Saturday, December 24, 2011

Written Paper Rings

#51. Written Paper Rings.




 So, I got this idea from an online magazine called "The Violet". It's called Written Paper Rings. Basically, it acts as a countdown.  You make a bunch of little paper rings and on each paper ring you can write either something fun you could do that day, something funny, or even an inspirational quote. For example, some of mine rings might say "Go see a movie!" or "Start your puzzle". Some of them have fun things that I could do in Vienna, like "Tour the Opera House". Some of my rings are more complicated like "Plan a Trip to Another Country", while some of them are as simple as "Draw". And, several of my rings have cool quotes about love and happiness, as well.

All in all, I have 129 written paper rings now decorating my apartment, because in 129 days I will be home!

This is a fun way to look forward to coming home while still making the most of my time here in Vienna! It begins tomorrow and I can't wait to get started! :)

Merry Christmas to all my friends and family! I love you very much and wish I was there to celebrate the holidays with you! Sending hugs and kisses from Vienna!

Kayla

P.S. Here is "The Office" clip for you! Sorry, Eric, I forgot which one you suggested to me the other day :/ Have a good laugh!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Walk Through The Park

So, my dear friend Ellie Blankenship, is playing in Innsbruck, Austria (about a 5 hour drive from me) and her team was playing today in Vienna! She came up early to see me and Jenna (who she knew through USA). We spent last night at the Christmas markets and this morning at Starbucks. We had to drop her off at the gym today at 1:00. However, she wasn't playing until 3:00. So we had some time to kill. There was a park nearby and we decided to just go on a walk to pass the time. Low and behold, we walked through some very breathtaking nature. Sometimes something so beautiful can be so close, you never know when you'll stumble upon it.
 (Our other teammate, Svenja, decided to come with us.)
The water was so blue!

These are the kinds of things in life that I draw inspiration from (I am truly a romantic). It was gorgeous. And of course after this amazing stroll through the park, we got to watch Ellie play :)
Her team won in 5!

So, all in all, it was a pretty good day for me :)

Kayla 

P.S. Here's your "The Office" clip.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Part 3: VIENNA!

I arrived in Vienna on November 17th, around 5:00 PM. I traveled for about 16 hours total. I went from Dubuque to Chicago; Chicago to Warsaw, Poland (about an 8 hour flight); Warsaw to Vienna (about an hour and a half flight). I was picked up at the airport by a club administrator. After a quick stop at the gym to pick up my gear, we headed to a hotel (I would be staying here for a few days until an apartment opened up). I was dropped off and then told, "I'll pick you up at 9:15 tomorrow morning. Pack for two days." Apparently we were going on a road trip to Slovenia and Croatia during the next couple days. So I was picked up the next day and went to the gym for a morning serve and pass practice. After practice we hit the road. It was a 4 hour drive to Maribor, Slovenia. We got off the bus and went right away to play the match. I didn't play libero because I was a little bit jet lagged. But, I did get in a few times as a DS. We lost in 4. The next day we got on the bus again in the morning and drove another 4 hours to Croatia. It was the same routine here: get off the bus and play a match right away. I liberoed tonight and we won in 4. Still didn't quite have my legs under me yet but I did okay. After the match we got on the bus and drove the 7 hours back to Vienna. It was a LONG trip and we didn't get home until about 4. And because I was still on a completely different time zone, I couldn't fall asleep til about 5 and then (being the idiot that I am) slept til 2 :/ Which means that I didn't fall asleep the next night either. It took me about a week to get on the right time zone. I had to force myself to stay awake during the day and took some Tylenol PM to fall asleep at night.

