Saturday, March 31, 2012

Never Too Old to Learn Guitar

A has been taking guitar lessons for several years, and she’s fairly competent at it. This is not just my opinion, but one expressed by both of her teachers. The problem is, she suffers a bit from having some ability because it gives her confidence (which is a great thing) and makes certain things come easy to her (also a great thing). However, this also makes her confident to the point where she doesn’t apply herself as much as she should, which is not such a great thing. In other words, she doesn’t practice her guitar as much as she could or should, and things like that can come back to haunt you. I’ve become a firm believer that hard work and dedication will get you further in life than natural talent, and this is a lesson I’m hoping to instill in our kids, as well as myself.

With this in mind, I’d like to get A to practice more. There are two aspect to this problem. First off, she usually doesn’t have to practice her music until the day before or the day of her lesson. This is not a good way to learn. Secondly, she does not go back and practice material she’s learned way back when. This is also not an ideal situation.

So, I came up with a plan, which I’ve hatched in the past but let it slide, so the ball is in my court on this one. My plan is to learn guitar myself, and have A teach it to me. We can start with her early lesson plans and she can teach me the songs and chords. This way, I get some basic lessons, and she can review the stuff that she no longer practices. How’s that for a plan? It’s a win-win situation, if I can stick to my guns, which isn’t always easy.

Then again, nobody said parenting was easy. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to idit.biton for the pic.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Playing With Fire

We rekindled our fire pit (no pun intended) the other day, and it’s been nice having small bonfires in the backyard, though it’s been a bit dry and windy, so we are wary of the weather. When we first got it going, there was still snow on the ground, but we haven’t had much in the way of rain, so we make sure to keep it small and watch it at all times.

A&N have been having a blast with it, and it’s a great way for them to be outside while I rake leaves or split wood. Plus, it lets them scratch that pyromaniac itch that all kids have under safer, more controlled conditions that I can oversee, rather than play with matches while mom and dad are away. This is what I did as a kid, and we set the hill across the street from our house on fire. Talk about scary.

Anyway, we were having so much fun that before we knew it, it was supper time. The kids told R to come check out their cool fire, and then she had the inspiration to roast hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire. Say no more, we need little in the way of encouragement when it comes to cooking over the open fire. R and A went to the store and got the goods, and we had supper in the backyard, followed by marshmallows for sweeties. Not my ideal dessert, but I wasn’t going to be a wet blanket, and when in Rome...

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to poniax3 for the pic.

Captain Underpants to the Rescue

Sure, it isn’t War and Peace, but N has been doing a lot more independent reading, and the current book of choice is Captain Underpants. Truth be told, A, who is a voracious reader, started reading them early on. The key is that N is able to sit and focus on a book for long periods of time, which is priceless from a parental POV.

When kids can entertain themselves without parental participation or the use of video games or TV, it really stokes their imagination and will only help them later in life. Plus, in addition to the enormous amount of information that a child can derive from reading, I’m convinced that activities like reading and doing math wire the brain in a way that helps them deal with conceptual and abstract thinking. Then again, that’s just my bias, but I’m sticking with it.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to chingek70 for the pic.

Track and Field

A’s buddy is going to run track, and I asked A if she had any interest. She initially said no way, but when I explained that track involves more than just distance running, she became a little more interested. She’s always saying she’s more of a sprinter, and if anything, distance running is a completely different program (track vs. cross country).

The only reason I inquired is because she’s a decent runner in terms of speed. In fact, the other day they were playing tag, and she was “it,” and one of the boys was running away from her and she caught him, no problem. She’s a bit of a speedster, and it might be a fun activity for her. Plus, since hockey is what life is all about, it would help her stay fit for the season next fall. You can never plan too much for hockey, right?

We’ll see where this goes, stay tuned for more. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to CameraGirlUSA for the pic.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Karate Girl With Her Deadly Weapons

We finally made it back to karate on Monday after about a three week hiatus. During that time I was hoping to get a lot of practice in but failed miserably at that goal. I hate when that happens, but such is life. Either way, it was nice to be back, and we got to work out with Master H, who wants to have a test in the coming months. That means A will test for her purple belt, and I will go for my second brown, which is one step removed from a black belt. Yikes!

It was a small class, but the students that were there were the enthusiastic ones, so it made for a fun class. Master H worked with A on teaching her the sai kata, and we spent the class focusing on teaching the newer students the early katas. I worked with the youngest kid in the class, who is about 7, and let me tell you, it ain’t easy teaching really young kids things. Nothing seems to stick, and they lose patience immediatly. At some point you realize that whatever you tell them goes out the other ear. I experienced this coaching t-ball, as well. Kids shouldn’t start organized sports until they’re older, in my opinion.

I regret not having practiced more, and will work on that aspect of my discipline. Plus, the less experienced students that we are getting are enthusiastic and work hard, and are worthy sparring opponents, to boot. I feel I need to be better prepared when I get in the ring with them, so hopefully that’ll motivate me to practice more and get into shape.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Track and Field

A’s buddy is going to run track, and I asked A if she had any interest. She initially said no way, but when I explained that track involves more than just distance running, she became a little more interested. She’s always saying she’s more of a sprinter, and if anything, distance running is a completely different program (track vs. cross country).

The only reason I inquired is because she’s a decent runner in terms of speed. In fact, the other day they were playing tag, and she was “it,” and one of the boys was running away from her and she caught him, no problem. She’s a bit of a speedster, and it might be a fun activity for her. Plus, since hockey is what life is all about, it would help her stay fit for the season next fall. You can never plan too much for hockey, right?

We’ll see where this goes, stay tuned for more. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to CameraGirlUSA for the pic.

Juggling Lots of Things This Weekend

Last weekend was a little nuts, faintly redolent of hockey season because the activities not only took up our entire weekend, but included hockey, as well. What exactly have I gotten us into? A had two shows at school on Friday and Saturday each, and she was there literally from morning until night. She had to miss her hockey game as a result. We went to both nights of shows, which meant late nights both days.

On Sunday, there were no more shows, but both A&N had hockey, which meant a family outing at the rink. It felt like hockey season never went away! After the games, we went into the big city and had supper at Boloco, then went home for a much needed rest.

That is, of course, until the next big adventure. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Freek van den Bergh for the pic.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Getting Ready for Spring

It seems like the last few weeks have been a marathon, and now that it’s over, we can start thinking about cruising into summer. Then again, we still have spring activities to consider, including the chorus and possibly spring sports.

The kids were initially up for doing tennis, but on further reflection, I’m not sure if we’re going to do it. Have to check in with CH and DE, but I think it might be better to just play on the home court in town. Also, if A does track and N does lacrosse, we won’t have time. Plus, they both will want to go golfing, which is a complete time drain and pretty much burns an entire day, not to mention the entire contents of my wallet.

If it’s a warm, and the recent warm weather portends a warm summer, then we’ll do lots of swimming, though the kids always want to go to the dam, and I personally don’t like the water there. N has been showing some interest in soccer, I think he’d be good at it, but whenever I ask, I get a big NO, which is fine. A also has karate, and she’ll be testing for her purple belt this time around.

With hockey cooling off (yeah, right), the kids can focus more on guitar/piano/drums. Now that N has his snare drum, he’s got more to work with, and I think his teacher said she has a drum set he can borrow. Talk about noisy. A also has her upcoming choral performance, for which she’s excited. Also, her guitar teacher arranges performances for his students, and she might get to do a solo if she’s inspired.

