US Olympic Gymnastic Team Wins Gold All Around for the First Time Since 1996

Congratulations to the US Olympic Gymnastic Team on winning last night! I had to wake up at 4 AM to see them compete. What a competition. This is the first time the team has one all around since 1996, that is 16 years ago! They all did an amazing job! I can’t wait to see them compete individual all around. But I am hoping to see some changes after this Olympics with the coding – for example Jordyn Weiber gets 4th behind Ally Raisman and Gabby Douglas but doesn’t get to compete all around because she is the third American to make it? Number 33 gets to make it, but not her? I just think, this is the Olympics – where the best of the best compete – and you are taking away the best because they are from the same country? It doesn’t seem right. I really wish the judges could change that, but since it is for all sports, that would be a HUGE consideration to change for the all the competitions.

I must add that McKayla Maroney did the most perfect vault I have ever seen. Just thought I add that to the mix, she contributed her part (to the maximum of her capability). Outstanding performance!

Looking at the girls, lately I have been really missing the gym, and I think it is time. I think I want to start gymnastics up again. I’m 5″2.5 so I’m still a good size – the gymnasts were even 5″3 at the Olympics – and I’m willing to work as hard as ever. I think right now, I will start really trying to stretch, build my upper, lower body strength, strength my back and stomach, and just try to get the endurance and strength up to get back into the gym. I still need to call my coach – who is currently judging at the Olympics. I want to get in shape, call my coach to see if she will even accept me back (which I really hope because I did win 14 and under nationals when I was 12 – my last competition – for them before I got sick), and then we’ll see from there. I definitely am keeping school my first priority. But no decisions have been made, although I am really leaning towards picking gymnastics up again – I really believe I have a shot if I can work hard and be focused. I finally went to see a neurologist at John’s Hopkins (what a coincidence, because I might be doing the John’s Hopkins Youth program online for my math course – I’m taking the test tomorrow – since my school won’t let me skip into pre-calculus next year) and it turns out I have migraines called Chronic Daily Migraines. The neurologist gave me medicine to take everyday as well as another type of medicine when it gets really bad. It is suppose to kick in soon (it takes about 2 months)…so we’ll see how it works, I’m really hoping this time everything turns out okay. On the contrary, I will have these for the rest of my life – he said that in a few years it would probably go down to having 2 bad episodes a month.

But with all this information, and for me to finally not be in the dark anymore, I feel like I have control. I was ripped out of place, I wasn’t ready to leave the gym when I had too. I know in the beginning I felt that it meant I should move on with my life and focus on a new path. But what if it was to redirect me to still continue school – not just being home schooled – as well as going to the gym? All I know is I’m confused, I miss the gym, I wish things could have worked out differently but they haven’t so I need to work with what I’m given, I’m thankful that it isn’t something worse, but I can do something now…I’m just at a fork in the road and need to decide which way to go. I’m also asking one of my friends, whom I met at a gymnastics camp 2 years ago (we still keep in contact although she lives in New Jersey. My mom even drove down there while we were in the States last year to go see them for lunch), about what I should do . She knows exactly what it is like to be a gymnast. Ultimately, it is my decision, so I need to see what I feel is the best decision and look at what I can do.

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Sushi, My Style

yes, it’s sushi….but just not as pretty. It’s hommade! Something to get your hands messy – beware it is sticky – yet enjoy. You have the most fun making them! And just after a few practice rounds, your on your way to become a real professional sushi chef. Usually, mine turn out better, but the pictures say it all:

It doesn’t have to be perfect. As long as it tastes good, and looks decent, you, your family, and everyone will love it. You definitely can have this at a party too.

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Making Sushi Rice:

  • 4.5 cups of cooked white sushi rice
  • 1/8 cup of vinegar
  • 1/6 cup of sugar
  • a pinch of salt

In a small sauce pan, combine the vinegar, sugar and salt. Place it over the stove, and mix until the sugar is fully dissolved. Once cooled, add this mixture to the rice, until fully blended.

Now use this rice mixture for your sushi as seen above in the pictures.

For a normal looking sushi, put a good amount of rice, vegetables desired, covered with more rice on top, over a piece of seaweed (smooth side facing down). Then, use your sushi mat to help you roll the sushi into the desired shape. Cut into pieces.

For an inside out sushi, cover the seaweed (smooth side facing down) 2/3 of the way with rice. Flip it over. Then add all the vegetable desired (I just used cucumber and carrots because that’s all we had. But I would recommend adding avocado and sweet potato). Using the sushi mat, roll the sushi into the desired shape. Cut into individual pieces.

You are ready to serve! Or, you can let it cool in the refrigerator for awhile before serving family, or any guests.

Remember, it’s the learning experience and having fun. Good Luck!

