European Extravaganza

It has been a while since I have had  ….. well, frankly wanted to write anything. Once I returned from Norway, things have not exactly been going as planned.

I can’t even say I am ready to talk about all that has gone on. Lets just say I am still trying to gather all my thoughts.

So, instead, I am just going to talk about my amazing trip through Europe. Starting with my awful debacle in Paris ;/

Europe, Europe, Europe.

You know, I have been pretty darn lucky in the world traveling side of life. As I flip through my passport I found stamps from Brazil, Norway, Sweden, England, Germany, France, Finland, Spain, Scotland, and even Japan.

For someone who did not see Chicago for the first time until she was 18, that’s not a bad record for the last 6 years. I also quickly realized how different it is to travel with a team compared to individually.

Gosh have I been spoiled.

It is a whole different ball game when you’re the one booking your own flights, trying to have one country travel plans coincide with the next, and yes, most importantly, keeping it at a reasonable price (that’s the kicker).

The reason I found myself even considering this European adventure was because of three main reasons:

1)    My Norwegian team didn’t make the finals, so I had a week in a half of time to hangout before I went back state side

2)    I had a pair of amazing friends in Barcelona and Germany that I wanted to see.

3)    RYAN AIR!!!

Folks I am not kidding, I flew from Oslo to Paris to Barcelona to Munich, and back to Oslo for 117 American dollars. Not a typo, trust me my brother even had to call the airline because he did not believe me when I told him the price.

Once I saw that price, I knew it was my duty to travel for all my fellow Americans! Ha

Paris, France – aka the Nightmare

The “City of Lights” or as I call it, “The City of WWWWUUUUUVVVV.” I know what you’re thinking, why in the heck would I want to head there alone?!?

It’s actually pretty simple – the kicker about RyanAir is that they only fly into certain cities. For instance, I couldn’t fly straight from Oslo to Barce. Had to head to either England or France before I could reach there.

After doing some research, I happened to find a family friend that lived in Paris, France it was. Would you turn down the love capital, The Eiffel tower, and some of the best chocolate in the world?!? Exactly!

With only having a week to travel, my timetable in each city was pretty short. i.e. – I was in Paris for a whole 36 hours.

Everything started out perfect. I landed in the morning, found my way to meet my family friend, and even got a quick tour before it was dark. The weather was quite a bit warmer than Norway, which got me excited to see the city the next day.  Being mid-November, I was surprised that it was not absolutely miserable outside. Then again I did just come from Norway where it was literally the Siberian tundra! Ha

Anyways, I crashed pretty early knowing that the next day I had exactly 6 hours to see the “hot” spots of Paris. I could see the Eiffel tower outside my guest window, had a bike raring to go, and the map studied/conquered for a perfect route to get me around the city.

Inception Anyone?!?

Bright and early I am off on my first solo adventure. Money, camera, map, and bike – check, check, and check. The first 7 minutes of my bike ride were splendid. The tower was on the horizon and the cool fall air was delightful……….. Then BAM, flat tire ;/

I could have turned around and headed back up to find a pump at the apartment OR just fill up at the gas station down the block. In the US I do that all the time  – should work here right?!?

BEFORE I CONTINUE, I must tell you that none of this is made up. The timing, stupidity, and stubbornness is 100% me . . . . Unfortunately

I pull into the gas station and start trying to fill my tire. As I push down on the air gage, my tire started to instantly lose air. I tried to pull it off but it was too late, my tire was completely flat. It turns out that this particular bike had a new and improved valve that actually needed a special attachment to fill it correctly.

I immediately go to the gas attendant and ask for some help. I think he understands what I am saying and points in the direction of a red yawning, a bike shop right?!? Nope, it turns out to be an appliance shop that was closed. With time dwindling down and the Eiffel tower a loooooong block away, I figure I can go there, and then look for a bike shop.

4 hours later……

I have not only managed to walk around in a huge circle around the Eiffel tower but it conveniently started to pour rain. Not the nice sprinkle kind, the kind that pierces your body with the sideway sting. Every darn person that I asked for help sent me to either a gas station or an actual bike renting automatic center.

Needless to say, 5 hours passed of me walking around Paris with my handy bike at my side. My dream of seeing this beautiful city was short lived. Hands frozen, body shivering, and frustration in full swing I head back to my friends apartment. The only good news was that I did actually get to climb up the 780 steps of the Eiffel tower – the view was amazing.

one of the many streets i wondered around in Paris

In the end I realize there are many “what ifs” in this story. I mean who would of guessed that there were NO bike shops in Paris? Or that I would let out all the air of my tire and instead of doing the simple thing of heading back to the apartment I decided to try it out for myself.

