Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Irony of it All

I’ve mentioned before that we are on the downward slope of the hockey season and there is light at the end of the tunnel, but if you can believe it, things are actually heating up. It’s all these darn tournaments, they just never end. I enjoy hockey and am glad that the kids are loving it, but it would be more fun without all this intense competition and preparation. It really becomes about winning, and believe me, it can stress you out.

On that note, we have two tournaments coming up this weekend. Every parent around me is talking about how they are relieved that the season is finally over, and I share this sentiment, though maybe not in the same sense. It’s been a tough year, very busy, and I would like to see an end to all the commitment and just have fun on the ice. I say this because while the season may be ending, hockey is by no means over. We have spring hockey coming up, not to mention skills camps. This should be interesting.

Of course it begs the question, “What exactly have I gotten myself into?” Then again, what else is new?

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Alternate Plans and Final Women’s Hockey Game

Due to our incredibly busy schedules, A could not attend a birthday party for her buddies, ES. It was a sleepover and fell on the night before her big championship game, so there was no way she could sleepover. We felt bad so tried to think of an alternate plan, and this is what we came up with: instead of a sleepover, on the night before, we would take her out to dinner and then a Dartmouth basketball game, since she’s a basketball player.

Personally, I would have opted for a woman’s hockey game, which was going on at the same time, mainly because I like hockey, as you may have guessed, and I am not a big basketball fan. Basketball, however, had a few things going for it. First, as I mentioned, ES is a basketball player, so she would be interested. Second, the kids have been to plenty of hockey games, but we’ve never been to a basketball game. Third, it was ES’ birthday, so we had to let her decide, and she chose accordingly.

Her family was going to a soiree that evening, but after thinking it over, they concluded that she would have more fun at a game, so we picked her up at school and headed over to the big city. It was fun, we had pizza and then headed over to the game. Hanover was packed, it was not easy finding parking, so we had to walk a little. The game was enjoyable, I’m still not a huge fan, but the kids liked it. Afterward, we headed home and dropped her off at the soiree. They invited us in, but it was late, and we had places to be.

I’m glad we got to celebrate with ES, she’s always thinking of A, and she’s a good kid.

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

Still Coughing After All These Years

I’m going on week 6 of this cough, I kid you not, though I do think things are a little better. I could be fooling myself, but at this point, you have to grab onto anything you can get. I remember the date of my illness, it all started on 1/19, because that was the day I had to take A to her game in Northfield and then jet over to N’s game in Rutland. What a brutal day.

Anyway, people are starting to look at me like I’m a leper, and not just because I look like one. Whenever I’m around, I’m coughing my lungs out, and then it dawns on them that I sure have been coughing a lot, and for a long time. They all me with suspicion, and the look on their face screams, “Get the $#&*$ away from me.” I can’t say I blame them.

At some point you have to remind yourself that self-pity just gets you nowhere, so you just have to deal with your life. In this case, I have little choice since I’m the domestic diva in this household, and I’m currently riding solo. Also, I missed hockey last week, so I played this week, and it wasn’t so bad. I was hacking on the bench, and one of my teammates asked me how I did without supplemental oxygen. Very funny.

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

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Missing Karate Again

I’ve missed several weeks of karate, and as bad as I feel about it, I just can’t find the time and wherewithal to make it to one more activity in the evening. It’s a bummer because the class is picking up momentum, there are several new students, and Master H is really enthused about things. So much so, in fact, that he wants to have a black belt test for three of us, which is kind of heavy. Black belt tests can be rigorous, from what I can gather, and we may end up sparring Master H, which is a scary thought. The man can kill people with his bare hands. Yikes.

Either way, I’ve been out so much, I tossed out the idea that maybe I shouldn’t be taking the test this time around, and would be willing to wait until the next one. Master H was having none of that, he said he wanted me there, so it looks like I’ll be there

Did I mention I have to run 5 miles?

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

The Producers

The kids have been given a really neat opportunity at the local TV station to write, produce, and direct their own broadcast. This is the sort of stuff A eats up, she loves being a director, and what’s great about it is that N gets to take part, too, but more from a behind the scenes perspective. He will be the cameraman, which is a good, manly position. The kind he likes.