Cake Pop Cake-taste-trophy

Ever remember someone telling you something glorious but with the slightest devilish grin that nudged an uneasiness up the back of your mind?

Well, that’s exactly what my beloved cake pops did to me. So cute, apparently so simple, and just begging to be made, but underneath all those tutorials, those recipes and websites, the devilish grin of extensive labor and unsettling puzzlement with the end result hid behind their lightly covered candy melt shell. To be short, I had a lot of mishaps, and they didn’t come out as well as I would’ve liked – ahh…correction, as cute as I would’ve liked.

I’m inserting pictures of my cake pop experience. The colored ones sort of look like truffula trees from the Lorax.

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My brother was coming back from a 28 day wrestling camp in Minnesota – for any of you that know anything about it, it’s called  J. Robinson 28 Day Wrestling Camp. He got the “I did it” shirt, therefore finishing the camp with enough points. Basically, you start with a given amount of points, and each day you have four practices – weight training, wrestling, technique, and running. If you don’t work well enough, they deduct a certain amount of points – you don’t know how much for sure. If you miss practices because of an injury, or you get a staph infection for instance, points are deducted. But if you do very well, you can get a “positive” where they add a certain amount of points. On the last day, everyone (of the 300 + high school boys) run a 15 mile run. Then you will get, if passing the minimum requirement of points over the course of the 28 days, get the “I did it” shirt. There is another shirt my brother got which is the blue Navy Seal Challenge shirt. It’s a challenge that requires 11 pull ups, 80 push ups, running, swimming….so on, I don’t remember it all, but it’s very rigorous, and hardly anyone gets it – it’s the highest “honor” you can get at the camp. So anyways, I’m really proud of him, and since he was flying back here, I wanted to make something special…which brought about the whole cake pop idea. I wanted to try something new, and I wanted to expand my skills of baking.

I found a really good red velvet cake recipe that is very moist. I ran out of vegetable oil so had to substitute olive oil, which left a weird taste from the cake. Also, I didn’t put enough red food coloring in the red velvet cake – so it looks more like dirt – and so I compensated the redness by coloring the frosting red (or like a bright pink…I ran out). Normally, the die I use is very concentrated, so it works very well, it just wasn’t my day to bake….

So if any of you are interested here is the red velvet cake recipe:

  • 2.5 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 cups of VEGETABLE oil
  • 1 cup of buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 oz. red food coloring

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8 inch cake pans (or any other cake pan you want to use). Add eggs to the liquid ingredients in a electric mixer until well blended. Set aside. Place all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until combined. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix on medium-high for a minute or two until well blended. Pour the cake batter into the cake pans. Bake for 30 (It took my oven 40) minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let the cakes cool completely before frosting.

For a delicious frosting that I love to use for all types of cake – which is not a “cream cheese” frosting normally used for red velvet cakes — is just below. After finding this recipe I never by store-bought regular frosting, because this is so good, but doesn’t come with all the preservatives of that of store bought frosting – just read the labels, and think twice if this is really what you want to be eating.

Yummy frosting:

  • 1/3 cup of butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of milk

(I’m telling you this frosting is THE best)

Cream the butter, salt, and vanilla,beating until light and fluffy. Add the sugar gradually. Add the 3 tablespoons of milk, an beat until smooth.

Making the Cake Pops:

After you make the cake, you will only need half of it compared to the frosting. So, crumble it into a large bowl, and whip in the frosting. Roll them into balls and place them on a cookie sheet. It will make around 30 + pops. Then put them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Take a popsicle stick and dip the tip into melted candy melts. Place the stick so that it is half way in the pop. Put the cake pops back in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. When close to frozen, you can then dip the pops into melted candy melts (don’t twist, or else they will fall of the stick). Decorate to desired look. I had problems with the thickness of my candy melts, so I still need to figure that out. If it could be really thin, I wouldn’t have had such a hard time and then I would be able to easily decorate them. So, if any of you have any tips on thinning out candy melts, please let me know. But after you complete this, I’m sure you won’t want to make these again – although they are cute, they are very time consuming.

There were some family friends that were leaving post the same day my brother was coming back, so we gave them some cake pops as a little goodbye gift when we met them for dinner at the beach.

Back in Business!

Hey Everyone!

I’m back in Israel…so I’ll start continuing my posts. I’ve been back for about a month, but have been really busy. I’ll let you all know the whole inside story shortly. Just wanted to say that “I’m back in business!” So, plenty of new blogs will be coming out soon, maybe by the time school starts for me – August 13th. Basically, I’m doing hard core studying for math, and I’m trying to fix some new issues with the high school that have recently come up  (I know! Already, and I haven’t even stepped a foot into high school for one day!). I have my whole summer to talk to you all about and then definitely my thoughts…and you know, the usual, whatever pops up – which is always common around here. Just thought I should give you a little heads up, and a bit of excitement from the lazy summer days. Hope to write soon!

