For the first time this year, my blog has little to do with our performance on the soccer pitch. It is old news that we lost the final to Western New York 5-4 in PK’s. The WPS is now in its off season and Lianne and I are marking our footprints around the world.
First stop: Deep Creek Lake, MD. This is the location of my parent’s lake house and where we attempt to hold annual reunions. I say attempt because my family is spread far and wide across the globe. My brother, Peter, lives in India with his wife and two kids where he works for the State Department. My sister, Molly, resides in California with her husband and two children where she works for California Berkley. Then there is me, the wild card where at any given moment I could be anywhere in the world. Needless to say, it is rare when we all get together so it makes for very special moments.
After our season, Lianne and I had very difficult decisions to make. Do we rush off abroad before the transfer deadline to play soccer for the highest bidder or do we take some time to relax and see our loved ones. Although it is tempting to keep in the flow of the soccer season, we realize how important it is and how good it feels to be around your family. Therefore, the decision turned out to be an easy one and off to Deep Creek we went.
When you spend a week with 6 kids under the age of 6, there is no stop in action. To compliment my parents beautiful 5 bedroom house on the lake, we rented another right down the road to accommodate all the guests. We road bikes, swam in both the lake and indoor pools, jet skied, wake boarded, played tennis, drove golf balls, read books, made fires, roasted smores, watched movies, and the list goes on.
One of our favorite activities to do with the kids was what we called “rabbit hunting”. No one has to worry; this is all G-rated stuff so no rabbits were harmed during the hunts. A better way to describe it would be “rabbit searching”. My lake house is a sanctuary for numerous animals: bears, rabbits, frogs, deer, etc. Considering it wouldn’t be smart to search for bears, we chose the next friendliest animal, rabbits. We would take all six kids and go out into the back yard, keeping our eyes peeled for our fluffy little friends. We would run into the neighbors yards yelling, “Rabbits, where are you?” Once we spotted one (and we did six times) we would all be very quiet and begin to sneak up on it carefully. Since we are talking about kids that are at the average age of 2.5, they could barely contain their excitement. In the beginning the rabbit would be chased away within seconds but our wee hunting apprentices really improved, and soon we were within a few feet of the cuddly hoppers. Overall, the hunts were extremely successful. We managed to track down six rabbits, one baby frog, and one snake. As my niece, Mariel aptly stated “We were in the rain forest!” Ha. Too many animal shows.
The hunts were not the only successful part of the week. We all managed to get along superbly without any real issues. It was so wonderful to spend time with my siblings and my parents. Honestly, it was one of the better weeks of my life and it reinforced our non-soccer playing decision ten times over.
To say we were sad to leave would be an understatement. It is never easy to leave your family after such an amazing week, especially when you know you won’t see them for a long long time. However, we still had so much to look forward to, and included in that, was our upcoming flight to London.
Second stop: London. After a brief jaunt in Gaithersburg, MD where our close friends, Liz Manning and Charlotte Mace helped pack up our final things, we were off to England.
The flight was surprisingly easy. Maybe being able to watch the Premier League top goals from the 2010-2011 season was a part of this…maybe =) Thanks Virgin airlines for understanding our love for the game.
To go through all the incredible activities we did in England would take about 5 pages, so I will try to summarize it in an entertaining fashion. Liannes family and friends were so happy to have her on the British side of the Pond. We had many inadvertent late nights because there was so much to catch up on. Conversations just flowed as if we had never left, which I believe is the sign of true friendship.
We again became familiar with all the beautiful parts of London: Soho, Westminster Abby, the Embankment, Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, and Hyde Park.
To our pleasant surprise, the weather was fantastic. On most days the sun would shine through the clouds as if it was a reflection of our mood. Another pleasant surprise was who we were able to meet up with, both familiar and unfamiliar faces. For instance, Heather Mitts (our old Philly teammate), Hussa Khalid (the head of Arab women’s soccer), Emma Hayes (a big part of why WNY was champion of the WPS), and Alex Scott (Lianne’s old Arsenal teammate and current Boston Breakers defender) were a few of the off the cuff rendezvous.
Like leaves in the wind, we spent days just going wherever life took us. One day it may have meant the theatre in London or drinks in Soho. Another day it meant cleaning out Lianne’s room that was in desperate need for a renovation. It was a spontaneous adventure that was capped off with a trip to Old Trafford to watch what would be one of the craziest soccer games of all time. Manchester United versus Chelsea. It really doesn’t get much bigger than that. Practically sitting on the field, we had up close views of all the amazing goals and even more memorable, all the amazing misses. Just when you thought Torres’ luck couldn’t get much worse, he misses a wide open goal to secure Chelsea’s second goal; a game changing error that will be replayed for years to come.
Throughout all the London action and fast times, we were also able to spend some quality time with her close family. Her nephew, Luke, is growing up quickly (knows how to use and IPhone at nearly 2 years old) and her niece, Melissa, is now a teenager. Her father, Jeff, is still a wonderful cook and her mother is even better known in the community. Her Grandmother still pushes her trolley all over town and makes great prawn sandwiches. Her sister, Joanne, still teaches swimming classes at the local pool and her brother, Danny, continues to be a great father to his two kids.
I know Lianne and I are both so grateful for the memories we created during our three weeks away from the game. When you love soccer as much as we do, however, it is not too long before you find your way back. With that said, I write this blog in our new apartment in Barcelona where we will spend the next three months playing for Espanyol. It is our next great adventure and one we will embrace open armed. So, enjoy the non-soccer blog because we are back in action, Spanish style. Ole!!