Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Dream Come True...

Last night, I sat sweating in sticky 90F+ degree heat, listening to an obnoxious, drunken idiot screaming, and I was incredibly tired. But, I couldn't stop grinning. I might as well have been getting a massage on a Hawaiian beach, as happy as I was. The heat, the idiot - none of it mattered, because last night, I got to see the greatest football club in the world - Manchester United!

My beloved Manchester United continued their North American tour, taking on the MLS team, Philadelphia Union. The match took place at Lincoln Financial Field, because although the Union has recently opened their own stadium, it wasn't large enough to hold all the spectators that attended last night's game.

My husband and I took the big guy, who at six years old, is already crazy for United. We live fairly close to Philadelphia, so we hit the road with the intention of arriving about an hour and a half before kick-off. As Murphy's Law would dictate, on our way there, we were stuck in some pretty awful traffic. As the minutes ticked by, and our car didn't move, I started to get very anxious. I had been counting down to this day for months and I couldn't believe this was happening!

We finally arrived at the field and got to our seats, with maybe 15 minutes to spare...whew! I certainly wish that we had been able to meander a bit and take our time soaking up the atmosphere, but we made it for the most important part and really that was all that mattered.

There were over 44,000 fans filling the stadium. Although the Union is in it's inaugural year, they already have some very dedicated (and vocal) supporters. Their group, Sons of Ben, was out in force, singing and chanting. Even though we were rooting for the other team, it was very encouraging to see that kind of support from Americans for an MLS team.

The match itself was a very fast-paced and exciting one. I don't know if United was playing down a bit, or the club's youngsters were still kind of feeling their way, but the Union definitely held its own. Philly had some great chances - while most were lacking a competent finish, some were only saved by the skill of our keeper, Tomasz Kusczak. United and the Union went to halftime, 0-0.

Finally, in the 76th minute, Gaby Obertan scored a sweet goal, and United was up 1-0. And while the Union continued to press and had one goal disallowed as offside, the game finished with my beloved Manchester United victorious.

As for me, had the Red Devils won or lost, it was an experience that truly left me awestruck. Being able to watch the legendary Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs in action was incredible. Sitting in the stadium while my beloved club was working their magic on the pitch was as compelling as I'd imagined. I can't wait until the day when I finally set foot in Old Trafford. As magnificent as my experience last night was, I know being there will be most extraordinary dream come true of them all.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Boys Are Back!!

They're baaaaaaack!! Millions of fans across the globe have been waiting for this day with bated breath. Since the ninth of May, (67 loooong days!) we Manchester United faithful have been anxiously awaiting the return of our beloved boys to the football pitch.

Of course, in the interim, we have been lucky enough to have a month of international football thanks to the 2010 World Cup. And while that kept us entertained for a while, I am quite sure that any United supporter, if asked, would tell you in no uncertain terms that it just wasn't the same as watching our precious club.

So, today Manchester United begins their pre-season tour of North America in Toronto, Canada against Scottish side, Celtic. I know all of us who love the club have barely quelled elation today and hearts pounding from excitement and, in honor of our treasured team, here's a few recipes to fill your glass as you raise it to those beautiful boys in Red.

Red Army

½ shot Cointreau
2 shots raspberry vodka
½ shot raspberry liqueur
1 shot lime juice
¾ shot sugar syrup
10 raspberries

Fill a cocktail shaker with crushed ice. Add all the ingredients and shake very well. Strain into an ice-filled tumbler and serve garnished with a fresh raspberry.

Big Red
1 oz sweet vermouth
1/4 oz dry vermouth
1/2 oz sloe gin
2 dashes orange bitters

Pour the sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, sloe gin and orange bitters into an old-fashioned glass two-thirds filled with crushed ice. Stir well, garnish with a slice of orange, and serve.

Red Devil Co
1 1/2 oz vodka
1 1/2 oz peach schnapps
1 1/2 oz Southern Comfort
1 1/2 oz sloe gin
2 oz triple sec
2 oz orange juice
1 splash grenadine

Mix alcohols into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Add the juice and grenadine, and shake. Serve in a 10-12 oz. glass.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Five Years and Counting...