Finally, in what is truly a moment to celebrate, the ice will return to Union Arena during the summer and life can once again commence in a normal manner, because that means the return of hockey (pause until cheering subsides). How cool is that?

Then again, there are some who think I need to seek professional help. To them I would ask, "It's taken you that long to figure that out?"

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to davidyuweb for the pic.

Symbolic End to Winter

This may seem like old news, but we’ve finally accepted the fact that winter is over and done. As a testament to this, we put all of our skiing equipment into the basement, and let me tell you, for a family of four, complete sets of Alpine and Nordic ski equipment can sure take up a lot of space (that doesn't include boots). Throw in three snowboard and boots, and we need a small warehouse to keep all this stuff. We didn’t even really get to use it.

It still amazes me when we fit all that stuff in the mud room, and this really comes to light when we remove it. Suddenly our mud room looks like Versailles. Heck, we could throw a party in there, there’s so much space.

While I’m sad that we didn’t get to ski that much this winter, it is nice looking forward to spring, and putting all the winter gear away really is a symbolic end to winter.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Theater Weekend

We went to opening night of A’s big show, and it was a lot of fun. Tons of people were there, it’s sort of the thing to do on a Friday night. Small town life, you gotta love it. The show was great, in a charming, school kid kind of way. They worked so hard on the production, putting in some serious hours before and during the show. Some of the performers were right on, as well. Great voices and stage presence, not an easy thing. You really see the differences in acting ability showing up.

We didn’t really have a plan for the weekend other than attending Saturday’s show. It was serious business, with pre-orders for reserved seats. At first we thought we’d only go to the Saturday evening show, but then we decided that we should go to both evening shows, and got general admission seats for Friday. I think we were the last people to get in the door, and just squeaked in. We sat in the back in the bleachers. On Saturday, we had killer seats in the second row.

Now I don’t know what A’s long term thoughts are about the stage, but she does a nice job, and several people came up to us and complimented her on her acting, which is standard parenting banter. However, in a more telling moment, while we were watching the end of the performance, the actors came out and did their bows, and I could hear a mother whispering to her friend, pointing out A and commenting on how good she was in the show. She didn’t know that A’s parents were sitting right in front of her.

Also, being the totally objective observer that I am, I have to admit, she does do a nice job, and at the very least, tries her best. She has the ability to deliver her lines in a natural tone and cadence, so that she doesn’t sound as if she’s reading it off a monitor or script. There is a lot of that in a school play. Also, unlike a lot of kids, she does a great job of projecting her voice and articulating.

She said she had fun, and I’m guessing she’ll want to do more next year, but you never know. She was part of the younger group in the play, so in the future, she may get bigger roles, though I’m not sure if that’s the goal for her. We’ll see.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to eruzunmehmet for the pic.

Hearing From My Brother

This past birthday for A, I actually heard from my brother, though once again, my mom blew us off. Not sure what’s going on in her head (not sure I want to know), but maybe some things are better left to the unknown.

Now I think this may be the first time he’s sent A a birthday greeting in about 6 or 7 years, he definitely was out of touch, so much so that when the box arrived, I was surprised. Pleasantly surprised. Best of all, he remembered N, as well, which is key. What was also nice was that the their cousin T was involved, and I think it would be nice for them to be friends.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to smileham for the pic.

Getting To Be A Big (and fashionable) Girl

This is too crazy for me to even comprehend, but A is really getting to be a big girl. Now that she has her ears pierced and is so fashionably inclined, she looks so mature. In fact, when I went to pick her up from school, I almost didn’t recognize her with her hair up and all the clothes and accessories. Also, since she’s in the play, they put makeup on her for her part, so that made her look more mature, as well.

Crazy how kids grow up. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to jijis for the pic.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Channeling My Inner Martha Stewart

This past week, A was in the school musical, and because it really takes a village to put on a show like this, parents were asked to help out. Of course, they came out in droves, and we jumped into the fray (always happy to help out). In addition to helping watch over the kids and prevent them from being too unruly, we also volunteered to make cupcakes for the bake sale. What would Martha have said?

The day was promising to be a crazy one, because as usual, we had many things on our plate. No hockey, however, which is a bummer for me personally, but hey, you can’t have it all, right?

Now I’ve mentioned this in the past, but the drama schedule was pretty hectic. They worked all winter, and then as the show approached, they started rehearsing every day and then did 5-6 hour days. Hardcore. On the days of the show, they were there for upwards of 8 hours! This, however, simplified things for me, because all I had to do was prepare a lunch, drop her off, and then be back for showtime.

During our 8 hours of free time, we had things to do. First off, we had to get the baking done, because that was a priority. There was the standard 5 loaves of flax/raisin bread that R and I eat every day, then we had to make cupcakes, the more the better. We only have one cupcake pan, so it slows things up considerably. We ended up making about 40 of them, which we left to cool with the bread. We also (I use the term “we” liberally) had to have supper ready because by the time we got home, we had to eat and then go to the show.

It was also really warm, so we couldn’t eat winter food like soup or stew, so we made a warm weather dish, pasta with garlic/anchovy sauce. It’s interesting, but we are a family of anchovy lovers. Not too many kids like salty fishy-fish, and I attribute our kids love for it to all the traveling they’ve done.

Anyway, once the food was ready, we had to jet over to LaValley’s to do real man’s work. We are in the process of finishing the barn, and need to get doorknobs, but as I’ve mentioned, the number of choices is overwhelming at Home Depot. I decided to try LaValley’s, instead, and it seemed to work out better. H was there, and he’s the nicest, most helpful guy there. I made some selections, he wrote up the order, and all I needed was R’s seal of approval.

Since we were in W. Leb, we noticed that the driving range was open, so we couldn’t pass up the chance to hit a few golf balls. We got a large bucket and N and I had a blast. I’m not a big golfer (I just play one on TV), but I sure do enjoy going to the driving range. Plus, I get a huge kick out of watching N swinging away. We saw his old coach there, and he gave us a quick refresher course to help our game.

After all that, we headed home but still had to decorate the cupcakes. For this, we needed powdered sugar, so we stopped at the market, got the sugar, made the frosting, and decorated. By then, mom got home, we ate supper, then jetted over to the school to see A perform. We were late, in fact, I think we were the last ones in the door, and ended up sitting way back in the rafters. This wasn’t a big deal, because we had killer, second row seats for Saturday’s show.

We got home really late, but it was a long but fun day, and it’s always nice to channel your inner Martha Stewart now and then, especially when it’s juxtaposed with real man’s work like building a barn. Besides, even though real men might disparage domestic work like cooking, baking and child-rearing, I’ll tell you this - it’s hard work. Hard enough to bring a real man to his knees. I’ve seen this firsthand, so give Martha some credit, except, of course, in the child-rearing department.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to miniature.rhino for the pic.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Year ‘Round?

I realize that it may be difficult for the kids to play hockey year ‘round (maybe even undesirable), but in the interest of playing game, at least for our kids, it all boils down to getting ice time and practicing the game. It ain’t easy playing catch up, but as long as you’re having fun doing it, why not?