At least I had the chance to try their famous hot chocolate and a Éclair. My mouth is watering now thinking about how yummay that was! It even ALMOST made the pain in my frozen hands disappear.

as you can see the map and I were not on the same page ha

BARCELONA

 

This might be my favorite place I have visited so far in this vast world. I got to spend 2 ½ days there and was blown away. My good friend/teammate Vero took me all over. We covered the Barce stadium, the Olympic campus, Sagrada’s and Gaudi churches, Vero’s favorite restaurant (OMG yal, the food was so amazing, would fly back just for another taste.), and of course the coast line.

The first day was my favorite. We went to Las Ramblas, the famous street of Barce.  From the numerous street vendors to the amazing street performers, my mind was blown away

Vero and me up at the Olympic training grounds

From my pictures below you can see the Barce number one fan and another street performer. I literally crawled under this man to see how he was staying up and there was nothing there! He must have the strongest arm in the world! I still have no idea how in the heck he pulled that off.

Number 1 fan
what the heck?!?!

After that we went to the famous St. Joseph Mercat. It was so incredible. I mean the market was endless with everything. They had snails, ostrich eggs (which are massive), Negro ham, etc.  I still don’t know what the big deal is with this particular ham, but with the picture you can see it is a good 100 US dollars more expensive, WTH (heck).

notice the difference in prices from the middle two?!
seafood anyone?

I also was lucky enough to get a practice in with her team, Espanyol, that night. They practiced late (9 pm to 11pm) and my first impression was a bit low. The players that I saw first were a bit bigger than most. That, of course, gave me false confidence because I was quickly reminded that they were professionals as well. The things those girls could do with a ball was crazy. Every single one was doing this trick or another. My biggest accomplishment was only getting megged once that night…. Gosh were they good!

Gottingen,Germany

To many of you Chicagoans the name Trent Meacham will mean nothing to you, yet if I said his name in Champaign, people might head into frenzy. He is a good friend of mine that I have known since we played soccer together around 8 years old. He is now an ex Illinois Basketball player and professional player in Germany.

He is one of the best men I know. Talk about a God fearing, humble, and hard working human being. I didn’t think I could meet someone more impressive until I met his wife, Theresa. She is just as incredible as him and supposedly could of made it quite easily in the WBNA, just a beast ha.

Anyways, I had the pleasure of getting close to them over the last couple of years and was happy to make them my last stop of my adventure. After a 45-minute bus ride to downtown Munich and then another 2-hour train ride I arrived in their very quaint and gorgeous new home.

A view from their apartment window

It pretty much was two great days of seeing some family. With being gone for two months, it felt so refreshing to see some familiar faces, and be able to see what their life is all about over seas.

Overall, I could not of asked for a better trip. I got to see some very dear friends and what a day in their life looks like. I’d have to say that my biggest shock was the differences in the culture. For example I came from a country (Norway) where they are up at sunlight and home by sunset, working every minute of the day. To Barcelona where nothing opens until 10, then closes from 1 to 4 for some good old wine drinking/eating, and then reopening until 10 pm. I would definitely say that the Spaniards know how to enjoy life.

With my schedule I can easily find myself having the days run together, especially with pre pre season training. Most of my days consist of a morning workout of running, boxing, or some technical work. Then after lunch I have a harder workout of either lifting or playing. Not sure how it’s possible, but feel like I have no time to myself in these days. Yet, at the same time I would not change it if I could.

I realize that my off season training is built on this philosophy:

Off-season is where the blood, sweat, tears and fears are shown, where the champions are made. Season is the time where you finally get to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Yep, just made that one up. Til next time folks.

 

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OOOOOOooooooopppppsss (From start to end)

– My creepy roommate in the background – lol

Let me tell ya folks, if you EVER start your week off by accidentally (key word) breaking someone’s arm with your shot (soccer):  you should immediately begin to brace yourself for the “interesting” events to follow …

For example, if that was not bad enough, we got our butts absolutely handed to us this weekend. 6 to 1. Yep, 6 to 1 was the score of our game and it was NOT in our favor.

Have you ever experienced a nightmare you can’t wake up from?!? Well this was mine! In the first 35 minutes we were down 5-0. Lets repeat. FIRST 35 minutes, down 5  – 0!!!!!!!!!!! It got so bad, that after the 3rd goal I ran over to our coach, saying we needed to change something/anything. Not sure if it was the language barrier or what, yet nothing changed.

After the 4th goal,  the team got together and decided to change the formation.  I know this sounds incredibly ridiculous, however, something had to be done. From that moment on we held our ground, even put one away.

In my mind we only lost 2-1, not a bad trip after all, right?!? Aghhhhh, still can’t figure it out. I can’t remember ever being in a game, on either side of the coin, where 5 goals were scored in the first 35 minutes. I can say with a 100 % guarantee that I understand what the poor old Haiti and Guatemala team’s felt like after playing US ;/

Builds character right?!?

That, of course, did not help our mood on Saturday (played that morning) night when we were suppose to have our  “Halloween” party.

