Thursday, March 22, 2012

Be our guests!

This month we were fortunate enough to have visitors all the way from the US of A.  The two CJs boarded their plane in PDX and after 4 connections and a full day of travel, they touched down in Gdansk for 2 weeks of European living with the Kueblers.

I can't even begin to tell you how amazing it felt to hug my sister for the first time in months.  

I'm not sure why, but I can't quite put our travel experiences into words.  Our schedule looked like this...

- 3 days in Poland (including 1 home game and some sight-seeing in Gdansk and Sopot)

- 3 days in Prague (my girlfriends from last season were able to meet us there for the first night - amazingly fun times; Michael couldn't make the trip - they unfortunately had an away game in Russia)

- 2 days in Berlin (just the CJs)

- 4 days in Poland (more sight-seeing, another home game, our very first Euro soccer game, birthday celebrations)

Expect some good stories and more candid photos in the near future.  For now, enjoy a few snap-shots of our travels.

Arrrr!  Drinks on a pirate ship. 

At one point we thought we had set sail. 

Day 2 of sister love.  I swear, I could have taken a thousand pictures. 

Polish Mexican food is questionable. 

I believe this was one of Michael's "nap-ternoons".  Lunch at a decent burger joint in Gdansk. 

Mind the gap in Prague with my OR and ZGO crew. 

We had just watched the video and made donations the previous night. 

I believe this is me being proud of my crew - and a bit tipsy perhaps. 

Prague-nosis?  The Pfaus do well in CZ. 

Lunch at a really cool cafe next to the giant clock tower. 

Rainy day Oregon shot but I swear it was 65 degrees. 

Cool shot.  Sub par text. 

Prague at dusk from a neighboring hillside. 

Took the tram up to the highest peak for the ultimate view. 

Lobby shot at Miss Sophie's - highly recommend this place to anyone visiting Prague. 

Portland artists representing across the globe, baby! 

A fantastic home game win - the second in the CJs two week stay. 

Riding dirty in the mini-van we bummed for their visit. 

Last day - weather couldn't have been better.  Warm enough for a picnic on the beach. 

Just your usual "dude piss" in the middle of a crowded beach. 

CJ post "polar bear swim".  Didn't so much a shiver in the following hour. 

Good ol' fashion sister playground fun.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How many baths is too many baths??

I have a new addiction.  Baths.  It's funny, because a month ago Michael would have pinned me as a person who doesn't bathe frequently enough.  Ladies, I know you feel me on this - some days I just can't be bothered to go through the whole process - I mean, hair drying included, you're looking at a minimum of 30 minutes.  Who has that kind of time?  Oh wait, I do.

Previous hygiene issues aside, I have fallen into the habit of running a scolding hot bath each night around 7 pm.  Michael is typically away at his evening practice, so the Slingbox is all mine.  I cue up an episode of something Bravo-ey or tune into one of Adam Carolla's latest podcasts and spend a solid hour soaking in our decent sized tub.

Where can I find Aziz's jacuzzi truck?

Perhaps the reason I haven't enjoyed baths as much in the past is because I simply haven't had the time.  Maybe it's because I haven't had regular access to a bathtub that when filled to capacity, covers more than my ankles and butt-cheeks.  I remember trying to enjoy baths in college, but if there was ever a time when spare minutes in the day were few and fare between, it was then.  If taking a bath was at the bottom of my list of things to accomplish, cleaning the bathroom was just beneath it.  Something about staring at a space-like shower curtain decorated with mildew constellations, doesn't scream relaxation.

Eeeeewwwww!  But looks familiar, don't it?

My question now is can I potentially overdo it in the bathtub?  I know you are only supposed to give babies baths every other day (or did I make that up?).  How many baths per week are too many baths per week?  Will I ever stand and bathe again?  Will I eventually buy out Tesco of all their dirt cheap bath salts and have to resort to making shampoo bubbles?  As Michael puts it, baths are merely prolonged showers in your own filth.  Will I ever get truly clean again?  Is my obsession becoming borderline Stefanie Tanner-ish and will I eventually propose to sleep in the tub?