With this in mind, I was thinking that even if you can’t play all year, you can get close. Close enough, at least. The season ends at the beginning of March, but you can do spring hockey until April. Then it’s lights out for ice time. In June, the ice returns and there is hockey for a couple of months, then it goes away in July/August. By September, the ice returns again, and then by October, you’re back in the swing of things.

You can’t skate every month, but you can get pretty close. Close enough to where you can dabble in other things, get some balance in life, then just when you’ve gotten hockey out of your system, you can jump back in. How cool is that?

This should be an interesting year. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Bl@ck Coffee for the pic.

Snow and Summer Tires

I went to get our summer tires put on, and usually it’s a pain because it’s not only a bit costly, but the place we go to, Interstate Tires, doesn’t take appointments. It’s first come, first served, and during peak season you can wait for hours if you don’t get there early. I could have made an appointment with our mechanic, which in retrospect I should have done because I realize I’m not really saving any money, but it also takes about a week to get in, and I wanted to get those tires changed.

The goal here is to maximize fuel efficiency and prolong the life of those darn snow tires, which are expensive. The snow wasn’t bad this year, anyway, though the mud has been terrible.

Interstate opens at 8:00, and I usually shoot to get there around 7:30 to be in the top three in line. This ensures that I can get out in about 30 minutes and home in time for R to go to work. Well, if you can believe this, I got there and read my book, and by the time they opened, I was the only person there. I was shocked. I guess people have already dealt with their tires, or they wait until the end of March, even though there’s no snow. I know a lot of people who do their snow tires on a tight schedule, regardless of the conditions. Snow tires on by Nov. 1, off by Apr. 1, no questions asked.

It makes life simpler, if not a bit rigid and predictable. Such is life. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to www.ericcastro.biz for the pic.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Acting Life

Boy, the theater class at the school is pretty hardcore, even by a hockey parent’s standards, and nobody is more hardcore than a hockey parent. Since A moved up to the big kid’s production (ages 10-14), things are no longer just fun and games, and they have been putting in some serious hours.

First off, unlike the little kid’s play, they had to audition for parts. Second, there are songs, solos, and choreography. Clearly we’ve moved into the big-time. Lastly, now that the actual performance is looming on the horizon, they have been there for hours on end. I think she’s having fun, it’s probably nice to get away from her annoying dad for long stretches.

I have to confess, I was little surprised at the time they’re putting in, and at first, A was disappointed at having to miss hockey because of the play. I’m guessing part of her would have rather played hockey, but another part of her likes her drama buddies. Besides, we have to honor prior obligations, even when better ones come along after the fact.

The past few days have been a bit grueling, with the kids putting in 5-hour days. I’m impressed, but again, they’re having fun. It’s their show, after all. The crazy thing is, once the show is over, A has her choir, and they’ll be performing a spring show. Factor in spring hockey, as well as guitar and piano, and the fun never stops.

The question is who exactly is having fun here? Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Bahman Farzad for the pic.

Green Ice and Ham

Talk about a sad goodbye, we did our final skate over at UA, and there was a pretty good turnout. They had turned the ice green for their big tournament, and it was time to melt it and prepare for the spring/summer season. Before they melted the ice, however, they had one last hurrah, with free skating. How could we pass that up? A&N wanted to skate on the green ice, as well.

I wasn’t sure who was going to show, and almost dreaded being the only ones on the ice, but there was a pretty good turnout. A bunch of the kids’ friends were there, and R got to get more practice on her ice skates, leaving me to practice some of my own ice skating issues.

We had fun, and as much as I’ll miss hockey and skating, it’s nice to have other things going on in our lives, including SPRING CHORES and YARDWORK! Oh yeah, and let’s not forget about building a barn. How can you not love that?

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Duckingham for the pic.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wary of Warm Spring Weather

I think I’m the only person around here who is wary of the recent beautiful weather. I hate to be a wet blanket, but come on, 70 degrees in March? While everyone around me is raving about how warm and wonderful the weather is, I sit and worry about how bad summer is going to be. How’s that for cynical? Part of this wariness stems from the mild winter we had. There was no snow, and while most people celebrated this fact, I was bummed. I love the snow, not just because I’m a skier, but because it really changes the landscape and makes the season feel magical. We had none of this. When there’s no snow, everything looks a little drab and dreary.

Besides, I figured the lack of snow would temper the mud season, but thus far it’s been horrible. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always nice to welcome spring, no question about it, but I would think more reasonable weather would portend a more reasonable summer. Who knows what the weather will be like come July.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to NixBC for the pic.

Not Over Yet

Just when you thought it was safe to leave the house, we have even more hockey. Can you believe it? Of course, I’m happy about it, especially in light of the fact that during some of the skating sessions, parents are encouraged to join in. Don’t ask me why, but that’s what the instructor told me. He alluded to how the kids love to see their parents falling on the ice, and I can confirm this fact based on firsthand experience.

The beauty of it all is that I can still get some skating in, and I think A&N will benefit from the low-stress ice time. I know he’s excited about it, and I think it’s a good chance for he and his sister to get a little crazy on the ice. Good for long term hockey development.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Johnny for the pic.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

So Lonely

We had our final open stick at Union Arena. I was all set to give it one last hurrah, I was looking forward to it, and nobody else showed up. What a bummer. I usually try to get there a bit early to get as much ice time as possible before we play. I warmed up and then did some puck handling drills, but at some point as 7:30 rolled around, nobody else appeared. I kept skating, and eventually some high school girls showed up to practice (they were really good), but none of the regular crew.

Talks about disappointment, I was crushed. My final stint on the ice, and it was just not meant to be. Oh well, I still got to skate and practice my shot, but it wasn’t quit the same. I was looking forward to playing a game, but it looks like I’ll have to wait until next season.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Ghetu Daniel for the pic.

Drummer Boy

This only took half a year, but we finally scored a drum for N, and I found it, of all places, on CraigsList. Can you believe it? I know there are tons of things for sale on that site, but this one was being sold in town, about a 5 minute drive from our house. I was so stoked.

Now N’s drum teacher has said on a number of occasions that he’s ready for a real drum. The drum pad only gets you so far, and she said he would benefit from feeling the sticks hit a real drum since he’s clearly learning how to play. Say no more. Time for dad to go on yet another neurotic quest to fill a need and find a bargain at the same time.

Now we could have simply gone to Blue Mountain and picked up a new snare drum for about $100, but even his teacher said you can find used ones for a fraction of the price. I started scouring the classifieds and asking around, but after months, no such luck. Also, in typical N fashion, he didn’t want to be a burden and casually said he didn’t need an actual drum. He thought it would be too noisy and was fine just using the drum pad. I know he was just trying to be nice about it, which I’ll explain later.

It was bit of a chore finding a drum, but I finally found one on Craigslist, and the guy was in our town. It took some doing to coordinate times, but I finally got over there and we closed the deal. I didn’t know it at the time, but the drum came with the stand, as well. Hallelujah! That saved us another $50-60.

Now as I mentioned, N was reluctant to get a new drum, which I felt was him being accommodating, but when he saw the drum, he was thrilled and immediately started playing it. Afterward, I asked him how he liked his drum, to which he replied, “Awesome!” Say no more. As a parent, you really have to become adept at recognizing the difference between what is said and what is meant.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mud Season

I figured with the paltry amount of snow that we’d gotten this winter, mud season wouldn’t be so bad, but so far that has not been the case. If anything, it’s really bad out there. Now mud season is a drag no matter what, but for whatever reason, I get the sense that it’s about as bad as I’ve seen it. What’s crazy is that we’ve been having warm weather, so you’d think the snow would melt and evaporate, but I realize there are other factors to consider, including the ground thawing. Plus, the way I understand it, the mud won’t go away until the leaves come. That’s when the water soaking the ground gets taken up by the trees. Cool fact.