Author’s Festival; The Attic

The author’s festival is a writing competition at our school. We have three days (each with 1 hour and 20 minutes – not including time at home) to write one 200 word creative story. This was my final project that I came up with:

THE ATTIC:

Constant streams of sunlight bleach my chestnut, brown skin. Tucked away in the corner of the musty attic, a thick layer of dust veils me. Scratches, the scars of time, imprint my skin but also my soul, reminding me of the one who could make my strings sing. My mere presence once enticed her to play my taunt strings for hours, until we both could play no more. Instead of sunlight, the spotlight poured over us. Gentle but firm fingers danced along my neck. As the vibrant melody crescendoed and her bravado quickened, I felt her heart race. My heart sank through my strings and hers through her fingers. Together our rich mellow tones cascaded across the room. Tzcaikovsky wrote his concerto for us. For hours I yielded myself completely to her as she did to me. The energy we give is replenished with the rich melodious tones that bring heaven to earth and fill us until we can meet once more. The attic door creaks. Moments pass. The door closes and all is still again. I will wait. Years add to my rich tone and she will be pleased with what she hears when she returns. I will wait.

Goodbye for Now

I know I haven’t written in a long time. I have finals coming up, so I am really busy. I think for now, I should just stop blogging. Things have happened because of this blog, and I don’t think sharing my thoughts and feelings to the world is necessarily a good thing, although I do enjoy blogging and reading sweet comments and having followers. For now, I am going to try to keep a diary. I think personal things, such as thoughts and feelings, should be kept private. Just like gossiping should not be spread or spoken. I may come back to blog when I feel the time is right, but for now, I feel as if it is just hurting me and I need to focus on my finals. I appreciate all of you, and I will come back when I’m ready. Thanks for everything you all have done for me!

Holocaust Story

This is what I’m planning on doing for my Hebrew project. I’m currently translating it to Hebrew. I basically wrote the letter as if I were the holocaust survivor writing to a close dear one. Enjoy:

To My Dearest Cousin Tom Vager,

It’s been awhile since the last time I have written you, but there is so much I must share with you.

My family and I are currently in a two bedroom apartment in New York. I definitely miss my old friends and life back in Danzig, but I think the German community of refugees here is helping me and my family transition. Every Saturday all the refugees that fled Europe meet up. By hearing the stories of these “fellow suffers”, it allows me to realize how good luck has played in my favor over my life. These constant meetings help me cope with missing my old friends. I’ve made plenty of new friends in New York, which is also helping me take my mind of what’s going on in Danzig.

Mom is suffering the most. She is depressed and starting to smoke even more than usual, which says a lot since she is a chain-smoker. Also, she drinks over 3 cups of coffee a day. I think she is having a hard time with the fact that we had to sell everything, and now she gets no help at home anymore. I still ponder on how she, despite her depression, makes our meals and cleans the house and keeps our family together. She is a real trooper.

Just writing about Danzig, makes me miss the very place. I used to wake up every morning, lying in bed listening to my parents play chamber music – my dad on the violin, and my mom on the piano. Then, when my dad escaped to Poland, we started to sell everything we owned. I still remember that terrible day when a high ranking officer, with his shiny good-looking uniform, took our grand piano. Striding into our apartment, he acted as if he was a “man of culture.” My mother’s and sister’s valuable treasure, was taken for almost nothing. My sister cried, but there was nothing she could do. That was the most frustrating thing I have ever had to face during the war – watching evil occur right in front of your eyes, but you are unable to do anything about it.

My family and I always wanted to go to America. It was a dream to us, and now we are here in a tiny apartment. Back in Europe my parents talked about fleeing. It began when rumors reached us about what the Nazi’s where doing in other countries to the Jews. It was not until children were beaten on their way to school, my Jewish classmates and I in a German school were harassed, and the Nazi’s took away all the Jewish doctor’s licenses – including my father’s – did we decide to leave. That was when my dad, in the middle of the night, crossed over the border to Poland. My mom, sister, and I started selling and packing our things in preparation to leave also Danzig. Legally, the League of Nations protected Danzig, supposedly a free city. However, Nazi’s still had some control. Having the League of Nations on our side made conditions okay – certainly not as bad as other places in Europe. Jewish lawyers and doctors started getting arrested because they continued to practice their professions. This convinced us to escape to Poland. My dad went first, and we followed two weeks later.

