How to recover from over a years absence on this thing? Well, to start, I GOT MARRIED TO THE MAN OF MY DREAMS (this probably deserves its own blogpost, right? More soon...) and finished another memorable year overseas in what is now one my favorite cities in the world; Istanbul. That city, you guys, is one of the most historically rich and beautiful cities Ive ever seen. Those of you who haven’t visited, do yourself a favor and, well, do. Nestled on the Bosphorus sea (a body of water running right down the center of the city splitting the eastern Asian side from the western European side) Istanbul has enough culture and history to make your heart burst. Those of you who have been know what I mean when I say that Bosphorus is literally, magic. The sight of the sea lit up by the bridges come nightfall, the ferry rides that you can take from one side to another while feeding the birds, and all the romantic restaurants nestled on the coast that fill you up with good food and authentic turkish culture at the same time. I could go on and on, but I’ll save it for another post another time. 

Next came summer with my sweet and handsome husband, remodeling our new home which was chaotic yet charming at the same time. Discovering what it meant to be homeowners meant millions of trips to Home Depot, finding paint chips in our hair weeks after the painting job was complete, and spending our money on super exciting stuff like baseboards for a change. Remodel chaos + having two animals (nicknaming ourselves the Hildebrand farm) + two full time jobs that require us to leave the country every month made for some mayhem, but somehow we managed. And we even made time to sneak away for weekends here or there to celebrate things that matter to us. Like JJ’s retirement party in Las Vegas, a last minute trip up to San Francisco to see some of my best friends from college and surprise Leslie at her birthday party!, a weekend trip to the Virgin Islands for Megan’s wedding which was SO MUCH FUN, Palm Springs to golf (I wonder whose idea this was), Corona Del Mar to celebrate our 1 year anniversary cooped up in a bed and breakfast on the coast, Utah for my cousin Whitney’s wedding, and Seattle for Tyler’s sisters new and adorable baby Aubreigh’s baptism. 

One of the best parts about having a home is having a place to stay when family and friends to come visit.... and luckily, we got to see and host lots of our favorite people throughout the summer! A pack of my best friends from college were down in LA for a wedding and stopped by and spent the best day with us in our backyard.... highlight was Sasha and Roark becoming best friends. We had my sister and her kids come stay with us, and the week was full of Disneyland and farmers markets and pool parties and movie nights with the Pattersons, and for those of you who know how much I adore and obsess over those little people, it was the best week ever. Then we got to have my favorite cousin Genna and her husband and stunning little Adelaide come stay, and we got to spend time strolling downtown Seal Beach, and introducing them to Bonzai Bowls (Acai goodness). Then one of my best friends from home Katie Mangus and her husband and their baby beauty Violet came to stay, and that made my heart the happiest! More happiness in our home; we had my little brother Andrew and his girlfriend Julie and one of Ty's best friends from AZ Given come stay for a really fun weekend; the same one we almost adopted a huge Great Dane named Tyson. More of my favorites; Stacy and Shivon came to play for the weekend!! And towards the end of the summer, Tylers wonderful family came out for the Grand Slam beach volleyball tournament in downtown Long Beach! Needless to say, we are remarkably blessed to have so many special friends and family in our lives, and we LOVED spending time with all of them this past summer.  

And USA! Out of all the summers I’ve trained and played for this team, 2013 was one of my favorites, if not my very favorite. Karch Kiraly was named head coach and …. well, what a special thing it is to play for him. Those of you who have ever had a coach that you respect so much you’d do anything for know how we felt when we trained and competed for him and the USA this past summer. We had a lot of people retire after the last Olympics, which meant a lot of new and young faces in the gym… which meant for lots of good laughs about what this person thought this person was like until they met them etc (CJ), and lots of new friendships to be made. I really loved our group this summer. And we kicked ass. We won gold at the Pan am cup (again) and then hosted Japan for a 3 match series in SoCal, and went 3-0. Then we went through Grand Prix winning every match through the three week tournament but 1. Made it to Grand Prix finals and didn’t have the finish we’d hoped for, but learned lessons along the way. Then came NORCECA’s in Nebraska, which we won another gold at, qualifying us for World Grand Champions Cup in Japan later that year. After NORCECA's, we all shipped out overseas to our different clubs all over the world to train for a few weeks, but got to get back together for one last hurrah to battle it out at Grand Champions Cup. We ended up taking silver, and celebrating the end of the summer with the whole group at the rooftop lounge of our hotel by sharing our favorite stories from the summer. All in all, a couple really solid finishes, a #2 world ranking to improve on and defend for summers to come, and the start of building what we want to be about for the next few years leading up to the Olympics in 2016. 

Next came my vida in Brazil. So we’re finally current. As I write this, I’m sitting poolside listening to Ray LaMontange in 90 degree perfection. That, along with a lot of volleyball pretty much sums up my existence here. Before I dive into whats been going on down here in Campinas, I'll cover the country and what I have fallen in love with. In no particular order, fresh fruit (ACAI), the language, the warm weather and even warmer-hearted people, and the incredibly vibrant and colorful culture (sports, carnival, and samba). Signing a contract here was the best decision career wise I’ve ever made. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived, as signing up to live in another country always comes with risk, but what I found here was the most amazing professional situation I could ever ask for.