Either way, it makes it a challenge to drive, even just down our driveway. Our road is getting pretty bad, and driving around the area’s dirt roads can be a nightmare. Hopefully the town will do something about it soon, but for now, I’d just as soon just stay home and not have to drive.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to redjar for the pic.

Friday, March 16, 2012

It’s the Little Things in Life

The other weekend day, way back when we had a nice snowfall, which for the record is exacerbating our mud season woes, our friends the Hs came by when we weren’t home. We were out and about and came home and noticed that there were XC ski tracks all over our front yard. We figured someone had gotten lost on the trails, which go right through out front yard, and thought nothing more of it.

The next morning, I noticed on the windshield of our car a note had been written in the snow saying that HA&IH had stopped by but missed us. Kind of a cool moment, and I’m glad I noticed it, because it was getting warm and the snow was melting. I pointed it out to A&N, and they got a kick out of it.

I know it’s no big deal, but it’s nice to know you have friends out there, something you should never take for granted.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Vilhelmg for the pic.

The Fun Never Stops

Even though her birthday has passed, the gifts seem to keep coming, which of course thrills A to pieces. I ordered her a wheeled bag but waited a bit too long and it didn’t arrive until after her birthday. Bad planning. Nonetheless, I’ve found it works out well when they don’t open all their presents on one day, kind of like the Hanukah effect. Spreading them out over several days works out much better, and I think the kids don’t go through that devastating crash that always seems to follow a gift opening frenzy. Plus, they don’t tear through each gift and toss it aside, like we see during Christmas.

With this in mind, the fun seems to keep on happening. It was a nice stretch of fun over her birthday, and in a certain ways, we as parents got lucky. Part of that luck stems from having a great circle of friends.

In addition to the celebrations and presents, a couple of days after the fact, she finally got her bag, which was exciting. She also received her sais for karate, as well as a got a gift from her cousin in California, which was a pleasant surprise. The fun just never stops, but we all knew that, right?

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Team Banquet

With the season at an end, N’s team had their year-end banquet, and it was a blast. The kids had so much fun, of course they didn’t want to leave, and as usual, we were some of the last people to leave. I was beat, but happy that everyone had fun.

The complication to the matter was that we had many things going on, and R had to work and was going to be late. During the day, A had rehearsal for the school play, and N had his spring hockey practice... yes, it’s not over yet (whew!). There were many time conflicts, and we were not only going to have to juggle appointments, but we were going to be late. Bummer.

To get the day started off to a bang, I had a dentist appointment in the AM, for which I had to drag the kids along. I feel bad, but there was little choice in the matter, and it’s not the end of the world for them to sit the waiting room for half an hour. It teaches them to be patient and find ways to entertain themselves. Believe me, in a world filled with constant distraction via TV and computers, this is an invaluable lesson to help them retain sound mental health as they get older. We as a culture seem to have forgotten how to sit quietly in our own heads, and feel the need to be constantly entertained.

Anyway, I digress (what else is new?). When I came out of the appointment, I could see that at least N was fairly bored, but to his credit, he never once whined or complained. What a great kid. We jetted home, I made them lunch, squeezed in some school work, and then carted A off to her rehearsal over at the school. N’s hockey coincided with rehearsal, so right after we headed over to the ice rink and got him all geared up. They had a Dave Reece skating clinic and N got to take part, for which I’m glad. I’ve seen these classes and thought both A&N would benefit from a little instruction and challenge, especially for something they love to do. I think it encourages them to try new things on skates, and even get a little daring.

Now since we were across town for hockey, we were going to be late to get A, which in turn was going to make us late for the banquet. I arranged for A to go to a friend’s house after rehearsal, and believe me when I tell you that it was a challenge just getting over there. The mud was unbelievable, and at certain points I was convinced that we were going to get stuck. I didn’t think mud season would be so bad because we had so little snow, but no such luck.

We picked up A and then headed over to Pomfret for the soiree. Much thanks to T&JG for hosting, and to KM for arranging. We got there a little late and the kids were already running about, but what was really nice was when we arrived, a group of the boys ran over to the car and filled N in on what was going on, and within seconds he was off and running with them. I think some sort of boys vs. girls thing was going on, so A ran over to the girls and assumed her position in the ranks.

That left me to head in and hang out with the grown ups. Everyone was mingling in the kitchen, and food was aplenty. Not imbibing in alcohol, which was always my go-to mechanism at parties, I dove into the food. There was some killer stuff, and it was nice seeing all the parents outside the hockey rink, though large groups of people still give me a little social anxiety (thus the need for a social lubricant, i.e., cocktails).

The party was nice, very manageable, and speeches were made, appreciation was expressed, and overall I think it was a really nice time. R got there really late, but with plenty of time to say her hellos and hang with G&JG, whom we think are really cool folks. In fact, I think R and J might try to connect with their respective gigs.

It was getting late, and by the time most people had already left, we were still trying to pry our kids away. In retrospect, we should have left them there and picked them up a few days later... just kidding. For the record, they would have preferred this option.

All in all, it was a really nice party, and everyone had a great time. We hope to see everyone a lot over the summer, and hope it won’t take the beginning of the hockey season to reconnect. That would be a bummer.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to HerryLawford for the pic.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

More Birthday Fun

We got to do more celebrating of A’s birthday after the weekend, and I think she really enjoys having friends over and doing the sleepover gig. N is still into tagging along, though he’s starting to grumble a little about having to hang with the girls, and he even expresses his disdain to their faces. How’s that for courageous? I’ve told him in the past that at some point he may not want to hang out when it’s just girls, at least until he’s a teenager, then it’ll be a dream come true. Either way, he still has fun with it, and we figure we might as well let him enjoy the ride. Besides, if he can hang with girls at this age, it’ll mean he can relate to them better when his interest in girls becomes more complicated. Right now, that scenario is hard to envision.

A had her buddies over for a sleepover because it happened to work out logistically. For whatever reason, there was no school the next day, and they got our early the day before. So, they came over after A’s rehearsal, we had pizza and then they hung out and watched movies until midnight. Talk about a long night. I think they went to bed after me.

R got her a chocolate mousse cake from Lou’s, my absolute favorite, and we pigged out after supper. I’m cutting back on my sugar consumption, and have been limiting myself to only dark chocolate, but I couldn’t resist eating the cake. It’s amazing stuff, and I had seconds. I was waiting to go into glycemic shock, but for whatever reason, I didn’t feel that bad. Go figure. I should have had a third piece.

It was a fun day/night, and it’s still not over. We’re currently bowling and then we’re supposed to do laser tag, and then after that, over to Hanover for gelato. R and I have been a bit concerned by the amount of junk food that we’ve been eating, but we figure it’s once a year, and the key is to cram in fresh fruit and veggies as well.

So far so good, though the day isn’t over, yet.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to freakgirl for the pic.

Burning Out?

