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

Nose Goes :D

I realized that, as I am about to update you on my first week here that I have yet to mention my “new and improved” nose.

Scene of crime…. (Amazing picture James!!!)

The last thing I remember is looking up and seeing Casey whip the cross in. I say whipping because if any of you have seen that young lady hit a ball, you have to know that unless you’re prepared to feel some kind of pain you should never be at the end it. I mean the kid hits the ball harder than many men I know!

Whether it was the ball or an elbow that hit my nose, I still cannot recall. All I know is that I heard a snap and then woke up to Chappy standing over me making a joke that I had scored ha. With breaking my nose two times before and experiencing immediate difficulty breathing out of my right nostril – I knew things did not look good.

Sure enough, two weeks later I was laying on the surgery bed mumbling to the Doc how I loved the fact she was listening to “What you Know” by T.I. as she was preparing to fix my nose. Ha

Minus the first two days, everything went smoothly. The doc kept telling me over and over that I would have an immense amount of pressure/pain in my head for the first 48 hours. However, being the stubborn athlete and veteran of the nose operation, I thought the pain would be dismal.

Gosh was I wrong!!! She failed to mention that I would have three 2-inch plastic rods in my nose! I still have no idea where she even “fit” them in my nose and if the pressure in my head was worse or her pulling them out ;/ I’ll just let yal picture that for yourself. . . agghhhh

I do have to admit that the worst part of the whole procedure was having to sit out the last two games. Yet, I cannot help and think I should of missed a bit more with us finally getting the two W’s in a row, thanks a lot team J  kidding. The girls looked amazing and we got the result against two teams we had struggled with all season, finished on a positive note.

I just wish that would of carried over to Norway.  . .

All season long we (Chicago) have not felt that we have had “luck” on our side.  A perfect example is our last Bay Area match. The number one team comes into our stadium. They score quickly, we respond. They score again, we answer. Than with ten minutes left they get a pk on an accidental handball?!? Come on duuuuuuddddddeeeeee (my mature expression) – seriously!?!?

With my first game in Norway, I found myself experiencing the same NON “luck” as before. We were up 2-0 with 15 minutes left. Then in a mere matter of minutes, 3 of our starters get hurt and had to be subbed out. Than in the 87th min, they get a free kick right outside our box, scored, and then scored again in 92nd minute. Usually a tie is better than a loss. Yet when you dominate a team and give up two bad goals, it can easily feel as gut wrenching as a big fat L.

Overall I thought we played well. We were missing our starting goalkeeper and another key forward but I still thought we out played them on every part of the pitch. I definitely should have put one or two away but feel I did okay with notching the two assists. I have the honor of wearing the number 9 here. I say honor because before I was 3, I actually wore 9. No not for Mia Hamm but for my brother (won’t admit this to him) who I always felt a sense of pride with wearing the same number. Almost if I had an extra spark or edge on the opponents because I felt as if he was there helping me.

Picture from up north in Tromso where we played on Saturday. For two years I believed the girls that there was actually polar bears walking around the town!!! Not true!

Our next game is Saturday with our Semi Cup Final game following on Tuesday (Sept. 28th.) The Cup Final is what the girls play for over here. Yes you want to finish first or second in the league to qualify for Euro Championships (where top two teams of every league in Europe play each other to try to become best in Europe). However, if you do not make it into that – Cup Final is where you want to end up.

The best way to explain is like the NCAA tournament. All the teams in the 1st division women’s league are drawn from a hat and begin a round robin tournament. If you lose you are out, obviously, but the winners of both sides get to play in the championship where 6 to 8 thousand people, plus the king come. After the game you get to shake the Kings hand and have a huge party at a hotel in downtown Oslo! Bottom line, its pretty cool and this year we play Roa in the semi’s which is the team we lost to in the Cup Finale the last time I was here – motivation check!!!

Before I head to practice, a funny story as promised at the end of all my blogs

– Scooter and Infamous Tunnel – 2008

I cannot believe I am about to admit this to the America public but I have had some absolutely shocking times here in Norway.  Two of my most “brilliant” memories are from my first time here in 08 – don’t worry folks, I am sure they will be trumped in the weeks to come – everyone start praying now for that NOT to happen ha –

ONE –

Lindsey (one of my best friends, goalie at Illinois, and came here with me in 08) and I were about a week into our stay and we decided we needed to go to the store. The store was up on a huge hill and about 2 miles away, so we decide to take our coach’s scooter (she gave us permission).

3 huge warning signs to abort, abort, about our mission for food:

1) Only ONE helmet – with there being two of us, we thought if one of us had sun glasses and the other the helmet, we would be fine. That’s the law in the states right!?!? WRONG

– Law of Norway – to operate motor vehicle you must have a helmet

2) Took us a half hour to figure out how to even start the darn thing

3) Realized as we went up the hill the scooter only gets up to about 30 mph when traffic goes 45 to 50. However we thought we were smart because there was a smaller road next to the big road, i.e. the sidewalk ;/ To my defense this particular sidewalk was twice the size of any American one!