A little history –

The Norwegians don’t really celebrate Halloween here. So, two years ago, Lindsey (other American I came with) and I decided to show them a bit of what that night would consist of.

Two Years Ago – dressed as bag of Jelly Beans

We had the typical Halloween candy shipped over -Twix, Reese’s, Snickers, Candy Corn (Yuck), etc. We bought the pumpkins, carved them, and baked the seeds. Made the popcorn balls, Carmel apples, buckeyes (my fav), Goodie bars – pretty much a slice of heaven.

All the girls loved it and got really into it. They dressed up and somehow agreed to watch a scary movie. The night was perfect, until our coach Hege Riise (USA Assist. now) decided to sneak up and scare the hibbie jibbies out of us !!! Have to get her back for that one.

Anyways, this year, we decided to do it again. I am proud to say that it was a success, even with the earlier mishap. I baked the Goodie bars, made an apple crisp pie, carved the pumpkin, and baked the seeds.

The rest of the girls brought some treats, dressed up, and we finished the night with another scary movie,  “The Crazies.” With me being a huge whimp in the department, I was not a fan. Yet, it was still a blast to be with everyone and see them taking part in the holiday.

It’s funny, in the US many women enjoy this holiday because it is there excuse to dress up in skimpy clothes and not get a 2nd look (yes I did this too.) But here they actually dress up as actual scary things or creatures ha.

From the picture below you can see the “Evil Nurse”, the Lion thing, Witch, Ghost, and the Nun. What you can’t see on the – oh so scary Nun – is her fish net leggings. lol

Before I end this blog with telling you of my travel plans for next week, I have to tell you about this morning!!

On Monday mornings, I have the pleasure of joining the Norwegian Women’s team with a strength session. Well this am, as we walked into their “Olympic” training facility, we ran smack into the middle of Marit Bjoren’s training session.

Side note: with Norway being such a small country, they have one main gym where all their “Olympic” athletes train. The sports dealing with snow/ice/mountains are obviously some of their specialties. The place we go to lift is comparable to the Colorado Springs Olympic center. Meaning, its incredible and you are constantly surrounded by some of the best athletes in the world.

Neither picture is digitally enhanced in any way, trust me, I saw her less than 12 hours ago! She is considered THE best skier in Norway, and some could contest, at one point, the best in the world!

In layman terms, SHE is a BEAST! I have never really felt small compared to most women, but after watching her teammates  and her train, I have never felt so little.

You guys should have seen the things they were doing. At one point, they were balancing on a BOSU ball (half ball/balancing board) doing one-legged squats holding a 45-pound weight. Was absolutely remarkable the strength that they possessed!

I can’t even begin to comment on the men skiers that were there. Think I had to pick up my jaw at least three times today.

K, I have been at this coffee shop way too long today and its time for me to head home for some dinner. But, like I mentioned above, I have booked some travel for next week.

With us having our last game this weekend and me not flying back to the states til the 16th, I have decide to travel.

At 8 am this Sunday, I will be taking off to Paris. Then after a short visit there, 36 hours to be exact, I will be flying to Barcelona where I will meet up with Vero. I think you all might know her, the studly Spaniard?

I will hang with her til the 11th and then fly to see some good friends in Frankfurt til the 14th. Then I am back to Oslo, and home on the 16th!!! YAY

Am I little bit nervous with traveling alone, YES. Have I done that before, not technically. Yet, I know if I can just make it through Paris, where I have yet to book my night arrangements, I will be allllllll good.

Fingers crossed.

The best part about all of this is that my total airfare ONLY cost me 79 dollars. That’s right, four different countries, 79 bucks = thank you Ryanair!!!

Wish me luck – warning you now, my post next week might be a bit delayed :D

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INTIMIDATION

We had another weekend off.  Minus snowing, it was a low-key week, and very relaxing. Yet, don’t you worry, I always find some way to make a fool of myself –

Telling you folks, I do these things for you. So… pretty much you are welcome (It’s just what I tell myself so I can enjoy these moments that much more) ha

THURSDAY:

Like usual, we had practice in the evening, and our practice attire was our all black kit. Here in Norway, we have three different practice uniforms. Each day, we have a different combination to wear and if we do not get it right, we receive something called a Prikk (a fine)! We also get fined for leaving anything behind or forgetting things to practice (i.e. water bottle)

One attire aka one of dad’s “action shots” ha

This Thursday, my black practice jersey was dirty, and my only option was a Nike dri fit underneath my jacket.  Meaning, I was practicing in pants and a jacket, and my body was covered from neck to toe = SMALTERING! Luckily for me, it was ALSO the hardest practice to date . . . . . . . . NOT

I know the reasonable thing would have been to flip a black shirt inside out, wear a smelly one, or take the fine.  . . . . nope, can’t do it – reasons being:

1)    I take pride in not being fined yet.

2)   One of my biggest pet peeves is having BO. Not saying that it has EVER happened to me. Literally the thought of that smell makes me gag!