A couple of days ago, I thought one of my biggest nightmares was coming to fruition, and that was our kids burning out on hockey. Not so much because I love hockey (I do), but more so because I think it’s a great sport for our kids and this whole hockey endeavor is about working hard, meeting a challenge, and not giving up, not to mention meeting new friends.

Now I know I’ve mentioned this to the point where it makes people want to throw up, but this is N’s first year playing hockey, and he’s at a disadvantage in the sense that most, if not all, of his teammates in that everyone else has at least one year under their belt, some with several. It’s all about ice time, the more he can get, the better.

The only problem is, too much ice time could lead to burn out, and we had a glimpse of that the other day. The truth is, we were partly, if not wholly, to blame. I had LTP that morning, and R brought the kids over for kid’s open stick, which lasted for about two hours. Then, N also had practice that night. It was too much. Sure, I could have skated all day, but at some point N said he didn’t want to go to practice. Yikes! That was a first.

I didn’t want to force him, but he is also prone to saying things out of anticipation rather than experience. I told him the season was about to end, and soon it would be all over so he should consider going to practice. He didn’t argue, and I left it at that. I figure a few hours of cooling down would do him some good.

By late afternoon, when it was time to go, he had regained his enthusiasm, and went to practice and he had a great time. It reminded me, however, that I can’t push the agenda too hard. Sure, he benefits from experience, but the key is having fun, and once that’s missing, what’s the point?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to blu X graphics for the pic.

Hitting the Trails

A few days back, we finally got some snow and took advantage of it and hit the trails. The weather was perfect, not too cold or hot, and we had a blast. It’s nice to have at least one day XC skiing because the conditions have been awful all winter, though I still think there’s hope for this Alpine season.

It felt weird to be on XC skis, though all this skating and hockey has kept us in reasonably good shape. We did the big loop in the meadow, and then we got home and had tea and cookies. It was one of those nice cool days (outside) spent inside by the wood burning stove together. Throw in a nap, and dad’s a happy camper. An important condition to being able to spend a nice day like this is that there is no hockey, but it just goes to show you that you can’t have it all.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Happy Hockey Birthday

We got to celebrate A's birthday this past weekend, and it worked out nicely, even though we sort of lagged on proper planning. Some of this stemmed from a reluctance to make such a huge issue out of it all, while another factor was a constantly changing wish list/agenda. A few months back, she wanted to have a big party, which I for one was sort of dreading. I'm not a party person (I just play one on TV), and all the organizing, not to mention entertaining and oversight, gives me a lot of anxiety. However, if that was her wish, we were prepared to take the plunge.

Another plan that came up was having a big sleepover complete with laser tag/bowling. Again, it involved planning a party, which we were prepared to do. However, as the big day approached, it became clear that the weekend was going to be complicated by none other than... you guessed, hockey. The fortunate aspect of this is that both kids are currently bonkers over hockey, so it wasn't a big problem, but now we had to come up with a different plan.

Saturday was going to be tough because A her final hockey practice, where all the parents were going to take part, and right after that, she had play rehearsal for the school play, which would end late in the afternoon. A sleepover on Saturday was complicated by N's tournament early in the AM on Sunday, plus her best friend was away that weekend. We finally decided to have her birthday sleepover on Monday, leaving the weekend open for hockey and other fun stuff.

We did, however, want to have some sort of little bash over the weekend, especially on her big day. I initially spoke to coach GG about it, and he was somewhat non-committal about it, so we were left trying to formulate a plan. We did get a thumbs up to bring cupcakes to the rehearsal on the condition that they eat them after rehearsal was over, so we had that going.

Anyway, it turns out that GG's wife, JG, was planning on bringing cupcakes for A, which I thought was amazingly nice and thoughtful, but they're amazingly nice and thoughtful people. After the practice, they had pizza and cupcakes, so it was a nice celebration, even though, much to N's chagrin, we had to jet out of there and get her to play rehearsal. At the end of rehearsal, we brought cupcakes only to be scolded for making a mess in the lobby of the school. Our bad, they clean up on Friday and any mess over the weekend gets the drama department in trouble. I ended up breaking out the vacuum and cleaning the floor, how funny is that?

After rehearsal, we were planning on supper and a movie, and it worked out nicely because her buddy CB came along. Again, we didn't make a big issue out of it being her birthday, we just wanted to go out and have fun. We went to the Nugget and had supper at Boloco, and it was definitely a day filled with nothing but junk food, for which I'm sure I'll regret.

Most importantly, A had a blast and it really turned out to be a special day without all the contrived and outrageous festivities. I hate to be a Scrooge, but sometimes I think it's a bit misguided to place so much emphasis and energy on one day of the year, when there are 364 other days when you can really make a difference.

Enough pontification, I'm just grateful that we survived and that the kids have fun. Much thanks to GG and JG for being such good friends. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Linzi's Cakes for the pic.

Snowboarding

Now that we’ve gotten a bit of snow, the kids have had a chance, albeit a small one, to break out their snowboards and try them out. Granted, it’s on the small hill in the backyard, but that’s how it all begins, right? It’s very manageable with just the right amount of steepness, and it’s short and sweet, so they can do it over and over. Plus, they have to work a little at it, the value of which can’t be overstated. Sometimes in our automated and machine assisted world, it’s too easy to be soft and sedentary. I think about how we drive everywhere and at some point you can live your life with virtually no activity. Kids especially need to be active, and active outside.

Now our hill isn’t huge, but it’s big enough to get some good rides and get a feel for riding the board. I think it’s just right for learning, and it appears that N is really embracing it. In fact, there’s an old section of maple that we use as a bench, and N managed to cover it with snow and use it as a jump. It’s nearly 1.5 feet high, so you can imagine what kind of air he gets going off it. The kind that give mom and dad gray hairs, but I have to confess, it’s pretty impressive seeing him going off it. Don’t tell R I said that.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to VancityAllie for the pic.

The Bear

Last weekend we had yet another busy few days, and of course it involved hockey. Is any of this getting old for you out there? Can’t say I blame you. I don’t know how this all works, but somehow there seems to be a lot of hockey tournaments, and what impresses me about it all is how all these teams make the trip out to play in them, even from far away. Last weekend A’s team took part in the Bear, a big Squirt tournament at UA where there must have been at least 15 teams involved from far away as Maine and New York. It was an amazing example of parent/child cooperation and endurance, not to mention a logistical miracle from the POV of DF and the guys at UA.

Now for whatever reason, A’s team got the worst time slots for two days in a row. How’s that for giving the house team (and home team) the short end of the stick? Not that we’re whiners, we’re hockey players, after all. Either way, the tournament covered Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and on Sat and Sun we had early morning games. I’m talking 6:30 on Sat and 7:00 on Sun. Brutal. Fortunately, A is a morning person and wakes up with her feet on the ground. In fact, when she came downstairs for breakfast, she was already dressed and ready to go.

The Bear was actually a blast, and you really have to give credit to DF, the crew at UA, and the parent volunteers for making it happen. You’re really not going to find a crew of people more dedicated to their kid’s game. It’s impressive, or scary, depending on how you look at it. A was thrilled to pieces to be taking part, and I think it was a really memorable experience. She has really taken to hockey, and is finding her place and making lots of friends. It’s done wonders for her skating, as well.