After about a week I moved into my apartment...my tiny apartment. It has one bedroom/living room/dining room, a teeny tiny kitchen area, and a teeny tiny bathroom. But, I'm not really complaining about it anymore because I've made it pretty homey, and to be honest I don't really need much more that this. The only thing I would love to have though is a microwave...and maybe an oven :) I have a stove top with two burners, a sink, and two small counters. So, except for the things I can (and know) how to cook on a stove top, not much cookin gets done here. Want the grand tour? Okay here we go...
Here is the living room/bedroom/dining room. Picture taken from the kitchen.
I have lots of shelf and closet space which I love.
My sink and stove top. Yeah that's the front door on the left if you want to kind of piece it all together (not that there is a lot to piece together).
The other side of the kitchen. You can see the corner of the refrigerator at the bottom. The teeny tiny refrigerator :) Again, lots of cabinet space. More than I know what to do with. 
As soon as you walk in the door, the bathroom is on the left. 
Small shower. Like really small...
Told you it was small. 
View of the front door from the window in the living room/bedroom/dining room.
And lastly, my bed/futon/couch. Again, huge closets next to the bed. Yeah I brought my teddy bear, go ahead, judge me :)

I was a little disappointed because I thought my apartment would be right smack dab in the center of the city of Vienna. But, I live in the part of town that is called Schwechat. The best way I know how to describe it is "Asbury is to Dubuque as Schwechat is to Vienna". Make sense? Anyways it's about a 12 minute "U Bahn" (aka subway) ride to the city center and WOW the city of Vienna is absolutely beautiful. These pictures aren't of the exact center of the city but you can get a feel for the architecture in Vienna.

Gorgeous right? Needless to say, I look forward to the days that I get to go into the city. AND one of those days is coming up soon! Wednesday night, my teammates, Jenna Hagglund and Svenja Engelhardt, and I are going to see a production of the musical "Hair"! I'm so excited! And I'm even more excited that it's going to be in English! I also got to spend last night in the city, as well. Jenna and Svenja and I went to a few different places. What did we do? Well, we got into the Christmas spirit and went and checked out a few local Christmas markets! Each year during Christmas time, a bunch of different markets go up around town and they have a ton of booths that sell anything from ornaments and candles to paintings or hats. 
Ornament booth. All hand-made, I might add. They were very beautiful.

All the markets have places you can get food, as well. And of course, I'm learning that the biggest hit of the Christmas markets is the punsch! It is a hot wine fruit drink. There are normally several booths selling punsch at each market and majority of the people there can be seen nursing a warm mug. And I must say, the punsch is so delicious!


We went to a few Christmas markets yesterday. The first we went to was in front of the Schonbrunn Palace.
Amazing, right?

We finished up the evening at the Rathaus Christmas market. Wait til you see this...

So beautiful it doesn't look real. From what I understand (aka wikipedia told me), this is where the mayor works and they have city council meetings and all that kind of good stuff. Anyways, I got some orange punsch at this Christmas market! So good! 

I've been here for almost a month, and I'm very much in love with Vienna already. We have Wednesday off so before we go see "Hair" that night I'm planning on a day of shopping and being in the city! Can't wait! Then on Saturday we're headed to Budapest to play a match. The number of countries I've been to has rapidly grown in the past month and I'm sure will continue to grow. Very exciting. Next blog I'll tell you more about volleyball, but for now the inspiration from the city has taken over me :) 

Sending love from Austria!

Kayla

P.S. Here is your "The Office" clip. Backstory: Dwight is hosting a garden party. Jim wrote a book called "How to Throw a Garden Party" knowing that Dwight would buy it. In the book he wrote that everyone who entered the party needed to be formally announced. Jim has some fun with it. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

HOME

Yes, I've decided to split this up into several blogs because I've been doing a lot in the past two months. And there are three different time periods I could split it into: Guadalajara, Home, and Vienna.

So, here comes Part 2! HOME!