Five years ago today, I was living with my husband and the big guy at my parents' house. Our home was being remodeled and expanded, and we were staying with them during the construction. The day started much like any other. We were sitting in the family room, enjoying a little raisin toast, watching the then 18-month-old big guy run around, and following the "Today" show's continuing coverage of the previous week's London bombings.

As we (my mother, husband, son & I) were enjoying the morning, I started to get a ringing in my ears. It was not the normal ringing that everyone gets occasionally. It was so loud, it drowned out everything, the television, my toddler, everything. I started to panic and exclaimed to my husband, "I can't move!!" and indeed, I felt like I couldn't move my arms or legs. However, according to my husband, I was flailing wildly, thrashing all of my limbs about.

My husband called an ambulance and I was taken to the hospital right away. We spent the entire day in the Emergency Room where none of the doctors could figure out what was wrong with me. I was in and out of consciousness while they ran myriad tests. They were reluctant to give me a CT scan to check me out neurologically, because I was too young for that type of ailment. Finally, at the end of the day when the doctors had exhausted all of their options, they scheduled me for a CT scan. Turns out I'd had a stroke with a cerebellar infarction, which had caused a clot in my brain.

I was pretty much out of it as they came to this diagnosis, and my parents were home taking care of my son. The neurologist and the neurosurgeon were at odds on how to treat me. The neurosurgeon took my husband into a utility closet, and basically said to him, "If we don't operate on your wife, she is going to die." My poor husband, he said he immediately wanted to call a 'grown-up' because he didn't know what to do. He decided to sign the consent papers and go ahead with the surgery.

To make a long story short, they put me into a medically-induced coma, performed the surgery to remove part of my cerebellum and I stayed in the ICU for about a week. While this was an excruciating time for my family, I barely remember any of it. The recovery wasn't too bad either. I was in physical therapy for about a month, and then I was released. I have a huge scar from the base of my skull to about half way up my head but that's it. I have absolutely no residual effects.

I would never, ever say I am glad this happened, but I am thankful for the awesome perspective it gave me, and how it demonstrated what is important. My family, friends, health, happiness are really all that matters in this life. It also really taught me that things I thought were so vital, like material possessions or petty jealousies, really aren't worth it.

So, five years later, not only going strong, but almost like my stroke never even happened. I never much thought about the phrase, "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger" until this. I'm happy to say I'm living proof.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Soccer Scorn

"Soccer, my friends, is not American. Why else do you think we lose? Whatever happened to American exceptionalism? When we start taking soccer seriously, it disappears. Am I the only that sees what's going on here? We're tying the rest of the world." --Glenn Beck

Say what? While these comments, (and many, many others by Mr. Beck et al) seem outrageous and preposterous to me, this is not an abnormal view of soccer by Americans. For example, I recently posted a video tribute to the Men's National Team on my Facebook page, and someone commented, "That's great. Now when will we win a cup?" In spite of all the progress soccer has made, and all the hard work our national team has done, there are still so many people out there that scorn the sport. They don't just 'not follow' it -- they actively hate it. Why?

There are so many theories out there on why Americans haven't taken to soccer. Some people find the game slow, not enough goals, they don't understand draws, find the rules confusing and so on. But those 'explanations' don't justify the out-and-out hostility some folks have toward the sport. Nobody ridicules a fan because hockey isn't as mainstream as baseball. Even golf has a level of respect greater than soccer in this country. Mystifying.

Personally, I think people like Mr. Beck, ESPN's Jim Rome and their ilk are so outspoken in their soccer-scorn because they are threatened by it. He basically came out and said so in his quote above -- "exceptionalism." Because you don't automatically come into a sport and kick ass and take names, it's stupid? Because you actually have to compete with the rest of the world, soccer must be communist? Because you actually have to work your way up to be the best and it's not given to you on a red, white, and blue platter, soccer should be mocked?