The outcome of the games was not ideal, her team lost all four of them, but it was a learning experience, and the kids played their hearts out. Personally I think the house team doesn’t have a lot of game experience, and they were going into a tournament against teams that clearly did. They had fun, and it was a memorable experience, so I give the whole weekend high marks, it’s just tough sometimes to come in last place. Then again, it’s these character building experiences that help a kid grow up and mature, right? It’s not just about winning, it’s about going out there and trying your best.

The weekend was a blast, either way, and for a change, it was all about A and hockey, instead of us focusing on N. Hockey has been his gig thus far, and now A gets to join in on the fun. I don’t think N feels threatened because their respective hockey experienes are completely different. Plus, it’s nice for A to get to feel the magic of it all.

We also got to sit and watch the big Boston Bruins alumni game, which was a lot of fun. Apparently some of the big names didn’t show up, and personally, being the hockey neophyte that I am, I was not familiar with too many of the players. I recognized some names because they actually played for the LA Kings, but they weren’t stars, and I get that in the interest of having bodies out there, they even put players that could just barely be considered actual Bruins players. Nevertheless, they were all good, and it was fun watching them play the dads out there. Everyone had fun, and the kids got to hang with their hockey buddies. Say no more.

All in all, it was quite the hockey weekend, filled with tons of friends, fun, excitement, junk food, and of course, hockey. Then again, what else is there in life?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to snorkmaiden for the pic.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring Sports Already?

Hockey season isn’t even over yet, and we’re already getting wind of spring sports. The time has come to get our names into the mix, though I tend to stress unnecessarily about these sort of things because if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that all these deadlines are really just for administrative purposes and people show up throughout the season, even at season’s end. Sure, this isn’t ideal, you really want to be there from the get-go to bond with your team and get the most fun out of the season, but on the other hand, no need to stress about it. Things will happen as they may.

I’ve seen this in t-ball, and it’s what we’re doing with A’s hockey. She literally joined with only a few weeks left in the season. To her credit, she jumped in without hesitation, knowing full well that the rest of the team had been playing together without her up to this point. She’s great in that way, not worrying too much about being the new kid and just joining the fun and having a great time with it.

Anyway, the concept of lacrosse has entered into the lexicon of our sports lives, and there are many positives about this development. First off, a bunch of N’s buddies from hockey are playing, so there is some continuity in his social environment. Second, N has mentioned in the past that he’d like to try it, so this works out well. And finally, I’ve been told that lacrosse is a good crossover sport for hockey, since hockey is really what life is all about.

As I mentioned, a year ago, before hockey was even an idea formulating in our heads, N said he’d like to try it. I have no idea where this came from, but we’d seen lacrosse players practicing in Quechee, and there is a certain air of coolness (or at least thinking you’re cool) to being a part of that group that I’m guessing speaks volumes to any young boy. This is true even more than hockey, because hockey players are generally incognito except when they’re on the ice, whereas lacrosse players walk around the parking lot with their sticks screaming to the world, “Look at me, I’m a lacrosse player.” Hockey players are a little more cool and coy about it all, and let their skating do the talking.

Either way, this brings up another challenge in our lives, and that is the gathering of equipment. Where to begin? Over the years I’d seen a fair share of stuff at the Listen, but never even considered getting it because we are not a lacrosse family, we just play one on TV. Our good friends the Es were playing, and I thought this would be a good intro into the sport, but then they sort of stopped before we had a chance to try it. However, they might be a good place to inquire about borrowing equipment, at least to just try the sport before we jump in like the sports junkies that we are.

The season begins in a few weeks, so I need to get my act together. Like all things in our lives, this is going to be an adventure, mainly because we tend to make it so.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to WC Lacrosse League for the pic.

Return of Green in the Green Mountain State

Well, if you can believe it or not, the time has come to rekindle Green in the Green Mountain State. Now that hockey is winding down, I’ll have more time to not only do more writing/blogging, but I can return to my real-man training in the wilds of Vermont. Then again, it doesn’t get any more real-man-ish than playing hockey, right? I will say this, I’m going to miss hockey. As my friend JB said, I’m going to have to go through a 12-step program once the season is over. Then again, there’s always summer hockey.

The main reason that I’m revisiting this blog is because the barn project has been cruising along, albeit without my incompetent hands. As anyone who followed this blog might know, the barn has been moving at a snail’s pace, and as much as I’d like to take credit for its completion, I just don’t have the wherewithal to get it done, though in all fairness, I did manage to frame the windows and put up the sheathing, which was no small task (the male ego is such a fragile thing, is it not?)

Anyway, the reality is, it was time for some professional help. Enter KB. The guy is amazing. Then again, it’s what he does for a living, and he does it well. You really see the difference between a professional and a novice like myself, the biggest of which is things actually get done. Now in true contractor fashion, he’s got other projects going that take up his time, but on the whole, the barn is getting done. It’s pretty amazing stuff.

AND, I’ve been given work duties. In the beginning, I helped KB do some floor work and some minor framing, but on the whole, I think he clued into the fact that my presence was not a dependable phenomenon, so he brought in outside help and things really started to move along.

What that means is, more content for this other blog, which speaks more to any real men out there who don’t want to read about homemaking, cleaning, and brownie recipes, but would rather read about power tools, sweat, blood and guts. Real man stuff.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Finally Some Snow, Snow Day, and Skiing

We finally got some of the white stuff, and in an odd way, the timing is somewhat fortuitous because we haven’t really had a lot of free time ski, what with hockey taking over our lives. Now I’m not qualified to say, being a Flatlander and all, but most people in the know agree that it’s been a strange, if not troubling, winter. Usually we get an occasional big snow storm to make everything white, but this winter has been a bust. Sure, we got a big dumping in October, but that was over and done quickly. The ski hills have been suffering, especially since they didn’t get any snow for the two big holiday weeks.

Anyway, the big storm finally came, and dumped anywhere from 8 to 10 inches. Not as much as some storms, but hey, I’m not complaining. They even closed the schools, which meant time to hang with friends in school. We’d had a tentative playdate in the afternoon, but had to cancel due to weather. However, with our day free, we thought it would be a great chance to hit the slopes, on the condition, of course, that our driveway would get plowed.

Sure enough, KB showed up in the AM and cleared a path, and we were good to go. The plan was as follows - meet our friends here, load the kids in one car, and I would follow with the equipment. The one thing you notice about winter sports, including hockey and skiing, is that there is a ton of equipment, and it can be heavy. It makes a mess in the mudroom, as well.

Okay, enough of my whining. We had a great day of skiing, and saw pretty much half the people we know at the S6. I had spoken with CH about skiing, and she was non-committal by the time we were ready to go. I told her we were going no matter what, so maybe that motivated her a bit, because she did show up later, and it worked out beautifully.

We got there around 11:00, and it was snowing constantly. Really pretty out there. The lodge was packed, and we saw several of our hockey family friends, not to mention Waldorf family friends. It made for a fun day of skiing. Our group worked out perfectly, as well. A got to ski with her buddy A and sometimes LG, HH skied with I, N skied the day with CH, and I got to ski all by my lonesome. When was the last time that happened?

The conditions were great, but if I had to be a whiner, and I am a whiner, the powder was thick enough to make it a little more challenging than I prefer. I liked it packed so I can whiz down the hill, but with chunks of powder, I felt myself losing control and had to slow things down. It would have actually been a good day for snowboarding, but one thing at a time here.