3)   I did not think it was going to be such a hard practice. Should of figured with us having the weekend off… ooooops

At one point I literally had steam coming from my head. The girls later informed me that they were actually contemplating throwing some water on me. Gosh am I happy they did not. Walking in 20 degrees weather with your hair wet is NOT fun.

After an eternity, practice was finished, and I ripped (exaggeration, like usual) off my jacket.

Side Note: My dri fit was actually a cut off AND contrary to belief, cut offs are actually made specifically for women playing soccer in foreign countries! It’s like an written rule, ya know. Like washing your hands after you go the bathroom ;p

Come on, when else am I going to wear it?!? Needless to say, all the girls started laughing and making fun as I cooled down.

Tool bagish, maybe……… necessary, ABSOLUTELY

FRIDAY:

Have any of you heard about Zumba (Click below for an idea)?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-myAVlxWBGs&feature=related

With us having the weekend off, one of my teammates and I thought it would be the perfect chance to try it.

We had to get there a half n hour early, other wise we wouldn’t have gotten a spot, which put us in perfect time for the 30 minutes abs class aka the class of immense pain!!!

As we walk in, we think that we will fly through both workouts; man were we wrong. The abs were some of the hardest things I have done in my life (Red Stars – it was even harder than our Blood, Sweat, Tears, and Fears workout. Not kidding).

I still do not know what was more embarrassing, getting shown up by a handful of 50 plus year old women with the abs or the next hour of Zumba ;/

Before I admit what happened in the following dreadful hour, you have to remember they speak a DIFFERENT language here!

The class begins (takes me about 10 minutes to be able to stand up straight from the abs) and I am slowly finding my grooooooove. The steps are pretty easy and I can follow the teacher by just watching her. I am feeling the beat, you know, nodding my head, bouncing the shoulders, maybe a couple kicks here an there.

Yet, two songs in we start to pick up the pace. We literally went from Frank Sinatra speed to Shakira. I was so bad! By the time I got one dance move down, la maestra (teacher) was already onto the next. What the heck!!

For example:

Just as I begin to master the side-to-side shuffle/spin step, the instructor would say something. I think she is saying, “good job” or “move your hands/feet one-way.” However, of course, she is giving them directions to change in one or two side shuffles. There I am, trying to stay in sync and as I side shuffle right, everyone immediately comes left, and I ultimately end up running into the 3 elderly women around me. Every time I managed to hit all three women besides me, still not sure how I did it.

I not only stuck out for repeatedly disturbing the routines of the dances but also because my teammate and I were a good 30 years younger than everyone else.

I am still laughing at some of the expressions and eye rolling I received from the 60 older women. I mean holy cow, seriously?!?! I got served….

Good news: This Friday is a new day!!! Ha

My buddies

SUNDAY:

“I use these for acid indigestion” Jake

“So what are we gonna use these for?!?”  Teammate

“INTIMIDATION” Jake

Everyone has to remember this part of Little Giants. It takes place moments before they are about to take on the Cowboys, the best team in the league.

Well that scene is exactly how I felt this Sunday.

I don’t know how I exactly ended up in a room with 2o of the best grown, grown men club coaches in the area, yet there I was.  Sunday morning, 8 am, trying to smush myself into the back corner so they would not eat me alive (dramatization, duh) ha

Okay, I do remember agreeing to help out one of the Academy coach’s with identifying some “local” talent, but that’s it. I did not understand that I was about to get taught a lesson on just how important soccer is here.

Like I mentioned above, I not only found myself in the room with 20 of the best coaches/scouts around Lillestrom but was the only girl and significantly younger. To make matters worse, I even raised my hand at one point because I thought the main guy was introducing me. He was really just saying that I was going to walking around scouting. Lets just say, I was happy that I did not understand Norwegian that day.

For the next two hours I sat on top of freezing cold bleachers writing down who I thought the best 12-year boy soccer players were. I proceeded to find out that this is something that only happens once a year. That the “good ones” would get called into the different professional team academies and literally change their life!

12 years old, seriously?!? When I was 12 I was still learning how to put my hair in other ways than a ponytail. Granted, I did not know how to put my hair up until I was 11 and another two years after that to figure out I did NOT have to violently flip my whole upper body upside down to do it ha.

No wonder, the Norwegians and every other foreign country is a step ahead of us with footy. Just look at the Academy boys. As soon as they get noticed, they are moved to a special “athletic” high school where there practice time is schedule into their class schedule.

To think a practice or going to the gym could be in a high school curriculum?!? So cool ha, I know, I can only dream. Can you imagine how good we would be at different sports if that were the case for us?

Mind baffling huh?!  That’s not even mentioning that their best athletes are soccer players. Imagine if we had the Hester’s as forwards or  wingers? Or better yet, the Urlacher’s as a center backs? Think about the possibilities of our World Cup outcome! My bet is that we would have gotten that last bit of luck to move onto the next round.

