movie to come out on DVD. I saw it for the first time in college, and watched it every time it was on cable after that, and kept patiently waiting for my own copy, which I now have. I have yet to see the sequel, By the Light of the Silvery Moon, but I’m hoping it’s as good.

State Fair–“It’s the best state fair in our state!” This line didn’t used to make any sense to me, but I suppose in Illinois, there could be some argument over who has the best state fair in the state!