The man in charge over at the studio, BF, is a great guy and has been very supportive of A’s book group. He is also very enthusiastic about the kids getting involved in the production aspect of putting on a TV show. How cool is that? He inquired if the kids were interested, and they said yes. What’s great about it is that he provided some guidance, but the overall production of the show, from ideas to writing, to shooting and editing, is all theirs. They have all sorts of ideas, and I can see that A is pumped. N is not as enthralled, but he enjoys taking part and being included in the production. Truth be told, when he is nudged a little and inspired, he is quite the charming showman. A can bring it out in him, she has that magical way about her, but it also came up during clown camp, when the counselors applauded N’s personality and ability to perform. It’s there, it just has to be stoked a little.

Either way, we have the camera, and we have been taking all sorts of footage. Even mom has gotten into the act and enjoys using the movie camera. Maybe this is the direction our lives will take, becoming a family of film producers/directors. That wouldn’t be so bad, would it?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Jason M Rogers Photography for the pic.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

State Tournament, part 2 (the games)

In other words, the important stuff.

All this talk about the logistics of this past weekend and I haven’t gotten to the good part, the kid’s games. For the record, both N’s and A’s teams did well, but A’s team will be only one advancing to the championship game. N’s team fell just short, for which I have mixed feelings.

Now as I may have mentioned, the state tournament involves all the teams in the state, not unlike the NCAA basketball tournament. In most instances, all the teams go, but when the bracket is too big, they have an initial playoff to trim the field to 8 teams. Those 8 teams play, then the top two go the championship.

Now N’s team has had a stellar year, going undefeated in their division and entering the tournament in first place. A’s team had a tough year, losing most of their games in the beginning and then finding their stride near the end. The key point is that N’s team is an A/B team and faced some tough teams during the season. We also scheduled games against A teams, losing most of them, but winning some and tying a few. It was a true test of the team’s abilities.

Now N’s team will face these same tough A/B teams in the tournament. A’s team, on the other hand, faced a lot of tough opponents, but will not face any of them in the tournament, because they are ranked as an A/B team, but played mostly A teams during the season. Some of the games were blowouts.

As it stands, there are only 4 A/B teams in the girls division, and one of them is a U10. The only team that gave A’s team a run for their money was Middlebury, who beat them three times during the season. To their credit, they tied Middlebury during the tournament, and then Middlebury lost to Missisquoi. A’s team then went on to beat Missisquoi to come out on top. Now since there aren’t that many teams, A’s team will play Missisquoi again for the championship, so they have a pretty good shot.

N’s team, on the other hand, had a tough run. Not only did they have to play four games two weeks ago to trim the teams down to eight, but then they had three tough games to play this last weekend. They beat Lyndon handily, then lost a heartbreaker to CVSA. They took a one goal lead into the final two minutes of play and then gave up two goals to lose. What a downer. Then on Sunday, they beat who I think is the best team in the tournament, Middlebury, but that left a four way tie for teams at 2-1. With the tiebreaker, we came in third, and so will not advance.

Now as for my feelings, I am truly mixed. On the one hand, yes, it’s a total bummer that they had a game in hand and then let it slip away, and yes, it’s a drag that they couldn’t play for the championship. But on the other hand, it is just a game, and they had a great season and it’s been long, very long. Plus, at this level, the key thing is for them to develop skills and learn to love the game. I think that end has been achieved.

Some of the players and coaches came away from the state tournament completely devastated, there were plenty of tears in the locker room, but I kept thinking that these kids are 10 years old, should they be so invested in the outcome, as opposed to the process? I think N was pretty level headed about it. Sure, he would have loved to have had a championship season, but I think he just loves being out there and being around his buddies. Winning is good, but not critical to having a good time.

We’ll see how things work out in the long run, but for now, I’m just happy the kids are having fun and learning to be responsible people. Lessons about winning, losing, and having character, respect, and pride are invaluable, and ones parents just can’t teach on their own... or at least, that’s what I think.

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

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

State Tournament, part 1 (Food and Lodging)

As if I wasn’t burned out enough with hockey, we had a brutal hockey weekend, though in all fairness, it was fun. The kids had a blast, but now that I’m dealing with this flu, I feel bad for N, who has been coughing the entire week. Kids are resilient, and it doesn’t seem to hold him back, but it’s not easy.