Summary:

Anyone want to send me some indigestion tablets?!? Think  I am signed up to do the same thing this weekend. (Gulp)

Have a great week folks, HAPPY HALLOWEEN from all of the Masar’s. Especially the cutest darn Monkey in the world!!! :D

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Lights, Camera, Action.

LIGHTS:

Last Friday was a cold and damp day here in Norway. A lovely 38 degrees to be exact. My dad and I had just returned from having an interesting workout in the hall. (See below)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNcrWbsYSUc

I don’t think I have laughed so hard in a long time – bless his heart, he was trying so hard.

Anyways, after he got done showing me where I got my skills from, ha. We headed back to my place. As we walked inside, I tried to turn on the lights, and nothing happened.

At first we thought a fuse had blown, yet after switching them on and off, we realized we had no power. For the next 10 hours …. we continued to have no power. Even after we went to practice and came home around 8, when it drops to easily below 0, we had ….. No power!

The fact that Dad and I went shopping earlier in the day for the ingredients to my favorite dinner dish, Gorgonzola spaghetti, did not help the situation. Can I also add that the next day we were playing the best team in our league!!!

To say the steam was coming from my ears is an understatement.  Thankfully one of my friends lives close and we were invited to go cook there. The power finally came back on around 11pm and let me tell ya, a warm shower never felt so goooooooooood.

CAMERA:

The 2nd night of my father’s visit, we decided to head bowling with one of my roommates (Mari) and her two little nephews.

Don’t let the picture fool you! The kids might seem small but professional bowlers they are.

All I can say is that we got officially hustled….

Warning signs #1 (I should really start to pay attention to these). As we head to pick up Mari’s nephews – she comes up with the great idea; we should play for a Flax card.

Flax Card– A lottery card where you scratch off different areas of it to see if you can win amounts ranging from 25 to 1,000,000 kroner. If you ever want to see a Norwegian get serious about a game, just play for this card.

For example:

Once a week, we play for one of these cards. The nice/sweet Norwegians instantly turn into a blood bath sucking creatures, no exaggeration. They do whatever it takes to win.  That includes ripping a pair of my shorts last week in practice!

Side note: Have I ever won scratching off this card?!? Absolutely not!!!

Warning sign #2 – After further discussion, Mari convinced us that the winner should get a flax card from not one, but both of the people below them. (warning, warning, warning). Of course, I thought this was a great idea. I have never seen my dad bowl, but I mean he is 60; he has to have some experience ……  ha good thought.

Yep, Me 72, Dad 69. We not only got last but lost to a 6 and 9-year-old! I know the evidence seems over powering on portraying how bad of a bowler I am. Yet, I give you my word I have NEVER bowled two gutter balls in a row!

I am by no means a professional, but I do average a solid 110 or so. No way in heck a 72! And come on dad, a 69. Least I know I was not the worst ha

Still laughing at this one.

ACTION:

Opera Huset (Opera House) -

Akershus Festing (Old fortress) -

Frognerparken (Famous Statue Park) -

Holmekollen (Huge Ski Jump aka Norwegians are nuts):

National gallery museum (welcome mom), kings castle  – you name it, we saw it.

The time with him was amazing. Like I mentioned in my last post, I do not remember the time it was just the two of us. You could even say I was a bit nervous. Yet, it went better than I ever expected. I could even say perfect if we would have won our game. . .

I do not remember the last time I cried after a game.

As a competitor it always hurts to lose, especially when you feel you should have put some chances away. Unfortunately, that is something that I have experienced in the last two years. Don’t get me wrong, it is never fun to lose, but usually tears do not follow.

I have to be honest and say, that after netting some goals for Chicago, I was ready for more success to follow. I imagined coming here, killing it, and going home to get called back into National team camp. I was going to do so well here that Pia would not have a choice (positive thinking right) but to call me in.

Lofty hopes, maybe.  However, when you play thirty minutes away from the USWNT assistant coach (Hege Riise) hometown, you know if you do well she will hear about it.

Turns out I was right! Hege was coming to our game on Saturday. Not necessarily because I was doing well, but with her coaching this team two years ago, she still comes to support them when she is here.

I had been playing well the last couple of weeks and felt like I had done everything I could to be prepared for this game. I always knew with coming here, there was a good chance she would be at one of our games. The extra workouts, training with the boys, and watching footy every chance I could, made me ready for this moment.

That does not even include the fact that my number one supporter (my dad) had flown across the world to watch me play! The stage was set and all I needed to do was show up. I needed to show up and prove that I am a goal scorer. That I can contribute to any team that I am on and I had not stopped fighting to wear the US jersey again.

It’s still hard to say what went wrong. Whether it was the fact that we came out in a 4-5-1 (a defending formation) or if they really were that much better, I am not sure. After they scored late in the 1st half, we just could not find our rhythm again.