Remember this awesome episode?

Jokes aside, I'm loving my new evening ritual.  The glass of red that sits on the ledge of the tub isn't half bad either.

Where you'll find me, circa 7 hours from now.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Would you rather?

So I kind of hate to admit it, but I have a reputation for being the instigator of some gnarly games of "Would you rather?".  I've been known to gross out grown men with my WYR inquiries.  Something about a feminine napkin being used inappropriately versus 7 minutes in heaven with a not so attractive South Salem Spanish instructor comes to mind.  Gross.

Anyway, I know that I promised a post or two about the 2 weeks spent with our visitors from home, but Michael has my computer (along with it, all my photos) and the tales I want to share absolutely need illustrations.

Therefore, I used the last half of my run today to think about "toss-up" scenarios - would you rather-type situations, that I reeeeally had to ponder prior to coming up with an answer.  Below are some of the things I wondered about and my correlating responses.  I am curious as to how many of you out there will lean the same way as I did when it comes to the following...

Rolling Stones or The Beatles?
        Although the Beatles Love show in Vegas was a life-altering experience, I've just gotta go with the Stones on this one.

Wine or cocktails?
        Vino, 9 times out of 10.

Probably my favorite wine ever - a 1996 Marilyn Merlot given to us as a wedding gift from the Closes

1 hour in traffic or 2 hours on back-roads?
        I know Aaron Jones feels me on this one.  An extended commute on country roads trumps a direct route in the thick of it ANY AND EVERY TIME!

Mexico or Hawaii?

Perhaps our favorite place on earth

New Years Eve or 4th of July?
        For some reason, New Years Eve fails me more often than not - while the day of the red, white and blue has yet to disappoint.

Last 4th at the waterfront with the girls

Never having to work or having a job that you love, but requires 50 hours a week?
        I realize that I'm answering this at a time when I don't have to wake up with an alarm, but I still think that given the choice, I'd rather be the working type.

A trip to the moon or a 1 month stay on each continent?
        Space freaks me out.  But I have no interest in spending a month on Antarctica.  Undecided on this one.

A garden or a yard?
        Garden.  Parks have yards of grass for days that you can visit 24/7.  Whole Foods sells basil for $4 a leaf.  You do the math.

A pool or a pool table?
        While I pride myself on being a bit of a pool shark, I've always dreamed of having a pool.  And I have to say, Michael would make a pretty sexy pool boy.

Drinks in tote?  Yes, please.

January Jones' face or Christina Hendrick's bod?
        This one's tough because Christina's face aint half bad either.  Since my underwear drawer has been filled (pun) with DDs since 1999, I'd have to take the "grass is greener" approach and go with Betty Draper's stunning baby blues.

2 of Mad Men's finest

Vacation home for a month in the summer or 2 weeks to travel anywhere in the world?
        Vacation home - as long as it was in the warm summer months and big enough to house a dozen or so guests at one time.

Guiltiest pleasure - Basketball Wives or Real Housewives?
        Love the variation that the multiple cities provide in RHW but Basketball Wives feels closer to home, therefore it takes the cake.

Killer dance moves or a voice like a songbird?
        I am overly confident in both of these areas.  I'd love to have a voice like Florence Welch, so songbird voice wins.

I mean, Kenna and Suzie seem to be loving my sweet moves

Six pack abs or a case of fine wines delivered on the 1st of every month?
        Fine wines, baby!  Do most dudes even find a "lady-pack" attractive anyway???

A luxury 1 bedroom apartment or a 1990s styled 3 bedroom condo?
        I'm quickly discovering that I need the space.  

Waking up with perfect make-up or perfect hair?
        As long as the Kardashians keep a slicked back bun in style, I'd take an effortlessly make-uped face anyday.

A child at 16 or being childless for life?
        16 and pregnant.

Unlimited iTunes purchases or a free pass to your local movie theater?
        I am consistently disappointed by movies.  Music never, ever lets me down.