Team USA flew from Guadalajara to LAX on October 21st (I'm pretty sure). From there, I booked a flight that night to Lincoln. So, I collected my bags from the first flight and turned right around and checked into my next flight. OF COURSE, my first flight was delayed, causing me to miss my next flight. I seriously have the worst travel luck ever. So, because of these delays, I was stuck in Denver for the night and would catch a morning flight to Omaha. This is not the first time I've been stuck in Denver trying to get to NE (yeah I told you I have bad travel luck). So, I got to Lincoln on a Saturday, I believe. First thing on the list of things to do: a much-needed pedicure! Thanks to Mama B! I got one of the best pedicures of my life. I forget who it was but if you want to know ask her. I'm sure she remembers. Anyways, since my one of my suitcases got lost on the way to Omaha (again, worst travel luck ever), I didn't have any flip flops to put on so my toes got ruined right away. Haha, figures. After my pedicure I went and showered and headed to the Husker vb game with my mom and brother. They played Illinois and won in 4! They played great. I stayed and trained with the team on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (which might have made my year...like I seriously look forward to when I can get back and play with the Huskers in the Coliseum). And Wednesday after practice, I made the 6 hour drive home to Dubuque! I hadn't been home since April, and even then it was only for like a week or maybe less than that. I wanted to get home early during this break because I didn't know yet when I would be leaving for Vienna. I honestly thought I would have to be flying out the very next weekend. So, I wanted to make sure I got to spend half of my time off at home with the family. Well, it turns out that Austrians (particularly my club) might be the most unorganized people on Earth. Even after I told them I was ready to come out (I had gotten all the documents I needed) they didn't book my flight to Vienna til almost a month since I got back from Guadalajara. Which meant I could've spent more time in Lincoln training. Oh well, I wasn't complaining. I got to spend almost three weeks at home! And an amazing three weeks it was! I told myself I wasn't going to workout or do anything. I was just gonna relax because I'd been running myself into the ground for the past nine months. Literally, the last two or three months of my time in Cali I was working out at night on top of practicing and lifting during the day. Yeah, I kinda went crazy I guess. Anyways, I didn't workout at all when I was home. I hung out with my brother, my dad, and my mom... A LOT! And it was perfect. Most of the time it was just us relaxing. We went and got steaks at Kalmes' one night, mom and I went to Carlos O'Kelly's a lot (its my favorite)! Eric and I went and played vb a few times. Turns out he's pretty good (who would've thunk it). And, yes, he may or may not have, but definitely did, six pack me pretty hard. He had some heat behind it, too. I tried to play it off like it barely hurt and I'd had worse, but damn! He smoked me pretty good.

Speaking of volleyball, I had the chance to go to some of my high school games, something I'd never gotten to do before because I was always in the middle of my college season. I watched them qualify for state and went to one of their practices to give them a little pep talk. A great group of girls who had a great season!

I got to see all my relatives, too! Brunch with my aunts (my dad's sisters) and Grandma Banwarth was fun! We got to go twice and if you get them together it's always worth a good laugh or two...three :) I got to see my aunts and uncles on my mom's side, as well! Spent a lot of time at Mary's (you know Mary, she's in one of my earlier blogs) house in front of the fire! I got to meet Lauren's boyfriend Ian! He's definitely a keeper, Lauren :) Basically, I got to see everyone that I missed during the past 9 months of my life. INCLUDING....drumroll please.....ALICIA SIEVERDING AND KALI BLOCKLINGER! Two of my very best friends! I got to see them twice and catch up on everything with them and of course, all the drama :)
Basically, my time at home was the best I've had in a very long time. It felt good to be around love and family again. It was the perfect way for me to regain my sanity before I started my season in Vienna. 

Kayla

P.S. Eric got a pretty good kick out of this clip, hope you do too! 
P.P.S. I crossed off some of my 101 in 1001! 
27.               Make a wish at 11:11 on November 11th, 2011.
84.               Go to Olive Garden.


Pan Am Games!

So I've been on a blogging sabbatical (much to the dismay of my brother and Aunt Serri), and its been almost two months so it's about time I got back on the horse. So I guess I'll just pick up where I left off. And yes, in case you haven't guessed, this is going to be a ridiculously long blog post.