I needed to play to change a coach’s mind: I didn’t.

I admit I probably put pressure on myself when it was not needed. However, when you want something so much, when you know you have done everything in your power – you feel it should all fall into place.

Wish life was that easy . . .

So as I walked out of the locker room, saw my dad standing there smiling, and looking like the most proud father in the world: I lost it.

The feeling of letting him and myself down was overwhelming. I know I could never do that with him, however, that feeling was suffocating. As soon as my head hit his chest, I could not stop the tears.

They always say you need a good cry every once in a while, right. Ha

For the last week I got caught up in the things I could not control. I wanted to impress so much that I lost sight, once again, the joy of playing this beautiful sport. I focused on what I couldn’t control instead of what I could. In the end, I know I do not do the “extra” work to be able to put the US jersey back on.

I do it because it’s what my family taught me. I do it because it’s the player I want to be remembered as. Everything I am, everything I achieve is because I put in the blood, sweat, and tears to attain it. When my career is over, I want to know I did everything in my power to make it, and that I never wasted an opportunity.

I just have to keep reminding myself of the truth; that God is control.  He has already blessed me in ways I could never imagine. I am so thankful for everything, however, until he tells me to walk away, I will continue to glorify him with all my strength and try to make my family proud.

The rest is in his hands; all I can do is trust…

Isaiah 40:29-31 “ He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint ”

 

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Mount Everest…

This picture pretty much sums up my week. Don’t worry (Grams) my leg is fine. Klepp’s (team we played on Saturday) center back just wanted to officially welcome me to Norway, ha. The good news is that we won 2-1 and I had the game winner. Bad news, I do not think I have played a worse game in two years, aghhh, thank heavens I scored! Not kidding

That is actually one of the bonuses and downfalls of being a striker. I mean, in what other sport can you have an absolute nightmare of a game and then it’s forgotten with a moment of brilliance?! However, on the other side, if you have too many games without the golden boot, you can easily find yourself on the bench keeping your coach nice and warm.

Any hoo, I wish I could pinpoint a reason why this week has been such a struggle. The only thing I could think of was that this was my “hump week.” I have now been here for four weeks, which I know is nothing, but lets face it – I am not exactly a season veteran with being away from home.

I mean come on guys, I went to the University in my hometown, and play pro two hours north. lol I will defend myself with stating, it was not my primero eleccion (choice) to stay home for all those years.  I can still remember collecting all my high school VHS tapes and sitting in front of my TV trying to make a highlight reel. Gosh, did I think I was the best thaaaanng since sliced bread. Yep, said it…. and I am also admitting that I only sent my tapes to all the big dogs  – Portland, UCLA, San Diego, Penn State (I know, my bad), etc.

You know how many I heard back from?!? A big fat zero, zilch … ha

After many years of bitterness (exaggeration) I have realized this was the best thing that could have happened to me. Thank heavens for good old Saint Jan (Janet Rayfield) and THE Marcia McD (GM) taking a chance on me! Lord knows where I would be today if those two did not get their hands on me.  Tusen Takk. Tusen takk. Tusen Takk.

Don’t get me wrong; the girls have been amazing here. They have all gone out of their way to make me feel comfortable and a part of the team. When you only have practice so many hours of the day, you’re at a clear disadvantage ha. Also, it does not help that I grew up in a family of 3. “Me” time has simply never been a priority or specialty of mine.

Can’t even really believe I am complaining right now. Hopefully you just skimmed over that. Ha On the positive side in less than 48 hours my dad is getting on a plane to come visit me! Mark your calendar, stop the clocks, pinch yourself to make it real – the old man is coming to Oslo!!!!

When I say a couple of days, I literally mean 4 days ha. His flight back to the states leaves at the staggering hour of 6 in the morning on Sunday. Makes me shiver thinking about having to get up at 3 am to take him back to the airport. Oh well, even with the early wake up, I am still so excited for him to come and see this part of my life. He has always been such a huge supporter of me and it will be good for us to hang out for a bit. I don’t remember the last time it was just Dad and I.

Again, don’t you worry; the funny stories and pictures will be coming in ten folds. With him turning 60 last year, the fam decided to buy him a nice camera for his b-day – what a mistake! We all know how dad’s can be with being proud fathers and capturing “all” the great moments, right!?!

Well my father is THAT man on steroids. He has gotten so bad that he doesn’t even look through the camera anymore; he just puts his finger on the button, and takes it from his chest. He calls it the “action shots” ha, oh Pop. . .

So wish us luck. Hopefully Wednesday we won’t get too lost in downtown Oslo with all of our sight-seeing.

We also take on the number one team, Stabek, this weekend. We should almost sell out our stadium, which will be cool for him to experience. If he had the choice he would eat, breathe, and live footy.

Enjoying my roommate’s brother’s studly, national team keeper, professional soccer game!