Both A and N are playing in the state tournament, which is really just a year-end playoff between all the teams. N’s division is a bit bigger, so they had to weed out some of the teams the week before, but A’s division is tiny, so all the teams will go. Two weekends ago N’s team did very well, so they went into this past weekend the top seed in their division.

The bit complication with this weekend was that A games were up in Morrisville, which is past Stowe, and N’s games were in Middlebury. The distance between the two was about 130 miles, so we had to come up with a plan. With A’s team it was every man, or girl, for themselves. People had a number of different plans, some stayed in Stowe, some commuted. We were one of three families that had players on both teams, and we could not find a mutually beneficial plan, so we had to come up with our own.

In terms of cohesion, I’ve never seen a team like N’s, whose coach is really big on team unity. He is keen on team dinners, team parties, etc. He wanted the team to stay in the same motel, so he arranged for one in Shelburne, which is basically S. Burlington. The rooms were cheap, around $59/night. That immediately sent out a red flag, and when we looked at the TripAdvisor reviews, R said, “We will not be staying at this place.” The usual negative attributes, dirty sheets, mold in the bathroom, sleazy managers gawking at young girls.

We got a room further north, closer to our other destination, though not that much further. We were going to take N with us to his sister’s game, but Mr. Hockey indicated that he really wanted the team to eat supper together and hang out as much as possible. Enough said, we arranged for him to go up with his buddies, and we headed up to Morrisville with A. It worked out well because N got to bond, and I got to see A’s game.

After A’s game, we did the hour drive to Shelburne to get N, giving us a firsthand look at the Roach Motel, which sure enough was a dive. The other parents were joking that they slept with their hats on and refused to use the shower. I have to confess, the place was a bit of a dump, you really notice the difference between a cheap motel and a moderately priced one. The Roach Motel did have a complimentary breakfast, which was a bit of a joke, but more on that later.

The got N home and hit the sack immediately, then woke up around 5:30 the next day. Not much time for breakfast, though I did try to get N to eat something. The motel we were staying at was pretty nice, definitely nicer than the Roach Motel, though it did wreak of cigarettes in the stairwell. R dropped us off with N’s team, and we hitched a ride with TG and family. From the Roach Motel it was about a 45 minute drive. R went back and took A to her morning game in Stowe, which was at 9:30. Can you see what we had to go through?

The plan was for me to hang with N’s team until his afternoon game (1:30PM), and then A would hang with her team until her evening game (5:00PM). For me, it was a brutally long day, because I was not at our motel, so I had to squat in other people’s rooms. They were of course nice enough to welcome me in, but they probably wanted some quiet down time, as well. Oh well, what are you going to do?

The funny thing was after N’s game, DF wanted everyone back at the Roach Motel for the breakfast, which was pretty unimpressive, even as far as motel breakfast’s go. Usually at cheap motels they give you the standard fare, but this one was pared down to the minimum: waffles and toast. Nothing else. They had one guy manning the waffle iron, and some toast. It took forever to get a waffle because they only had one machine, not that we were that hungry.

I thought the team should have gone to Denny’s or some restaurant and got breakfast, but that wasn’t the plan. I figured N would just hang out, have some juice, and then we’d got to a friends room and relax. He did, however, manage to wolf down a waffle, for which I have mixed feelings. Those waffles are ubiquitous whenever you travel in the US, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the batter is manufactured somewhere in Cleveland with all sorts of artificial garbage. I’d prefer our kids not to eat them, but they’re tasty, especially with a ton of high fructose corn syrup.

Anyway, we hung out and relaxed, and after a couple of hours, we piled back into the car and headed back to Middlebury for N’s second game. After that, we headed back to the Roach Motel for the team supper. I was planning on hanging with the team, but then I talked to R, who was at the motel, and realized we would make it back in time for me to catch a ride to A’s game. So I left N with his team, met with R, and we did the hour drive to Stowe to watch A’s game.

Then we drove back with A and her buddy SP, dropped her off (their room smelled like an ashtray), picked up N, and then went to sleep. N had a game Sunday morning, but that’s a story for another time. It’s time to end this entry.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Mozul and plate of the day for the pics.

Still Sick

I know how this guy feels.

