Home for the Holidays

As the saying goes, there’s no place like home for the holidays, and whoever said that is so stinking right. Especially when you live relatively isolated from ‘home’ for much of the year. I got really lucky and had an entire week to spend with my wonderful family back in lil’ old West Chester, Ohio.

I usually have a nice little list of things to do, people to see, and mostly food to eat πŸ˜€ but I was so happy and content to mostly hang out at home with my fam and see some of my friends. I had a very relaxed schedule (filled with a bunch of Christmas shopping πŸ˜‰ ) but I definitely was in need of time away from the game that I love. I haven’t had more than 3 days off since I think April. It’s been a lot. Don’t get me wrong, I am not at all complaining about it- like I said I (generally) LOVE what I do- but I know how important it is to unplug from volley, step away, and recharge the batteries.

One of the highlights for me every Christmas is our Family’s Christmas Party. We have a nice shindig with lots of drinks, snacks, and merry making with all of our neighbors. Friday and Saturday was full of party prep including making the famous Hagglund Swedish Meatballs. Somehow they did not make it to the party (due to some refrigeration issues, oops!), but making and tasting them was enough fun and excitement Dad, Nick and myself. The party (as always) was a huge success! Mom even worked some magic with homemade Gluhwein that tasted just like the ones in Germany.

Goofballs

Goofballs

Meatball Man!

Meatball Man!

It was bound to be a successful night ;)

It was bound to be a successful night πŸ˜‰

Christmas morning was as great as well- filled with smiles, laughter, surprise, and thanks. Unfortunately, I had to leave that evening to get back for practice on the 26th, so the festivities halted a bit early. I had to strategically pack my little life up again and say goodbye to the people I love most. It was one of the tougher goodbyes I’ve had to make recently. But like another saying goes, all good things must come to an end. It was a bittersweet end to my Christmas holiday, an absolutely blessing to have a chance to be home and of course there will be more great holidays and wonderful times with family in the future πŸ™‚

Before Christmas Eve Mass

Before Christmas Eve Mass

Here’s hoping your Christmas was filled with as much happiness and love as mine was πŸ™‚

Advertisements

Ain’t No Party Like a Jozwiak Party

Let’s see, where did I leave off? Ah, yes. I was fresh off a plane from Paris and about 4 hours into a drive towards DC. Thank goodness my parents drove, because I was KNOCKED OUT in the back seat. After a quick stay in a hotel and another 4ish hours on the road, we got to Washington DC the next day for my cousin Jeremy’s Wedding weekend!

I was excited for this weekend for quite a few reasons.
1. Wedding, duh.
2. Family get together! (and my participation in the July 4th family get-together is up in the air)
3. My Aunt Diane spontaneously got married one week prior, so double celebration!

Basically, I’m obsessed with my family and due to my unorthodox lifestyle, I don’t see them nearly as much as I’d like to. Also, the Jozwiaks (my mother’s side of the family) sure do know how to have a GREAT time. We checked into the hotel around 1 pm and had so much fun running into everyone that was checking in and getting settled. We packed the bar and started celebrating real quick. So many hugs and smiles. I couldn’t have been happier… until my cousin Brianna decided to make the trip!

More on that: so I RSVP’s about 1 week before the wedding because I was hoping to not be home but competing in playoffs in France but didn’t really tell anyone. Not many of my generation relatives were coming to this wedding just because of schedules and what not. But when I saw Brie’s parents at the hotel we started tweeting and texting her… I did my best to peer pressure her into making the 3-4 hour drive down from Jersey. Thankfully, it did not take a lot of pressure on my part and she came down the next afternoon for the wedding. I was pretty pumped to have my partner in crime there πŸ™‚

All in all we had an incredible time. The rehearsal dinner was delicious and a total blast. The time change was in my favor the next morning so I went for a run through the Mall (where all the monuments and important buildings are in DC) around 6 am when there was a warm sunset and nobody around. THAT was awesome.

The wedding was GORGEOUS. My cousin Jeremy picked a BEAUTIFUL bride in Ashley Gilmore Rephlo. She is an absolute sweetheart and both her and Jeremy seem so in love and so happy. Highlight, however, was the dance floor post ceremony. My family knows how to DANCE. We were rocking out all night, all ages included.