Funny story:

With our game being an hour plane ride away this Saturday, we did not get home til pretty late. This was also the night we were having a “reunion” with two of my teammates from my first time here.

Literally, as soon as we got off the plane we were on the jog to change and meet everyone at one of the girl’s (Hege) apartments. The reason I am informing you of this minuet detail is because through this “rushing” process we forgot to plan how I was going to get home later that night.

At times, with not having a car here, getting from point A to point B can be a bit of a hindrance  (i.e. TUNNEL incident). Anyways, we were so pressed with time that we simply did not think about it. So as 3 rolled around, yes 3 am, we were in a little bit of a pickle.

Now, I am of age, however I did not drink that night. Regardless, that did not help out one bit with finding a way home. I could of course stayed there, yet Hege has a beautiful 14-month-old son that you cannot push snooze on after 6 am. Hmmmmm,  no thank you ha

Two choices:

1)    Call for a cab

2) Ride Hege’s bike home.

I know this seems like a pretty easy decision for most of you, but when the cab costs 250 kroner aka 80 dollars for 2 miles – I think this changes your decision!!! Just so we are clear on the math, that averages out to about 20 dollars for every half-mile!

Biking it was! The only itsy bitsy issue was that the shortest way home was cutting through the darkest, scariest woods you can imagine, and relying on a slightly inebriated young woman’s directions for the rest of the way.

Even though my legs were burning (remember we had a game only a couple of hours earlier) I have NEVER rode a bike so fast. Whether it was my own imagination or something watching me, Lance Armstrong would have had some competition! You can’t even begin to imagine the scary movie scenes that were running through my head!

That’s not even the best part, after I finally made it through Jason’s home territory (swear I saw a glimpse of his mask, definitely screamed at one point.) I found myself on top of Mount Everest. You literally could look out, see ALL of Norway, and touch the stars.

Okay, maybe not touch them, but it was breath taking nonetheless. I than proceeded to gleefully shout like a little schoolgirl, thrust my feet off the pedals, and fly down the mountain. Lance Armstrong meet Evil Kenvial.

To summarize – I am 110% happy with my decision of biking even if it entailed a near death experience with Jason and descending down Mt. Everest.

My question to you:

What did you accomplish Saturday night ?!?! :D

Start the blog with beauty,  gotta end it with the same – not a bad pict huh, taken by yours truly :D

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Videos…

No matter how badly you want to explain something, sometimes words are not enough.

So this week I have decide to share three videos with you. I unfortunately could not get them to load to my blog but if you click on each link below – you can go straight to Youtube to watch them – don’t worry they are short and sweet.

1) This is the “inside” view of our training facility. With it being in the 30s and raining almost everyday – being inside is a massive plus. It doesn’t hurt either that I have the key and can go in whenever I want. Heaven?!? :D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiNUUhp9Mu4

2) When I came over here two years ago, I had the privilege of taking Norwegian lessons with one of the girl’s father on the team…. Yet, two years later, I still suffer from the same issues; the Norwegians darn extra 3 letters …. agghhhh The name we are trying to say is spelled Lene (e is pronounced like an a) and is, of course, the father’s daughter. If you literally DO NOT want to pull your hair out by the end of it – I am not sure what’s wrong with you ha Makes me frustrated even watching it …

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VziTvkdcJfE

As you can see from above, I am OBVIOUSLY saying it right!  Norwegians just need their hearing checked…

3) With us playing Tuesday against Roa, unfortunately lost 2-1 – I scored but not was not enough, we had this weekend off. So on Friday I got invited,  by one of my old teammates, to  join her for gym for a “friendly” competition.

Suppose to be posing

Somehow that turned into a 40 minute fitness/dance routine (kind of like Zumba) and a series of physical draining “events.” What I thought was going to be a leisurely workout, turned into me sprinting on a treadmill for FOUR minutes, caring 45 pound plates through an obstacle course, rowing with my team for 8 minutes, doing as many dips as possible, and finishing with long jump.

No likey!!!

I am still sore from the dips and still shaking my head to how I even got myself into that mess.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nKQxslVHZU

AND to my defense on my lack of dancing, I did NOT know she was filming – was just getting warmed up ya dig. . .  ha

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Let the Baking Begin…

“Sometimes we strive so hard for perfection that we forget that imperfection is happiness.”

What a great quote for cooking!!! You might laugh but it’s the only thing allowing me to mention my disastrous banana bread attempt this week.

I could try and blame it on the fact that the recipe called for ingredients only in Norwegian. However, when you see sugger on a package, it’s pretty easy to understand what it means :/

I keep telling myself it was because I mixed up the ingredients but it was a simple miss calculation… agghhh I don’t even want to say what I did….

Wait for it…..

Take in the picture of me actually doing it right with my 2nd attempt!!! Yum yum yum

Seriously – the 2nd time was delicious and I even put in some chocolate chips

Wait….

Don’t Judge…

Wait….