The entertaining and cooking skills of Ina Garten or the waist of Giada de laurentiis?
        The housewife in me wants to say the cooking skills of Ina but the housewife who is married to a hot and deserving dude also wants to say Giada.  Shoot, I have to be a little vein here and say Giada.  That's embarrassing.

1 pair of Jimmy Choos or 10 pair of Nikes?
        Confession - I've never spent more than $75 on shoes.  That's not even a lie.  For once, I'd love to treat myself to a pair of shoes that cost more than my cable bill.

I'll take all 3

Monday, March 12, 2012

11 Things

Before I get to posting about our super cool escapades in Prague last week (good times galore!) I've been granted the opportunity to fill out and publish a questionnaire of sorts.

I was recently tagged by my girlfriend Erica (check out her fantastic blog here) in an interesting and exposing game of 11 Things.

Although her instructions did not include a "break this blog chain and experience 7 years of bad sex" type of warning, I feel a sense of urgency to have at it.

If nothing else, thanks for the talking points, E!    

1. Name one thing that drives you absolutely MAD!
When anger and rage dictate adult decisions, in turn, harming other living things.

2. Do you believe in regrets or do you think everything happens for a reason?
In my opinion, one of the greatest life failures occurs when people mess up, but somehow keep from learning and growing from the experience.  We all make mistakes but if we take the time to evaluate and evolve after something shitty goes down, shouldn't the mistake making become less frequent with time??  Certain mistakes are more damaging than others, especially when the way you live your life consistently hurts other people.  Do the best you can do at enriching the lives of those around you and you shouldn't have to dish out too many apologies.

3. Name a physical feature that you love about yourself.
My liver, as I can hold my liquor remarkably well.

4. What “group” were you part of in high school? Do you still see yourself like that now?
The fact that my girlfriend and I were the school mascots senior year should tell you something.  Being awarded "Most Spirited" and "All American Girl" put me somewhere between Leslie Knope and Michael Scott in terms of overall popularity.  I fully admit to having an awesome high school experience and I'm proud to say that the friends I made during those 4 years are still "my people" to this day.  I cared quite a lot about what people thought of me, however.  That is something I've tried to work on in my adult life.  My sole focus these days is to be true to myself instead of feeling the need to be what people think I should be.

5. What’s your take on politics?
I pray we can someday get back to "common sense" politics.  For years I've been saying Adam Carolla for President!  His take on the ridiculousness that is California government is eye-opening to say the least.  I also love that he can swing back and forth between Democrat and Republican depending on the issue.  But even he isn't right 100% of the time.  I'm cool with helping those less fortunate than myself and I do see the need to have the government regulate aspects of that altruism.  But when government aid begins to strip people of their motivation, I find serious flaws in that form of public service.  I'm not one to complain about taxes, however, I don't love the idea of  being forced to pick up the bill at Octomom's nail shop. 

6. Are you a see it: black & white or grey person?
I could have thrown in about fifty "...on the other hand..."s in the previous question, so I'd have to say I'm a grey-type thinker.  We should be granted the privilege to change our minds about things.

7. Favorite place to eat – what do you get?
This one is too difficult to answer.  I'll have to write a separate post about my favorite restaurants some other time.  For now I'll provide you with my least favorite place to eat - LOT Polish airplanes.

8.  Pro-Life / Pro-Choice?
Pro-choice.  I wish that this world was wonderful enough to support an adoption instead of abortion mentality.  I know there are TONS of people yearning for a baby who would jump at the opportunity to help an ill-equipped mother-to-be.  However, I don't see us morons devising a system that could successfully manage it.  So I'm pro-choice.  But it should be a "one and done" type of deal.  If you go back in for your second abortion, the doctor should be allowed to tie your tubes in the process.  This takes me back to question number 2.  Learn from your mistakes, you idiotttttttttts!!

9. What’s your morning routine look like?
These days my morning starts a lot later than when we're home and I'm working.  Most of the time I wake up without an alarm (I know, right?!  My mom is cringing while reading this), usually around 11:00, 11:30.  Then it's 2 cups of coffee, some computer time to see what the real world is up to and then off to the kitchen to cook breakfast for Michael after his morning practice.  I love being able to start my day like this for half of the year because from June-November, it's an alarm buzzing at 6am followed by a painful commute and 8 or 9 hours in a cubicle.