To make a long story short, we not only almost ran into a wall with our lack of knowledge on how to work it and got pulled over for driving on ….. Yes, you guessed it – the sidewalk. Ooooops

We luckily got out of the ticket with our foreigner’s speech and dropping our coach’s name who is a LEGEND here. The run home because we only had one helmet was not too much fun.

TWO –

Again, three things you must understand BEFORE you watch the clip below.

1) It had been a very, very long day. I was coming from physical therapy and only had a certain amount of time to get my workout in before practice. The gym is on the other side of this tunnel and the only other way to get there is to go up the MASSIVE hill. Still convinced it would have taken me twice the time!!!

2) I thought the sidewalks where again TWICE the size as the sorry excuse of cement inside the tunnel and I did NOT know it was a highway ;/

3) This is the “reenactment” of my first time through. The cops did not come the first time yet the 2nd time, I did not get so lucky. I literally had no idea they closed the tunnel to come “help” me – apologize for my two word mishaps. Was scared out of my mind – for the 2nd time in a row!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rQ7BhvM0OU

ENJOY – til next week –

Thats a wrap…

Above – two of the best players in the world, enjoying some time outside the soccer kit –

Records:

– More wins than 2009

– Two wins in a row (ouch but a STEP)

– Me FINALLY scoring (slap hand)

To name a few . . .

They seem minimal to some, monumental to us.

It’s been two grinding years for us in Chicago. The frustrations have been apparent from everyone in the organization. From the owners to the equipment managers, the pressure has felt overwhelming at times.

Yet, we stood our ground. I have learned many lessons through the last two years. One of those realizations is how trivial the 22 (maybe more like 18, after all our injuries ha) roster really is.  Maybe that is a bit harsh, however, when you look at the larger scheme of things – it’s the truth.

We might be the ones that it comes down to but we are replaceable. Do not take this in a bad way; it’s just the way the business runs. I mean this year alone I have had three different #5’s sit next to me. That does not even begin to talk about our 10 plus roster changes throughout the season and coaching staff.

Needless to say, it is not personal, but it proves that the pressure affects us all. I actually think we have one of the easiest jobs in the organization. The workload that the staff has to accomplish daily is extraordinary.  This goes from the hours they put in – to the numerous different jobs they all possess.

All we have to do is show up and play the thing we love. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard how lucky I am.  This last weekend alone, as I headed home to say goodbye to my family and watch my brother play in his alumni game,  I had every single one of his teammates tell me how they wish they were in my position. Granted these are men who greatly still love the game and have to work behind a desk all day.

It just puts things into perspective on how blessed I am. To think there were days it was hard for me to get amped up for practice when I could be heading to sit at a desk all day seems ridiculous.

Bottom line, I am so thankful for the Chicago Red Star organization. They work so incredibly hard for me to be able to fulfill my dream with the place I hold closest to my heart; Illinois. Without their constant sacrifice and dedication, we would simply not be around.

The records were broken, the roster was turned/flipped upside down, and the excitement for next year is in the air. Yes, even over here in beautiful Norway.

We ended the season on a high and will carry that with us throughout these next 5 months. We all made a promise a long time ago that we would make Chicago a winning establishment and we do not plan on stopping now.

We have the best fans in the world, an organization that has and will stand behind us through everything, and a dream to change history in the women’s game.

Before I sign off and head to get some lunch, since its about 330 pm here. I wanted to let you all know that my GOAL is to update my blog at least once a week. Already in a day in a half, I have plenty of material and some interesting (questionable, funny) stories for next weeks, so stay tuned!!! Woop woop

oh yeah and one more thing  –

Kate Markgraf:

As I ran on the field to celebrate our 2nd win in a row against Washington Freedom, I could not help and feel a bit of sorrow.  Kate Markgraf has “said” this will be her last game. I refuse to say retire because I know that WE all hope she will come back for one more year!!! (yes that is for you to ponder, read over and over Kate 😉

I have gotten the privilege to play with many great players, yet Kate is among the top. She is far more than a USA veteran. Her work ethic is matched with a fiery and competitive spirit. To think she has three kids – two of those being 15 month old twins – and still kicked all of our butts in fitness, is incredible. The sacrifices she made to be a part of this team are evident and will forever be remembered.

Kate, if you are reading this, thank you. Thank you for putting your life on hold to make this program better. You taught me that the decisions we make are not always easy. That, when times get hard you always have a choice. When your back is against the wall you can either give up or find a way to begin to move your foot for that next step. And last but not least, that when you make a mistake, the hardest part is admitting when you’re wrong and finding a way to make it right…

I would also like to say that you tried to teach me your impeccable running form, however I do not think Michael Johnson even had that chin to pocket.

Best of luck ….