Hi to all, sorry for my absence, dealing with many fronts over here, finding it hard to attend to this blog. No excuses, right?

One big downer has been my bout with illness. I think I’m going on week 4 of being sick, and there’s no end in sight. This round of disease has been simply awful, not so much for the severity of it all but the duration. I can’t seem to shake this cough, it keeps me up at night and I wake up feeling tired and depressed. I don’t want to keep R up at night, so I sleep on the futon, which doesn’t always help.

I can trace how long I’ve been sick by, of all things, hockey. I remember it was when A played in Northfield and N played in Rutland. I had to drive to both games, and believe me, it was brutal. Not only was it covering a huge distance, but I was sick as a dog. That weekend was 1/19. I think it was the flu, because it hit me hard, and then it tapered off for a few days but never really went away. Just when I thought I was feeling better, I got what seemed like a head cold that migrated to my lungs, and now I’m sick once again.

On the one hand, it’s like a completely new cold, while on the other, it’s like the old flu bug was just laying in wait to morph into something new and launch a new assault on my body. Total bummer. I remember when A got sick, she seemed to cough for about a month. N is on the final leg (I hope) of his cough, which is going on week 3 or 4, and when I talk to other parents, they say their kids coughed for what seemed like forever. I can sympathize.

I’m guessing we’re experiencing this year’s flu, and it’s a nasty one. I can’t wait to feel healthy again, it’s been so long.

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Drum Parts

N’s drum teacher lent us a drum set for him to practice on, and I’m not clear what sort of time frame we’re talking about, but it’s not unthinkable that he can hold onto it for awhile. I hope so, because I think it inspires him a bit. Plus, how cool is it to have a drum set in your room? Who cares if it’s missing parts?

Actually, it’s sort of an issue. There are no cymbals and no bass pedal, so of course I made it my new mission to find these parts. I happened upon a drum set at the Listen Center and inquired about just purchasing the pedal. They were a bit reluctant breaking up the set, and asked me how much I was willing to spend, which strikes me as a loaded question. They also asked how much they actually cost, for which I had no answer, and finally offered them $10. They agreed, and now we are one step closer to drum nirvana.

N informed me that we still need cymbals, which I figured we had, but incorrectly so. Had I known, I would have tried to have procured them along with the bass pedal. Oh well, the search continues.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Well Oiled Machines for the pic.

Playing Guitar

I’m reminded of the John Mellencamp song where he says, “Forget about all that macho sh*t and learn how to play guitar, play guitar...”

I’m no stranger to the fact that being able to play an instrument can be cool when you’re a kid, bearing in mind, of course, that certain instruments have more cache than others. I think the rock and roll instruments hover high up on the cool spectrum, especially guitar. Drums are up there, as well, especially for guys, but drums are a production, and are not conducive to social settings.

Guitar, on the other hand, can be easily transported, and if you ever end up somewhere where there is a guitar, you can just pick it up and play. Plus, there is just something cool about playing guitar.

This has played out on a number of occasions with A. She has had numerous opportunities to play her guitar and perform, in front of friends and strangers, and I think she gets a big kick out of it. Even though I’m a boring old parent, I can appreciated the cool factor that it brings with it. What makes it all the more cool is that she is a real student of the instrument and thinks about things like chords and music theory. She then applies it to different songs she likes, and will sit quietly and figure out tunes. It’s great to see.

As I’ve mentioned, she is doing a world music class with her friends and they are singing a song she knows and has performed in the past. When the teacher learned of this, she asked her to bring in her guitar, and now she is going to play and sing a solo. She is excited about it, and again, I think it’s cool. Somewhere down the line in life, our kids will appreciate the ability to play. They doesn’t have to be an impresarios, but they just need a rudimentary knowledge to have fun with it.

And, of course, to be cool, which when you really get down to it, is what being a kid is all about.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Kristijan ┼Żontar for the pic.

Getting Pic'd

R got her pictures in the local paper, which is pretty cool when you think about it. Since I’m writing the local hockey report, I inquired if they’d be interested in some pics, as well. Actually, I didn’t inquire, I just submitted them and said they were free to do with them as they pleased, and they liked them. They also gave me a byline, so our glorious careers in media have begun.