The next morning was slower for a whole lot of us but still full of smiles and stories of the ceremony, reception, and shenanigans of the previous night. And by that afternoon, my parents and I were on our way back to Cincinnati. I’m not sure it could have been more of a whirlwind week for me, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. And there’s definitely no way I would have missed an opportunity to see and celebrate with my family.

Reuniting!

Hello Mr. and Mrs. Rephlo

Hello Mr. and Mrs. Rephlo

Family!

Family!

Dance floor fun!

Dance floor fun!

The other newlyweds <3

The other newlyweds ❀

First dance

Hey girl hey!

Hey girl hey!

Cutting the Cake

Cutting the Cake

Photo Booth with my Cousin Matt

Photo Booth with my Cousin Matt

Love her!

Love her!

Versailles

At the end of my parents’ stay, we had a match in Paris so I was able to stay the entire next day with my mom and dad. And with that time, we decided to explore the Palace of Versailles. According to my Rick Steve’s travel guide, this is on the shortlist of places to see if you get to Europe. I’m not sure if I’d put it quite so high, but it was a really beautiful place and well worth a visit.

My favorite part was probably the Hall of Mirrors. It was an entry way at one point and also used for reception ceremonies. One side of the wall is all windows, the other side of the room is all panels of mirrors, and from the ceiling are dozens of chandeliers with dozens more candles. It was a really beautiful place.

One of the first hallways we passed through had all these statues of the past Kings of France. It was interesting to see the styles change through the centuries? ha. I actually couldn’t stop taking pictures of these silly statues (they’re not supposed to be silly), but, to me, they tend to be in such goofy, girly poses! How come no one is flexing some muscle or taking a power stance in the statues that will represent them for eternity? Do your thing Frenchies, more power to you.

Another highlight of the main Palace was Angelina Cafe πŸ˜€ I went to Angelina’s at another location in Paris during my first trip. Kristy, Coop, and I had our minds absolutely blown by the hot chocolate and desserts. So I was ecstatic to be able to share the same amazing deliciousness with my mom and dad. We had the hot chocolate again, of course, and each had a different dessert that was oh so good. I picked up some macaroons to take and Mom bought quite a few milk chocolate bars and cookie tins to bring back as gifts (whether they were actually given, I’m not so sure πŸ˜‰ )

So about Versailles- there’s the main Palace of Versaille, and then there are MILES of gardens. Unfortunately, the gardens weren’t quite up and running since it was Februrary, but we did take a tram to see Marie Antoinette’s summer home and another couple buildings on the property. It was really interesting, but by the afternoon, the weather decided to take a turn for the worse- getting REALLY cold and actually snowing on us. Not cool, Versailles. We pulled the plug on any extra exploring pretty quickly.

We ended the night at a random restaurant for dinner that turned out so good. Took our bottle of red wine, I tried escargot! Eek, snails! They were actually really good, and get this: STU TRIED THEM TOO! My dad is a very picky eater so I was/am super proud that he even considered it, let alone tolerating them.

It was a total bummer to say goodbye to my parents that night, but I know how lucky I am to have had them visit at all. It was just what I needed to rejuvenate me for the back third of my stay in France.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing EVERYONE a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving πŸ™‚

Being in another country away from your family and friends for holidays is tough. It makes you think about what and who you’re missing. And on this Thanksgiving (as with most of them) I want nothing more than to be waking up in my bed in West Chester, having my dad whip up some French toast while we watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; and start digging out the Christmas decorations with Hanson’s Snowed In CD playing while mom mans the kitchen. (Us Hagglund’s are not one bit ashamed to say that we LOVE the Hanson Christmas CD. Our Xmas music go-to) But alas, I haven’t actually had that Thanksgiving in 6 years now.

Even though I want nothing more than to have that Thanksgiving morning at home, I am so thankful that it is a memory these days.

For the first 4 Thanksgiving’s I missed, I was out playing volleyball at UW. Every year we had a match the day before and the day after Thanksgiving; we’d practice the morning of, with Jim always calling, “Pilgrims! Come here!” to start it off. UW was such a blessing for me and I am thankful that I played volleyball at that program, got my education there, and lived in Seattle. The friends, relationships, and experiences from those 4 years are untouchable.