We ate lunch in the lodge, which for the record cost more than our lift tickets, and then skied until closing. The kids skied until the very last minute, and then we re-convened in the lodge to warm up and hang with the thousands of kids that were there. It was quite the scene, and I got to reconnect with friends I hadn’t seen in months. It was a really nice time.

After skiing, we headed home and of course the kids didn’t want it to end. I had the girls over for supper so HH could have some down time. The original plan was to make this take and bake pizza from the Coop, which are a great deal. They’re huge, and we like them. I whipped together some veggies and baked the pie, and the kids ate supper. R and I figured we could wing it, as long as the kids get a healthy meal. They then watched a movie and then I took the girls home since they had school the next day.

What a great day, and it was all transpired without much in the way of planning. I love when that happens. It just goes to show you, even when you homeschool, snow days are fun.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Bahman Farzad and Pauljh for the pics.

Early Hockey Practice and More Skating

Last week as N’s season wound down, we had an early practice followed by an open stick, so as usual, we had a long day of hockey, not that I’m complaining. Now for whatever reason, they scheduled the practice for 8:30, and I was wondering if we should just blow it off, but N was determined to go, as was A. How’s that for dedication?

To make it all the more interesting, there was an open stick right afterward, and we got word that the Gs were going to join us. Say no more. There was the full crew there for practice, which just goes to show you that hockey families don’t mess around. As much as we ponder the time commitment, we are definitely a dedicated bunch. I don’t think there are too many other sports where you’ll see this level of diligence.

Either way, I laced up my skates to help out, and I don’t know if it was too early in the AM or what, but I went on the ice and forgot to take off my skate guards. It’s a crazy sensation when you get on the ice, because your feet just slip out from under you and you can’t figure out why. I was holding all these water bottles that scattered across the ice. How embarrassing. To add to the drama, I tried to stand up again and fell over again. I just can’t do thing halfway.

Eventually I figured out what was wrong and fixed the situation, but not before putting on a show in front of the kids. Oh well, it’s good for entertainment value. After practice, we stuck around and did the open stick, and we got to play against the Gs. We could have done a Gs vs. the Ls, but we would have been in way over our heads, especially since most of the Gs are NHL caliber pros.

We had a blast, and A&N did a great job. They’re really loving the hockey thing, even if it’s consuming our lives. It’s one of those things that is easy to complain about (the parents, not the kids) but we’ll miss it when it’s over.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to debaj for the pic.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Big Hockey Weekend and Catching a Break

I’m behind on this blog and am trying (failing?) to catch up. We had a huge hockey weekend this past weekend, but before I get too into that, we also had a huge hockey weekend two weeks ago, and we could have another huge one next weekend. How crazy is that?

We were supposed to travel up to Burlington two weeks ago for the big jamboree, but they had problems at the arena and the weekend was cancelled. Big bummer, the kids were disappointed, but I have to confess that I’m feeling a little fried by all the hockey. It’s one thing to spend every day at Union Arena like we are, but going up to Burlington for a few days of fun in the sun is an exhausting proposition, not to mention an expensive one.

Now I don’t mean to be a wet blanket about all this, and my kids would be disparaging of me for admitting it, but I was a little relieved. It would have been a blast, and the kids were really looking forward to it, but truth be told, it would have been a hectic weekend, and many of us wouldn’t be getting too much in the way of sleep. I’ll leave it at that.

Being the incredible go-getter that he is, DF pulled off this amazing feat and organized a last minute jamboree on our home ice. With the help of one of the dads, they somehow got all these teams to show up with zero notice and the kids got to have a tournament, after all. Pretty incredible stuff. I don’t know how he does it, but DF is Mr. Hockey. Either way, the tournament was great, and we didn’t have to travel to Great White North to play in it. We’re grateful for that, and as a result, we got to go to more Dartmouth hockey games. How’s that for taking a break from hockey? Go to more hockey games.

Actually, I love going to Dartmouth games, the season is basically over. We caught the last of the men’s home games, and the beginning of the women’s playoffs. Fun stuff. Then we spent the weekend watching the kids play hockey. In fact, this worked out beautifully, because N got have his last hurrah in goal. He was mad at me because he didn’t get his last chance to be goalie before the season was over. Of course it was my fault, I don’t mind taking the blame because it sort of is, but that’s another story. Either way, he was simmering also because the last game when he was supposed to play in goal, there weren’t enough players to field two goalies, so he again missed out. It’s not that he longs to be a goalie, but more that he just wanted one more turn.

Well, at the jamboree, he got his chance. 6 periods of it, and I’m glad for that. Now we can move on with our lives.

So things worked out, and now we have more hockey to look forward to for the rest of our lives. Hey, you make your bed and sleep in it, right? We wouldn’t want it any other way.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to P. J. McAdie for the pic.

More Healthy Living

It’s amazing how as you age, you just can’t take your body for granted like you did when you were younger. I remember not giving a second thought to the things I ate or how much, and even as a young adult, I took my health for granted. Sure, I regret it now, and even though I’m not necessarily suffering outright from the things I did, there’s still plenty of time to suffer the consequence of my stupidity. If anything, that time may be happening as we speak.

Either way, it’s never too late to do the right thing, right? I can’t take back the years of physical abuse that I put myself through, but I can at least live a healthier life in the here and now. There are three main aspect to this new approach to life, and the beauty is that they all involve things we promote in our kids. The wonders of parenthood and wanting to set a good example, or at least not be a hypocrite.

First off, get more sleep. I’ve always worn sleep deprivation as a bit of a badge of moronic pride, as if it was cool that I could function on little to no sleep. How dumb is that? Not only do I feel tired and crappy all the time, but an increasing number of health experts now recognize the importance of sleep, not just for feeling better, but for mental, emotional, and physical health, not to mention living long. Oh, and let us not forget avoiding feeling like hell all the time. It’s a running joke in this house that I feel tired all the time, and my kids give me constant grief over this. At some point you just get tired (no pun intended) of being tired, and things have gotten better since I stopped sleeping on my back and don’t try to get up at 4:00 AM every day. I’ve also found that using those nose bandages that help you breathe are helpful, as well.

On the dietary front, and this was the hardest thing to do, is cutting back on my sugar intake. If anything, I thought this would be impossible, but you realize that nothing is impossible if you really just try. I used to eat at least a half bar of chocolate (not small bars, but those big Hershey bars) or a seven or eight cookies every night after supper. In my heyday, I could easily put away a pint of ice cream, even two if it didn’t make me feel so guilty. I have R there to remind me of my health, and gradually I decided that maybe I should take heed of her advice. She never lectures, and never insists, but she sure knows her stuff, and since I had some health episodes, I decided to give it a try.

It wasn’t even as bad as I thought it would be, and at first, I took it as a challenge just to see if I could pull it off. The beauty is, after a few days of reduced sugar intake, when you do eat a couple of cookies or a candy bar, you sure feel the negative effects. It makes me wonder about when I used to eat tons of sugar. For full disclosure, I am still eating chocolate, but have limited myself to dark chocolate, only. I usually go for the 70%, but will drop to 60% if necessary. Nothing lower, and for that matter, nothing higher. The wonder of all this is that I’ve always hated dark chocolate. It was either milk chocolate or nothing, but after cutting back on sugar, dark chocolate sure does taste better. If anything, milk chocolate is too sweet for me now, which is completely amazing in light of my past. Plus, I think of dark chocolate as being good for you, so I don’t feel guilty eating it every day, sometimes twice a day. It’s more expensive, but I eat a lot less of it.