10. Dogs / Cats?
Dogs.  A gorgeous golden retriever, in particular.

11. Favorite ice cream flavor?
I'm a fro-yo girl and really, any non-fruit flavor will do.  But if given the choice, I'd much prefer an after dinner drink.  Baileys on ice is a solid move in the dessert department, if you ask me.

I'm tagging Chelsea Bell ( because I know she'll have some interesting and honest answers and let's face it, she blogs.  I have a feeling we'll differ on a few issues but I'm curious as to how much.  I'm also going to tag my good friend Peter Neal (  Though the chances of him actually participating are less likely than either of us laughing at an episode of Two and a Half Men.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Ode to Birky

Somehow I managed to leave out a key individual when referencing our junior year rap scene in yesterday's post.  This also happens to be my one friend that actually reads my blog on a regular basis.  Chelsie on Chelsea shaft - a big no no in my book.

So in order to rectify things I thought I would dedicate a few lines to one of the most fabulous and strikingly beautiful mothers around.  This lady has two amazing daughters and runs her fine house in a seemingly effortless fashion (I'm sure she'd say it's no easy task but I'm telling you, she makes it look easy).  She's wonderfully creative, laugh out loud funny and inspiring to the nth degree.

After what some might refer to as a "haircut mishap" in middle school, Chels decided rather than throw in the pixie towel and stay long forever, she'd get back on the horse and attempt to rock a sassy short look.

In my opinion, no one on this entire planet could make it look better.  Love you, Birks.  Keep raising the bar for us.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Houseguests; The "dress rehearsal"

Last weekend couldn't have been more amazing.  I laughed harder, danced fiercer and chatted more honestly than I had in a long while.  If you were privy to pictures from an entry I posted a few weeks back, you are already familiar with my ladies from Koszalin.  Acrila and her daughter are pals of ours from 2 seasons ago - Dee is a newbie to the AZS team but quick to become a fan favorite.  They were brave and made the 3 hour journey via train to come stay for a couple of nights last weekend.

Can I just say real quick that we've never, really ever, had space other than a spare couch or two to offer up to visitors?  It's so great to actually be able to provide a couple of spare rooms to friends who decide to crash.  This concept gets me anxious to have a house of our own someday soon (please, God!!) and I inevitably digress.  Back to the goods...our weekend!

Like women who have been pent up in a foreign country for far too long, we managed in less than 36 hours (along with help from Michael and a teammate or two) to squeeze in a basketball game, a pizza party at our place, shopping for American health conscious individuals (i.e. Quinoa, tofu patte, etc), lunch at a Chipotle wannabe spot called Burritos (hey, I'm not complaining!), a bottle of my favorite red that I brought from home, a bottle of Belvedere that we picked up at Tesco, a night dancing to early 2000 jams such as tunes from the infamous album pictured below...

Not to mention other songs that brought back hilarious memories from high school - I think for all of us.  Mom, whatever you do, do not click on the link below.  Manzo, Kenna, Katie, Brie or Tara, feel free to listen and jam on back into our Junior year.  This song came on at the club we ended up at.  Best Polish dance club ever?????

All in all, we absolutely loved having company, loved having an awesome little girl to entertain us and decided that they must make the trip up many more times before the season ends.

Here are a few of my favorite pix...

Us gals (and Roy - can you spot him?)

Aila with her old friend Elephant and her new friend Roy.

 Club Ape??

Don't ask questions - just snap photo.

I finally wised up and started bringing my own jar of green olives to the bar.  Vodka on ice, mixed with my purse concoction = Dirty Martinis galore.

No doubt about it, we know how to work the club scene.

My sister is coming!!

In just 2 short days I'll be picking up my 2 favorite CJs in the entire world from the Gdansk airport!  They will be our very first "official" visitors (I've had friends come out and we've met up in different countries, but no one has been brave enough to rough it with us here).  Michael is going to enjoy having another dude from home finally come visit - but his anticipation's got nothin' on the giddiness I feel knowing my little sister will be here in mere hours!