Last year’s Thanksgiving I was in Vienna, Austria in my first season as a Professional Volleyball Player. How blessed am I to be able to say that I lived in Vienna for 7 months, being payed to play a game I love? It still doesn’t register to me that I’m a ‘Professional Athlete’ most days. Even with it’s ups and downs (there were plenty), there were so many life lessons I figured out, places I got to see, and new experiences I would NEVER otherwise be exposed to and I am thankful for the good and the not so good that came my way.

And now I’m in Nantes, France. Currently in my second professional season. Still waking up in the morning, and if someone asks me what I do for a living, the first two words I say are “I play…” I’m thankful for my Kristy and Coop, my fellow Americans keeping me sane, as well as the rest of my teammates and staff who only want us to succeed and be happy.

I’m glad that Thanksgiving memory at home is just that: a memory. It means I have been LIVING. So many adventures- new places, new people- I have been blessed to have opportunities to travel and try new things and see the world.

Like I said earlier, being away from friends and family on holidays is tough, but it’s because those people are so loving, so supportive, so precious to me that makes it tough. I am THANKFUL that you all make the holidays hard on me, because missing you would be easy if you all weren’t so amazing.

I hope everyone has a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

We (Coop, Kristy, Kristy’s boyfriend Shawn, and I) celebrated a day early. I made the meat, stuffing, gravy, and some pumpkin pie; Coop whipped up the most unbelievable yams as well as mashed potatoes, and Kristy brought the green bean casserole, some red velvet cake, and of course wine πŸ˜‰ We had a small but amazing feast and celebration together.

Couple funny stories

First, I couldn’t find an actual turkey here in France. I tried the 2 main super markets without luck. So I had a contingency plan. I picked up a turkey leg and some other turkey ‘ball’ (I think it really was the turkey’s butt). I also wanted to grab a small chicken since Coop and Kristy didn’t usually have turkey for Thanksgiving anyways. So I grabbed one from the ‘special offer’ sale section and headed on my way. Little did I realize that I didn’t grab the ‘poulet’ (chicken), but some ‘pintade’… Guinea Fowl! What the heck?! Yeah, well there was no turning back! I told Kristy about my blunder and she says, “Well, are we still gonna eat it?” “Heck yes we’re gonna eat it!!!” It turned out to be a big hit too. Maybe we’ll even buy it again sometime πŸ™‚

So, like I said we ate our large Thanksgiving meal (no one in their right mind wants to and is able to practice self restraint on Thanksgiving) Wednesday evening. Pretty late too, since our practice let out at 8pm. We walk into practice the next morning, still pretty swollen from dinner and what prey tell is our coach setting up? The SCALE. Yes. We were weighed in less than 12 hours after our Thanksgiving meal. That is just cruel and unusual. And ridiculously bad timing!

SHOUT. OUT.

I have some major news to announce…

Drum Roll please….

My not so little brother Nick was just named the A-10 Defensive Player of the Year!!!!

Hagglund A-10 Defensive Player Of The Year, Three On First Team

If you happen to read my blog and don’t know what in the heck I’m talking about, let me clue you in.

My 20-year old brother Nick is a junior center back for Β the Xavier University Men’s Soccer Team. He has been working his booty off for pretty much all his life to be an elite soccer player and he is such a gifted athlete. Not only that, but he has the personality and spirit to really inspire others.

Anyways, Xavier is part of the Atlantic 10 Conference (which is actually made up of 16 teams) and at the end of the year, they name an Offensive, Defensive, and Midfielder Player of the Year, as well as All-Conference teams.

So, yesterday I heard the news from my parents, who found out online. And then somehow I got to be the lucky one to send a CONGRATULATIONS text message, only to get the response, “For what?”

My next text read something like this: You sir, are the DPOY, aka dirty pimp of yore, aka dil pickle on yams, aka dizzy playa of yesterday, aka A-10 Defensive Player of the Year! Okay, so I’m a little strange, but ultimately I just can’t be prouder of Nick. He has worked so hard and SO deserves this honor.

Now, it’s time for the A-10 Tournament. They are back to back reigning champs, and want to make it a 3-peat. They JUST clinched the first rivalry game against Dayton 3-2 in Penalty Kicks. Talk about stress!!! But they’ve got the semifinals tomorrow and hopefully the finals on Sunday.

You can head over to the Atlantic 10 Soccer website hereΒ if you’d like to learn more or even watch their match online! Wish them luck pleaseeee!!! πŸ™‚