Okay, final piece of health news is that I switched to lighter coffee. Again, R never lectured me about this, but she is aware of the negative effects of burning food. Darker roasts result from roasting the beans longer, resulting in greater oxidation products. No studies have been done on coffee, but it’s true that as you cook things longer, the by products of cooking are not always good for you. Coffee could fall into this category. Whatever be the case, I’m drinking lighter coffee, and it’s fine. Good coffee still tastes good, even if it’s lighter, and it may be healthier. I used to drink the darkest roast (French), and black with no sugar for full effect.

Now I don’t necessarily feel like a new man, but I do feel better overall. I think it really boils down to getting more sleep and cutting back on sugar. There are some health advocates that want sugar classified in the same category as alcohol and tobacco because of all the negative health effects. I think this is a bit extreme, but am also aware that we, as a culture, eat way too much of the stuff. I know I did.

That’s it on the health front. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to michael.seth for the pic.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Future Karate Master

Master H asked me to obtain some sais for A so that he could teach her the weapons kata and then she would be the overseer of that particular kata. Of course, A was thrilled to pieces at the idea, and I think it's really cool that he thinks highly enough of her to be in charge.

Now, of course, begins yet another journey of buying these swords. For those of you who don't know, sais are those menacing short swords that you see in kung fu movies that look like tritons. The kind that kids think are way cool but give parents pause.

This should be good. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to polistes1 for the pic.

Complicated Musical Life

While some things in our lives may be cooling down (i.e., hockey), other areas may be heating up, or at least getting a bit more interesting. A has been taking guitar lessons with her two teachers for about two years, and being the absolutely objective person that I am, I can honestly say that she has a thing for music. She can sing and learns songs like it was second nature. Sure, she lacks motivation on many occasions, but when something interests her, she really dives in. It’s cool to see. She’s a real student of music, and goes to certain lengths to understand the theory behind songs and melodies. I don’t know enough to adequately describe it, but trust me, it’s cool to see the way she describes a chord progression or song structure.

With that in mind, she has been on acoustic guitar for all this time and has hinted at wanting to play electric guitar. There is the coolness factor in electric guitar, plus the fact that a lot of her friends who cannot play acoustic guitar talk about learning electric guitar, which is probably all about talking the cool talk, because I think you’re better off learning to play acoustic first, then going to electric, but that’s just me.

I spoke with A’s teacher, EE, who is an amazingly accomplished musician, and he said he teaches electric guitar and even recommended some types and brands. We’d have to get an amp, as well, but it would be pretty cool to get her set up on her path to being a rock star. We even got a thumbs up from mom, though time will tell how this plays out.

Speaking of music, N has been progressing nicely on his drums. We’re still searching for that elusive deal on a snare drum, but we may be getting closer. I can’t say for sure. Once we get the snare, we may have a line on a drum set that we can borrow indefinitely, and then we’re in business to have the noisiest house in the neighborhood. Good thing we live in the woods, otherwise our neighbors would drive us out of town from the noise. N has also indicated that he wouldn’t mind learning bongos, and we have several people in town who could teach him that, so that would be cool.

Even though N may not be as enthralled about music as his sister, at least that’s the vibe he gives off on the surface, he’s doing a great job, and he, too, is showing a deeper understanding of music. Even his teacher has said that he’s clearly getting a feel for playing drums and isn’t simply going through the motions. Plus, when he sees or hears music, he can comment on the drum progression or pattern, so something is sinking in. It’s too cool for words.

We also just got word from KR that she’s back and ready for lessons, even though we’ve been seeing EE. I was thinking it would be cool for A to jam with KR and take electric guitar lessons with EE, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to d o l f i for the pic.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Friday Night Flights

We made it to what turned out to be the final Friday night regular season game of the women’s hockey team at Dartmouth. They were playing Yale, who is pretty low in the standings, so I think Dartmouth was feeling a little comfortable. Since Yale isn’t such a big draw, it was empty as usual, which meant that we had a greater chance of winning free stuff. Sure enough, we scored a t-shirt and a free plane ticket on Cape Air, our second one. Now all we need is two more and we can fly as a family. Then again, the season is over, so that’s not going to happen for at least 9 months. Oh well, we don’t have plans to go to NYC any time soon.

It was one of those crazy Fridays on our end, with too much scheduled as usual. A had chorus rehearsal and then we opted for homeschool hockey over story hour. HS hockey was fun, though a bit draining, and possibly our last go around of it. Hockey season is definitely winding down. After the game, we headed over the library to meet mom, then had our customary Boloco burritos, then off to the game. It’s a long day, exacerbated by the fact that we had a full; day of things to do on Saturday, as well. No rest for the weary, as the saying goes.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to No Name No. 5 for the pic.

End of the Season

We closed out N’s regular hockey season over in Bellows Falls, I believe, playing Pleasant Valley, or PVA. The team is based in Saxons River and plays at the Vermont Academy, a prep school down in that area. It’s about an hour away, but a nice drive along the 91. I actually got to know several of the families because they attended DF’s summer hockey camps, and they are all really nice people, really down to earth and genuine. In fact, one of the moms, whom I saw again at this game, was the same person who saved my life at the first hockey camp by walking me through how to put on hockey equipment. I remember getting to the camp late, I was still learning the drill. When we arrived, all the kids were in gear and ready to take the ice, and we weren’t even dressed yet. N and I ran into the locker room and opened up the hockey bag, and my first thought was, “What the heck am I supposed to do first?” This mom was there and she helped me with everything. What a learning experience.

Anyway, we had our last game, and it was fun. The rink is ice cold, and doesn’t have much in the way of bleachers, but at some point you just appreciate having an ice rink. You don’t need luxury, just ice. Since it was the last game and there were things going on up in Burlington, we were missing a lot of players, but had enough to put a team together. It was supposed to be N’s last chance to play in goal, but since we were such a small team, that was not going to happen. N was good natured about it and didn’t complain, maybe because it was not my decision but the coaches. I have no clout in this family.

The game was fun, everyone had a great time and it was nice being with the team for one last game. Next season there will be a lot of changes, so it’s extra memorable since it’s our first season of hockey. On the way home, we decided to stop in Springfield to get some lunch. We hadn’t been back there in years, but last time we were there, we ate at this nice cafe on the main drag. When we got there, however, it was gone, replaced with a nicer restaurant, the kind that doesn’t serve lunch. Bummer. We decided to head home and have lunch at Stella’s.

It being a Saturday, the place was packed, so we had a wait a moment to get a table. We were thrilled, however, to see the Gs there having lunch, as well. Our town is en route to their town, so they stopped in to grab a bite, and had just ordered their food when we arrived. As soon as we got a table, LG joined us and chatted and ate. She is such a sweet and cute kid. I think she and A are bonding, as are she and N, but in different ways. We also saw our friends and neighbors in town, and I ran into DS. Of course we started talking hockey, and I learned that his wife, C, is not as enthralled as he and I are. Oh well, you can’t have it all.

We chowed with our good friends and as always, the food was outstanding. I love that place, it’s really too bad they don’t serve dinner. After our meal, we went home and chilled out after a long but great day of hockey and hanging with our friends. I love those kind of days.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks spih_2 for the pic.