This is America, of course. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and to make it known (no matter how ludicrous). But these hateful, foolish words about not only a sport, but those other Americans who love it, only demonstrate how out-of-touch these people are. Is it not American to work as hard as you can to achieve the improbable? It's a shame - not only do they misunderstand soccer, but they obviously misunderstand the American dream.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


"You know, that little droid is going to cause me a lot of trouble..." -- Luke Skywalker, Star Wars: A New Hope

I did it! I finally did it! I got a 'smartphone!' After years of hearing others rave about their Blackberries, iPhones, and now Droids, I finally got one! My husband ordered it for me about three weeks ago, but the Incredible was backordered and it didn't arrive until this week.

I was so very excited for this new adventure...I talked about it incessantly to everyone who would listen (special apology to my Twitter friends who probably endured hundreds of tweets on the subject!).

Hurray! I have finally arrived... But in the immortal words of Luke Skywalker, I'm pretty sure that considering I can barely put this little Droid down, it's probably going to get me into some trouble!! :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Everything You Always Wanted to Know...

This post was inspired by a fellow blogger...she tagged me in a post she did revealing some of her life, and I remembered I had recently written "25 Quick Facts about Me" in another forum, so I'd thought I'd share them here...

1.) I could get lost for days in a bookstore.

2.) I honestly enjoy working out very much. I hate running, though.

3.) I am a deeply religious person. But, I don't hit you over the head with it.

4.) My husband is simply one of the best people I know. And I love him as much as I did when he came stumbling into my dorm room, wasted, the first night of college.

5.) There has never been a time in my life that I didn't think I needed to lose at least 5 lbs.

6.) I constantly worry about my sons' health. And their social skills. And their intellect. And whether they will be polite, won't hit, will go to college, etc. Parenthood is by far the hardest job I have ever, or will ever, have.

7.) I kinda want to be British.

8.) I love tweeting!! I was pretty resistant to it at first, but I've met some amazing people through Twitter.

9.) I am most terrified of failing as a parent.

10.) I LOVE television (I know, I know). But I reconcile this fact with the following: a.) for the most part, I dig 'smart' shows like Lost, and I loved Studio 60 and West Wing, and b.) I love to read just as much.

11.) My life is SO not what I'd imagined. Completely different, but infinitely better.

12.) My grandparents were both born in the very early years of the 20th century. I think of them on a daily basis and wonder how they would react to various forms of technology.

13.) I believe that it should be REQUIRED for everyone to watch What Not To Wear, and follow Clinton and Stacey's rules TO THE LETTER.

14.) I often wonder what my boys will be like as men.

15.) My dream vacation would be a trip around the world, capped off by a week in Disney World. There's nothing I would rather do more than travel.

16.) I miss DC (sometimes violently) and especially the people I worked with down there.

17.) I feel that grammar and eloquent speech are of vital importance.

18.) One of the greatest gifts my husband has ever given me is an appreciation and love for soccer and Manchester United.

19.) I dream of writing a novel, if I could just get over myself. And, find the time.

20.) I love being Catholic. Just going to Mass can make me feel better about almost anything.

21.) Looking back, I was a baby when I got married just a month after my 24th birthday. I would NOT change a thing, but I also would strenuously object if either of my boys wanted to get
married that young!

22.) I talk to my mother, my father, and my sister via telephone at least once a day, if not more.

23.) No matter how hard I try, or how closely I follow a recipe, I cannot cook to save my life.

24.) I am a straight-up, unapologetic girly-girl. I was a cheerleader in high school and in a sorority in college. I love hair, make-up, fashion, shoes, handbags, shopping...need I go on? I am convinced God gave me two little boys to offset this a bit.

25.) If you were my friend at any point in time, you're stuck with me for life.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. --John F. Kennedy

Okay, okay, I know I see everything through "soccer-colored glasses." But, on this particular 4th of July there is no better example of what it means to be an American than our Men's National soccer team.

As an American, the ideals I associate with our great country are: Passion. Bravery. Perseverance. Grit. Spirit. We, as Americans, pride ourselves on the fact that we stand up for ourselves, and we love to accomplish the impossible. While Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and the others might not have achieved everything they set out to do, they certainly embodied the American spirit to a tee. Their integrity and honor shows us all how to be the best Americans we can be. Stars and Stripes Forever!