K –  blllaaahhh – I put in 4 tsp of baking soda instead of 1

My defense:

We do not have any type of measuring utensils and I figured a spoon full would be about right. So I added the ¼ tsp of salt, one spoonful (first mistake). Than I somehow assumed that when it asked for 1 tsp of baking soda, 4 spoonfuls would equal that. Yes my math was in fine shape but my portions were skewed.

The batter tasted delicious, yet as I tasted it after it was baked I had an instant gag reflex. Of course, I thought it was a bad bite. Nope, did it again and gagged again. Unfortunately my roommates had worse reactions with literally almost puking it back up. OOOOPPPS

Yal it was so bad that I left one outside for the raccoons, squirrels, and birds to eat it – three days later, still there ….

REMEMBER: “Sometimes we strive so hard for perfection that we forget that imperfection is happiness.”

2nd time is a charm after they made me eat it before them to show I did not gag ha

Anyways – with having quite a bit of down time here (practice once a day in the evening) I have set out some time to complete weekly activities – they go as followed:

(Mar and Pinoe – don’t worry wall ball is of course included just not to public ha

1) Cooking/baking at least three times a week: (this week)

-    Banana bread (twice)

-    Made spring rolls from scratch – turned out really well, even made peanut sauce from nada – you should try it ;

  • Just need peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar or sugger and mess              around w/ it until you find a good consistency for you.

2) Piano/Guitar playing:

-  I have been playing the piano since I was young and brought over my song book of 1990 Love Songs (duh) – Mariah Carey/Boys II Men – amazing!!!

- The only downside of playing the piano is that you can’t easily travel with it. So, I found a teacher and meet with him once a week for Guitar lessons. “Free Falling”and “You Look Wonderful Tonight” are on them chopping block for week one.

I usually don’t like to make fun of myself, but honestly, if my fingers were only that much bigger ha – G to C is NOT fun and that’s not even adding in the F or B cord ;/

3) Spanish/Reading –

-    An hour a day at least. Whether that is half hour of Spanish/half hour of good old Bible reading – it’s a must

Anyone want to skype in Spanish?!?! :)  Not the easiest thing to find a Spanish speaking native in Norge.  Ha

That is pretty much the basics of my first two weeks here. That, of course, is my non-related soccer activities.

As I mentioned above, practice is only in the evening.  The reason for that is because all the girls either have work or are attending school. One of the best things about Norway, well to me, is that the schooling is free and on a much quicker track. They are done with high school when they are 16, in college for two years, and than done with their “specialty” by 22/23.

For instance, two of my teammates are already licensed Physical Therapists at 23. They finished studying when they were 22 and than just have to completed their one-year internship. That’s pretty crazy to think about when the US is thousands and thousands of dollars plus a good 7 years of school.

I also started training with the U18 boy’s Academy team on Tues/Thurs morning.  Academy just means they are with part of the youth program of the men’s professional club here in Lillestrom. They’re pretty amazing. The worst part about training with any boy or men’s team is getting past the first look. You can ask any women’s soccer player that goes plays with boys. The first practice is always the hardest because their immediate approach to you is that you are a joke. This is the most insulting thing you can portray to a women’s athlete, especially a women’ that plays for a living (MEN, re-read, re-read, re-read)! However on the positive side, it makes it that much sweeter when you meg one or knock them on their hinny.

To sum it up – I megged one, knocked one down, and did a little jig after … ha  j/k

Bring on Tuesday boys, BRING it ON.

Funny Story:

Living in Lincoln Park has been incredible this year. I would definitely say it is my favorite part of Chicago. The only downfall was my apartment. The space itself was amazing but we only had one bathroom on the first floor and my bedroom was on the 2nd.

One of the worst things in the world is having to get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom knowing you have to walk down and back up stairs.  Especially when you still have a good two or three hours of sleep left.

It is also the reason I was so excited to come to Norway. Two months of no stairs to use the bathroom. …………….. NOT

I do NOT only  have a bathroom on my floor, but it is down in one of the scariest stairways and basements I have EVER seen.  I am convinced Freddy Cougar is staying in one of the rooms. I am not kidding – I literally will not go down the stairs unless I have a broom in one hand and ultra bug killing spray in the other (i.e. Windex)!!!

My first night there, I,  of course had to use the restroom in the middle of the night. As I turned on the light to walk through the hallway I saw one of the biggest spider of my life! It was so big that there was no way I could walk around it to use (see pict below) the darn bathroom.

I have not screamed so loud since I watched Scream in middle school. It proceeded to wake up my roommates who came rushing down because they thought someone broke in – still feel bad for that one. Ha

Oh and we won our game on Saturday. The team was not very good, 4-0. I notched a goal but should have had a couple more. Tomorrow is the real test with our semis in the Cup Final.

Tom at 8 am, 3 pm our time everyone say a couple of prayers – we will be taking on Roa for all the marbles.

Ha det bra

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