Saturday, July 3

World Cup Fever!

About a week before the World Cup began, my neighbor put up his flag. In the year and a half we've lived here, we hadn't really seen German flags unless they were in official places so it was something new to start seeing them everywhere. To my knowledge, there's no national day like our 4th of July.

The match was at 4pm. We made a run to the pool to cool off but the pool began emptying at 3. All the German decor is out in force now daily -- cars with window flags, rear view mirror flag covers, car hoods wrapped in the flag, plastic flower leis hanging on necks and rear view mirrors . . . the kids at McKay's school wear the team's jersey and sport flag tattoos on their cheeks and arms. We also see other countries from all over represented by their car and home flags waving. With the tournament well underway, we also have been seeing and hearing kids blowing those infernal horns too. Whose idea was that anyways?! But it's really quite exciting and Ryan loves the fervor which is akin to what he experienced on his mission in Brasil when they won the World Cup in 1994.

Americans don't rally behind soccer and the World Cup like many countries do so this is new to me. It is real fun to see Germany cheer their team on. Our AFN satellite has a 5 second delay from what our neighbors see with German cable. You can tell when they score and you hear them start celebrating as you then see the goal. I must say "Well Done!" on a decisive 4-0 victory, Germany, and giving us a great show tonight! Wish I hadn't been so exhausted, I love the game, but with McKay snuggled up after our pool outing we both crashed through most of it. Some fan I am!

After the match today, we sure got a kick out of driving around! Here's a bit of what I was able to catch on the move.

Traffic circles were the favorite! People would circle around them many times honking their car horns, shouting, and blowing the other horns. If you passed a biergarten, you'd sometimes hear boisterous singing too.

Here's a tractor, much like I see every day around our town which is surrounded by fields. This tractor, however, was pulling a large wagon load of happily drinkin', loud and proud flag-waving fans!

This pretty much epitomizes what we saw and heard for two hours straight tonight! So fun! I'm a little upset by the Burger King behind it. This was taken near an American airfield as these guys left the traffic circle. I wish you could hear all the honkin' and hollerin'! Ryan was thrilled to honk along with the rest of them!

We stopped and grabbed some dinner which happened to be near a traffic circle. It was so fun to see the different cars doing their celebrating. Here's Morgan enjoying her apfelshorle (carbonated apple juice) and giving me her cheesy grin.

Easton begged and begged for pepperoni pizza and then drank a ton of apfelsaft (apple juice, no bubblies) while waiting for it to come so he never even ate a piece. [Sigh!] Can you read the boredom on his face? Miraculously, he was hungry for popcorn the minute we got home since they were going to watch Wall-E.

Upon returning home, I saw my neighbor's flag waving in the evening breeze. We have very happy neighbors tonight!

I had an interesting chat with McKay's kindergarten teacher this week. We were talking about the World Cup and how she uses it to teach the kids geography and math as they keep track of the matches each day. She noted that four years ago when the tournament was held in Germany, it was the first time she saw everyone proudly waving, wearing, and decorating with the flag. That it was a real turning point she witnessed with great joy. All over Germany, big screens were set up all over for people to gather and watch the matches. She is in her 50s and said she couldn't do all this as a child because the flag was associated with the Nazis. She is very happy to see such a sense of national pride again in the younger generations. Many Germans sure LOVE soccer!!!

Kids around here can dribble circles around US kids of the same age! In a friend's town, when they recently signed their two boys aged 7 and 9 up for the local year-round team, they discovered the kids practiced four days a week, two hours per practice! Six year olds were being taught how to do diving headers on mats! Compare that with the one hour practices twice a week I ran this spring concentrating on bare bones basics! No wonder there's a skills gap! As I've talked a with a few friends, many of them won't sacrifice the family time missed for that type of intense commitment and wish there was a more laid back alternative while others just love it. Either way, the German team sure is doing spectacular and it's fun to be here for it!