Here is a list of the things I'm most looking forward to doing with my sis...

- girl talk!!  (the act of conversation, not the game from the 80's - though that would be awesome as well)

- taking her to Da Vinci's for tomato soup
- taking her to Thai Thai for coconut milk soup
- taking her to our nautical shack on the sea for fish soup (notice a theme here???)
- going to a spin class with her at our gym
- making breakfast for her in the morning
- going on long runs down by the water - my favorite running partner of all time
- doing some shopping with a FEMALE companion, for once!!
- bringing her to the market and seeing her eye-balls pop out of her head
- watching tons of terrible television
- sleeping in and not feeling like the only worthless human in this city
- taking her to the games
- introducing her to our doormen - they are going to LOVE her!!
- watching her drive our Smart car - should be interesting
- having somebody who wants to borrow my clothes again
- having somebody to borrow clothes from!

Stay tuned - this is going to be the trip of a lifetime for all of us!!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

My run with Mary

I recently wrote of my newfound appreciation, via a deeper connection, of music while I work-out.  I spoke of how I'm attempting to re-focus my attention on the actual words being sung, not just the beats being blasted.  If you've ever taken a spin class, you've heard the term "cadence" used in reference to the rhythm of your movement.  This is typically my staple move, especially when running.  My feet hit the ground in accordance with the beat.  During fast songs my jog becomes a sprint and on the slow tracks, I pull in the reigns a bit.  I'm sure any decent running coach would say that this form of interval training is wonderful in terms of building endurance and killing kcals, but that's never my purpose.  The beat is typically what carries me.  But today something different happened.  I absolutely murdered my run, and I might as well have been listening to a microphone-less poet whisper in a coffee shop.  I'm not even lying when I tell you that all I heard while on my run today were words.  Commandments from a wise female practically begging the rest of us ladies to to do something that we far too often forget to do - respect ourselves.

Oh boy, my heart is racing as I type this.  Bare with me as I work through the next couple of sentences.  This morning I hopped on the treadmill, just like any other day.  I pressed the QUICKSTART button (does anybody actually mess with the settings??) and hit play on my pod.  The treadmills in the gym I use are all lined up to face a large set of floor to ceiling windows.  Every day I gaze out at the street, wondering where passer-bys are headed and what their worlds might consist of.

Not even 60 seconds into my run and I see a couple arguing just below us on the sidewalk.  Tears stream down the woman's cheeks as the man explodes into a fit of rage.  She turns away from him, he follows like a magnet.  She takes a step back.  He takes a leap forward.  Before my blood even had time to reach its boiling point, it happened...he slapped her across the face.

I screamed.  I couldn't help it.  My left hand raced to cover my mouth while my right arm reached towards the couple.  I pointed and gasped and looked around me for similar reactions.  Crickets.

Such is the single most enormous frustration I encounter in my life - feeling like I need to do or say something but knowing it's not really my business.  It's a constant struggle in this here brain of mine.  I've never been one to sit idly by when witness to an unjust situation.  My urge to intervene jumps ten fold when physical abuse is involved.

But what could I have even done today?

After thinking about it long and hard this afternoon, I decided that if this had happened at home in the English speaking states, I would have at least gone up to the girl and asked if she was alright.  But being in a foreign land, unable to fully communicate, the only thing I could do today was watch and wait and hope that he didn't inflict further abuse.

(I also went into the next room and pounded on the window as he finally walked off, hoping he'd look up and see me.  I was either going to give him the "eyes" or give him the finger, thinking that if he knew somebody had been watching he'd at least think twice about lifting his hand next time.  He never looked up.)

With Mary J. Blige in my earbuds, I fought the tears back and promised myself that the women in my life would only ever feel strengthened by my influence.  That if I wasn't able to step in and attempt to lift up that poor woman on the street today, I would at least reach out to the women in my world.

So here are some words of wisdom from a lady much more astute than I.  Here's what I heard during my run with Mary.