The bonus to all this is that R gets to take part in hockey in a way that speaks to her, and this makes our obsession with the game a little more tolerable. I’m still a bit cynical about the whole hockey/parental obsession, and feel the need to strike a healthy balance, but I am glad for the fact that R can get some satisfaction out of it.

Plus, she really enjoys taking the pics, so it’s all good. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to CubaGallery for the pic.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

This is the End

This is the end, my only friend, the end... Can you name the song?

The hockey regular season ended last week, and I have to say, I’m not completely heartbroken. This time last year I was so bummed, but I’m pretty hockey-ed out over here. Coupled with all that’s being asked of us is the fact that I feel abandoned by all my so-called comrades in the youth hockey organization, who in the best interest of their children, are abandoning the team in droves. You can’t blame them, but the current system that is in place really hurts the program. In all fairness, I probably wouldn’t be so whiny if I was in their shoes, but I’m not, so I am.

The thing that bums me out is that all of N’s friends are moving up, and the few that might stay back are talking of moving up, as well. The program allows for this in certain situations, and the reality is, in a majority of cases, it doesn’t serve the team well. It’s really about promoting the child and making statement about their abilities at the expense of the greater good. No question about it.

A big problem stems from the fact that the people in charge and the heavy hitters in the program are the ones doing all the maneuvering, so how do you argue with that? Plus, one of the biggest detractors of the situation is guilty of the same offense.

It’s all a big mess, and personally I feel done with it all. I don’t even want to discuss it with the people around me, it’s all talk in the end. They’ll do what they’ll have to do, like all of us.

We’ll see where this whole fiasco leads us. BTW, the song is by the Doors. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to the_mel
for the pic.

Girl’s Night Out

Last weekend they arranged for the girl’s hockey team to all meet at the Dartmouth game to cheer on the women and watch their friends skate on the big arena ice. The powers that be had set up a one-on-one shoot out between the different hockey programs, and one of A’s teammates was going to do it. Consequently, all of her teammates went. They got in free with their jerseys, so there was no way we weren’t going. Plus, we were at Stateline earlier in the day and one of the salespeople gave us complimentary tickets, which only cost about $5 each, but it was still nice.

We went to Boloco for our traditional pre-game meal, where we saw several of A’s buddies streaming in. We beat the rush and got out with time to spare. Once at the game, we got seats and let the kids run free. Fortunately for N, several of his buddies showed up, so he didn’t have to hang with the girls only. A, of course, was beside herself, what with a dozen of her good friends and teammates. The night was really fun.

One note, the game was against Harvard, who are in first place and always a threat to be champions. I noticed that all of the Harvard coaches are women, which is unusual, even for women's hockey. I think A's team would benefit from having a woman as a coach.

We got home late and had games and practices to deal with, but all in all, it was a great weekend. Plus, N had only one game, and A had none, so we didn’t spend driving all around the state, like we usually do.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to 560XLS for the pic.

Pond Hockey

We’ve been immersed in the end of the season, illness, and fundraising for the last big hurrah in hockey, so I apologize for not writing. Lots going on, not to mention the demands of everyday life. It really takes a lot out of you, and dare I say, can make one a little bitter.

We had a great weekend, however, a few days back, and believe it or not, it all centered around hockey. Go figure. Our good friend TG has a great pond up where he lives, and since he’s a farmer and all, he has the means to clear the ice and groom it to the point where it’s fun to skate on. That means one thing: pond hockey.

He sent out a mass email for people to come, and it was an outstanding turnout. There must have been 30 people out there, including about 20 kids. They had a blast. They built a bonfire and roasted hot dogs, and they must have been out there for 3 hours. When I picked up N, his hair was completely matted down and soaked with sweat. You gotta love that.

I, unfortunately, could not partake in the fun because A had practice, of all things. Her team is heading into the state tournament with no games, so the coach was not happy. There was ice available on the weekends to practice, however, so he took it. Not ideal, but I know at least A was excited to get more hockey time. She missed out on the pond hockey, but she wasn’t disappointed because she got to hang with her hockey buddies. Besides, the pond was really an N thing.

I was chauffeur for the day, carting kids back and forth, so that was my version of fun, but it was a nice day in the end, and everyone had fun.

Enough said.

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