So October 11th, I was headed to Guadalajara to play in the Pan American Games with Team USA Volleyball. The Pan Am Games was quite literally, a mini-Olympics. Any summer sport that was an event in the Olympics was competing in these games. And from what I understand for the city of Guadalajara, it was basically a test to see whether or not they were capable of hosting an Olympics (which they are trying to do in the future). Anyways, we got there about 5 days before the volleyball part of the games started. And we got about and hour and a half of training time every day. We lifted a few days during this time and had access to a really nice weight room. I guess I should explain the living arrangements first. All the athletes from all sports stayed in what was called "The Village". In the village was an apartment complex that housed all of us, a weight room/workout facility, a makeshift dining hall, and the "International Zone". In the "International Zone was a stage where they had various artists and performers come in, a Starbucks, a Burger King, a Blue Bell ice cream booth, and a hang out area with chairs and couches we could relax. So we went and lifted in the weight room a couple times. And in the weight room there were spin bikes! YAY! For those of you who don't know I got really into spinning the last two or three months I was in Cali. So I was happy to be able to spin while I was in Mexico for a couple weeks. We had access to the weight room whenever we wanted to use it. The food we ate in the dining hall was...a challenge...to say the least. Basically, I lived on refried beans, rice, and tortilla chips while I was there. But, they had PEPSI! Coolers full of Pepsi! Thank the good Lord above. I would've died, literally died from a headache if I couldn't have Pepsi while I was there.

And since we were there for the beginning of all of the Games, we got to go to the opening ceremonies! This was AMAZING! It was just like the opening ceremonies for the Olympics. They were held in a soccer stadium and it was sold out with 50,000 Mexicans screaming. I have a video but the sound is terrible. Okay, the sound is non-existent. And if you want to watch it you're going to have to turn your head to the side because I can't figure out how to turn it. But, this is the American athletes about to take part in the Parade of Champions during the ceremonies.We are waiting in the tunnel about to be introduced. It takes a minute to get out of the tunnel but once we do the stadium is amazing! And it was so loud! Completely surreal experience.
video
I wrote this the night of opening ceremonies after got back to the village. I wanted it to be fresh in my mind.

"Pan American Games Opening Ceremonies:
Oh. My. God. I am mind blowed.
Tonight was the opening ceremonies for the 2011 Pan American Games.  I can confidently say that this was the biggest/coolest/most significant thing I have ever experienced in my entire life. I have never felt more inspired, happy, excited, proud, American, overwhelmed, or amazed. Period. Ever. This was the most amazing thing I have ever been a part of.
I have been training with USA since January 17th, 2011. I have done nothing but train for close to 10 months. It has been a very rough journey, so far. I have smiled. I have cried. I have loved it. I have hated it. I have seen myself as a future Olympian. I have wanted to quit. It was never easy.
So far, it has been 270 days of this crazy life I have chosen. And tonight, at this amazing opening ceremonies, it all became worth it." 
So yeah it was pretty cool! 

We started competing, like I said, about 5 days after we got there. We started off playing Puerto Rico. I got in as a serving sub, and I'm pretty sure this is the match that I got an ace in! Yay! Pretty good for not serving in a match since December! Next we played Peru, and the next day we played Mexico. I got in as a serving sub in all these matches. We won all three to go undefeated in pool play, which meant we had a bye the first round of tournament play. We played Cuba in the semifinals. We lost in four :( but we still had a chance at medaling (which was our ultimate goal for the games). And the next night we played Domincan Republic for the bronze. WE WON! So, we got to go home with a sweet bronze medal!
It was kind of funny because EVERYONE cheered against the USA. Like, no matter who we played the crowd was cheering for them. Basically, the Latin American countries vs. USA. They didn't like us very much. But, then after the match, they would always ask for pictures and autographs. Two-timers! And because we weren't very liked down in Mexico we had two body guards from the State Department with us any time we left the village. They were super cool and fun to be around. I kept giving them a hard time about their job. I mean all they did really was hang out with us all day. Pretty sweet job huh? Anyways, they gave us all code names, and my name was "Taken". This was because one of the first things I asked them was "So, you two are kind like the guy from "Taken" huh? Like you could pretty much take someone down?" They got a kick out of it and from then on I was known as "Taken". 

So, overall, it was a great trip for me and I'm so glad I got to go!

Kayla