Take Me as I Am

Yes she's older now, yes she's wiser now.
Can't disguise her now, she don't need,
No one tellin' her what to do and say.
No one telling her who to be.
She's on solid ground, she's been lost and found.
Now she answers to G-O-D.

So take me as I am
or have nothing at all.
Just take me a I am
or have nothing at all.

Ain't Really Love

I've held my tongue too long I can't do it no more.
How can a man be so cold to a woman that loves him most?
If you wanna go, there's the door.
I can't hold ya, boy your grown.
You must got me confused, 
I treat myself way too good.
A love that tears you down, ain't really love.

Good Woman Down

It doesn't matter what they say or do.
Don't let 'em get to you.
Don't be afraid, you can breakthrough.
Take what I've been through to see that,
you can't hold a good woman down.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wait, what?! Wednesday

Wait, what?!  I'm not depressed!  So what if it's been 4 days since I've had physical, human contact.  With a spread like this, how could one feel less than stellar?!  Thank God for skype, salami, stinky cheeses and Malbec.

So this week's Wait, What?! Wednesday is a little bit of a stretch.  I don't really have anything of "shock value" to share with you.  I guess I could have referred you to yesterday's post, if you hadn't yet read it.  Boom!  Hawaii in T minus 3.5 months.  That's certainly Wait, What?! worthy, if I do say so myself.

Basically this post will just be another opportunity for me to check in with those wondering what I'm up to this week.  In the last couple of days I've been fortunate enough to skype with both of my parents, Jenni Eicher (a childhood friend who currently lives in Hong Kong and is doing big things), Erica (a girlfriend from last season) Ellen, Jen, Sierra and Carli.  Shoot, that's almost better than I do when I'm actually home!  There is nothing like reconnecting with some of your favorite humans.  It can make the miles between you feel like mere kilometers (hey, that's nearly half the distance - the math is solid, trust me).

Michael's road game is finally on TV tonight.  I guess they've been broadcasting all the Euroleague games but we just don't have the channel.  For those curious about it, I can confirm that watching live box-scores on a shifty, European gambling web-site is less than wonderful.

His team is playing Turow, the team he played for last year.  Quick sidenote, I had to go back and change the sentence from "Our team is playing Turow, the team we played for last year" because it sounds obnoxious and self-righteous when us wives talk like that.  I've been better at catching myself lately.

Meanwhile, I'm snacking on some tasty appe-teasers and enjoying this rich glass of red.  Perhaps more to come at half-time???

Go Prokom!!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

You make me hot

I really wish I could upload a picture from 2000 right about now.  "You make me hot" is what Michael spray-painted on a hot water heater (that he found lord knows where) and lovingly placed in my parent's front yard.  I believe my mom woke me up that particular morning in mid-April, with a "Rise and shine.  Michael has a question for you.  Also, that thing needs to be out of the front yard before lunch."

The sweet/embarrassing gesture was enough to secure a prom date in yours truly.  It would be the first of many times that Michael would find a way to surprise me in the absolute least cliche possible.

Take today for example.  The guys are on the road and once again, I find myself in complete solitude on global love-bird day.  Of course, I found a way to make the most of it (baked brownies for the doorman, jogged along the boardwalk, talked with my sister over her morning coffee) but I found myself circa 6pm feeling a little bit depressed.  Michael had been traveling all day and finally called from his hotel room, abundant with crispy towels but lacking in the ever-necessary internet access.

"I hate to do this, but will you just go into my email and open up the drafts folder," he said.

"Ohhhhhhh kaay," was my response (slightly miffed but willing to humor him).

Expecting to find a cheesy E-card that he was unable to send off himself, I was shocked to find 2 round-trip tickets to Hawaii for the first week in June!!

I would love to lie to you and say that he then declared, "Let's bask in the sunshine.  You still make me hot after all these years," but to be honest, I'm pretty sure he just said, "Happy Valentines Day babe.  Is it June yet??"

It was enough to make my heart skip a beat.  The countdown to paradise is on!!

Happy Valentines Day to all my dearest friends back in the US of A.