While in Poland I was able to make connections in London to get an apprenticeship. As you know, I use to play violin. I was very interested in learning how to make them. So, the apprenticeship, I thought would be a great advantage to learn how to create violins. I was able to get an apprenticeship visa, while the rest of my family stayed in Poland. I was 16 at the time. Luckily, one of my aunts was there. So, I stayed with her for a week before I found a place for myself. This apprenticeship turned out to be a great disappointed. The violins were imported from China and then just repaired and sold for a much greater price. Two months after my arrival in England, a freighter stopped by for the day. My family was there. I went to visit them while they stayed in London for the day. My landlord came with me too. He met with an immigration official. They were good friends because they attended the same lodge. So, while they talked, my landlord was able to convince the official to allow my family to stay in London with me without them having visas. The freighter that my family went on was destined to go to France, and 6 months after my family arrived, the Nazi’s had taken control of France. Every day I think to myself of how good luck after good luck helped my family survive. I was placed in an internment camp earlier during my stay in England. However, it was quite nice since it was on the Island of Man (located on the Island Sea) where big hotels stood. This was where all the interns, such as myself lived. Then, the Germans took over. They placed all German speaking Jewish men in these hotels – since we were presumed to be spies. They didn’t even have the decency to put my dad and me in the same building. However, my dad, after one week, was able to escape the camp because he was diabetic and the Germans would not tolerate providing food for diabetics. I was able to escape after 10 weeks. My family and I all lived in London together. Often, air raids attacked the city every night from the Germans, and one time the bombing became so severe, that a bomb exploded on our roof. Luckily, the air raid shelter protected us, but we were trapped until the following day when emergency crews dug us out. My family and I, with the help of one of my dad’s former patients (who was the head of a shipping line), were able to get visas to America after 2 years of waiting.

The boat ride from London to New York was very difficult. First off, there was no passenger service. So, my family (mother, father, sister, and I) had to cram into an officer’s cabin. We had to travel in a convoy since German submarines lurked in the water, preparing to attack any ships carrying passengers – mainly Jews. Our trip, during the middle of winter, took 3 weeks before we reached America. The whole time during our journey, I kept my recommendation from London safe. I went to a branch in New York and gave them my recommendation, so that I could hopefully learn how to make violins. I got the job, which turned out to be another disappointment. There were no instruments, but instead, sheets of music. They assigned me the job at the type writer to print music. I was never happy there and went through a whole list of other jobs. But all the while, I still continued playing my violin – the only meaningful possession I still had of my childhood. By the time I turned 19 years old I was told about an orchestra in Texas searching for musicians. Although it was far away, I traveled and preformed for them. No one was as shocked as me when I heard that I had made it. Joining the orchestra was my first professional job. After 3 years I became tired of playing for them. It’s no fun to have a director constantly telling you what to do. So, I quit, and applied to Juilliard.

Here I am, my 4th year in Julliard, and finally writing you. It’s taken me awhile to cope with reality, adjust to new situations, and be able to share what I’ve been through. About 2 years ago my friend asked me to start the Lasalle String Quartets. It took me awhile to think about what I really wanted to do, but I decided to join. The quartet consists of 2 violinists, 1 cellist, and of me, the violist. The two other violinists were both German Jews. One of them fled to Israel to escape the Holocaust, while the other suffered 3 years in various concentration camps. Unbelievably, he continued to play his violin. While listening to the terrifying stories of how Nazi soldiers treated him and many others, I began to rethink of my position and see how luck really played on my side. I had won the ultimate gamble between living in New York and going to Julliard, or dying in a concentration camp in Germany.

Our quartet has become quite well known now. We have traveled everywhere. We have played in Israel 3 times, in South Africa, Japan, but mostly in Europe. I plan on visiting you and your daughter soon. Though making records here in Cincinnati University in Ohio and teaching younger students keeps me busy, I still have time to travel. I wish to play with your daughter, just as we had together back in London during the black outs. I remember having just enough light to play a Sonata – her on the piano, and me on the violin.

The other day, I saw a girl in Ohio who had come to the university. She had been studying medicine in Switzerland to become a doctor. She had come to Ohio especially because of the river to swim. But when she found out that the river was polluted, there was no way for her to swim the water. I met her through a group of mutual friends. She says that she plans to go back to Israel, but I doubt it. I hope she stays here, and continues her studies in the US. She is a really special person.

Looking back on everything that I have written, the greatest thing that I have learned in my lifetime is the importance of luck. If I had to tell generations to come about the Holocaust, it would be on but one matter – luck. Luck has stuck by my side this whole time. Luck has saved me, has saved my family, and protected us from evil. Without luck, I would probably not be alive today. I carry luck with me. You too, Cousin Tom, have luck for you live in California, far away from the evils that once reined in Europe. Remember, luck changes everything – for good, or for bad. In my story, it is for good.

Yours Truly,
Peter Kamnitzer

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