To start, the brazillian league is probably the best I’ve played in (strongest from top to bottom). And I play for one of the best coaches in the world - Brazillian head women’s national team coach, 3 time gold medalist, and legend Ze Roberto. Before I signed with Amil and my agent told me Ze wanted to sign me, I couldn't believe it. What an opportunity. And the team that Ze formed here is so talented. To summarize, my teammates are a bunch of olympic champions. Sometimes during practice I feel like pinching myself because of the level of volleyball I get to come to the gym and play every day.

What is it like playing for Ze Roberto..... I get asked that question a lot. I love it. He is a remarkable coach with so much knowledge of this game, and I am constantly trying to learn from him and soak it all in. I also get asked what it is like playing in Brazil, and most of my answer revolves around the fact that the people in this country respect and love this game, which makes playing here a really special experience. Training and playing alongside athletes who are as passionate about the game and improving as I am is the biggest breath of fresh air. And the fans!!!! The best, period. The first time I walked into our arena--standing room only--I finally understood how special the volleyball culture here in Brazil really is. 

Amil has taken remarkable care of me.... I kind of love my little life here in Campinas. I have the cutest little apartment in downtown (across the street from a Starbucks! cartwheel), a new Hybrid Honda Civic that even happens to be automatic (that never happens overseas), and the club is just so well run and professional. Its hands down the most well-run club here in Brazil, and probably one of the best in the world. One of the things that makes Amil special is that we have people on staff for everything an athlete needs to perform at their best; 2 physical therapists to take care of our bodies (without them I’d be in pieces), 2 strength coaches who take us through our weightlifting and specialized pilates programs, 2 nutritionists who shower us with goodies before during and after training (acai popsicles, fresh fruits and yogurts and recovery drinks), a massage therapist, 4 guys who are paid just to practice against us so we have a more challenging B side, 1 statistics dude, a doctor, a psychologist, 3 coaches, and 2 managers who head it all up and keep it running smoothly. Those are just the people at practice every day. Then there are the others that are working full-time for our team behind the scenes on marketing etc. All in all, so many people working hard to make Amil the best it can be. It really is an extraordinary thing they are doing here in Campinas with this team. 

With just a few losses during regular season, our team finished 2nd behind Molico. Playoffs started last week and we won out through quarters and are waiting to play semis next week. I think we’ve got a good shot at winning it all, which is pretty exciting. And my gosh my teammates are the best. I love them so much. Love them like my kids are going to have brazillian aunties who teach them to samba on Skype as soon as they can walk. Honestly that's one of the biggest blessings of playing overseas and living this crazy life; meeting and making lasting connections with people from all over the world. It's incredible when I think about all the amazing people I’ve met and will forever be connected in heart to because of this sport.  

Other things that have been the highlight of this year -off the volleyball court- was having Tyler here in Brazil with me (getting to explore Rio de Janeiro together) and then flying home to spend Christmas with both our families which was super special..... and then in March, getting to see and experience the infamous carnival in Rio that Brazil celebrates every year with my fancy friend Kim Glass. Definitely bucket list material. 

If you’ve made it this far, you rock. Thanks for taking interest in my nomadic wanderings. Now its time to focus up for semi finals, win the championship, and come HOME.

Oh and here is my life - since I last wrote - in photos. xo

the magic Bosphorus sea. Istanbul. 

private yacht cruise down the Bosphorus with Ty
Christmas 2012 in Venice with my love

Elder Richards, so proud of you
Christmas skype with Taylor!!!!!

VENICE, christmas 2012
NEW YEARS 2013 Istanbul, best crew
hot air ballooning with my bffs who came to visit me in Turkey! bucket list!!!! 

Istanbul diaries - so many good memories with these girls

Sasha and her bff Roark. same height. 

Adelaide loves 
meeting little Logan for the first time. so precious. 
surprising Leslie at her bday party 

HB farmers market with Peach and crew

                                                        Jens retirement party in Las Vegas!
long legged USA volley babes - so many solid summer afternoons with these girls

Katieeeeeeeeeee come play more often

Stacy and girls only gang
little bro and Julie and Given in town! 

celebrating Megan and her husband, such a special weekend

Virgin Islands - don't make us leaveeee pic
Long Beach for the Grand Slam with Ty and the whole Hildebrand gang
paint color shopping with pops
remodel madness. (master bedroom)
painting partyyyyy

selfies with my favorite little person - Utah for the weekend!

the beautiful bride, my cousin Whitney

spending some time with mom with my loves

grandma Cheryl, Denise and Tyler getting little Aubreigh ready for her baptism 
worlds cutest niece - and worlds cutest uncle if you ask me
USA - grand prix 2013

my fancy apartment - Campinas, Brazil 

some of the Amil crew - love these people
our AMAZING arena here in Campinas


a really special christmas eve/christmas morning with the Hildebrands. so much love
home in Utah with my family. heart is happy.

my best friend here in Brazil, Michelle. lifelong friend 

CARNIVAL with Kim, stunning weekend in Rio de Janeiro 


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