Thursday, February 26, 2015

My Hero

This is too cute for words, but N came to my rescue many times as I lay dying in the throes of illness, and I have to give him credit, he took action at a time when I would have been freaked out and unsure what to do. We were finishing our game in Rutland at a freezing cold ice rink and I was sick as a dog, only to come out into frigid conditions outside and then into an ice cold car. Feeling sick as I was compounded by the cold sent me into uncontrollable shivers in the car, and as I tried to warm up, N sprung into action, getting the heat going, directing the vents toward me, and covering me up to help keep me warm. I thanked him and things improved as the car warmed up, and once we were on the road I was fine.

Once we got home, however, we came into an ice cold house. Once again I was cold, and once again, N sprung into action, grabbing firewood and kindling and rolling the paper to help me get the fire going. Once it started, I laid down next to the stove and he brought me a pillow to rest my head. Now I realize that this might be a normal response by any thoughtful person, but somehow it's extra special when it's your own kid, don't you think?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Team111Productions for the pic.

Skis For Me

Now that I'm on the hunt for skis for A (and N, for that matter), I have my eyes wide open wherever I go, looking for that bargain pair that is in good shape and more importantly, looks cool. We're talking teens and pre-teens here. Either way, I realize that to get her a decent pair of skis, I may have to spend a little more money than I intended, which is reasonable. Skis are so expensive these days, but we don't need high tech/high performance gear. It really just has to work properly and look cool, and not in that order.

For now I've got time, so I've been visiting the Listen Center pretty regularly and am struck by the quantity of skis they get. Ski equipment is a crazy thing because it's expensive but people seem to unload their skis for next to nothing, or even donate them. I would say about 90% of the skis at Listen are complete junk and not even worth your time, with about 9% being of decent quality and useable. Every now and then, you can find a gem hidden in the pile. I've found decent snowboards this way.

I was over there the other day and found a nice pair of skis that might have passed the A test for coolness for $10. They had clean edges (no rust) and no divots on the bottom, and looked in good shape. Plus, unlike a lot of their skis, they looked like they'd been made in the 21st century, maybe even around 2010. Of course I bought them. You don't have time to ponder purchasing decisions at the Listen Center, because at those prices, anything half-way decent will be gone within the hour, so I had to act impulsively.

Well, I got them home only to realize that they were a bit too big for her. This was a definite bummer, but then I decided that I could use them. I like my current pair of skis but they are old junkers. They are old but not ancient, meaning that they are shaped and not straight-edged. I see people out there with straight edge skis, which is totally old school, so at least I'm a bit more evolved than that. I bought a pair of newer skis at a yard sale for, you guessed it, $10 and was excited to have fancier/newer skis, but somehow I didn't like the feel of them. I'm not well-versed in how different types of skis perform and I realize there is a lot of thought and technology that goes into them, but it's all Greek to me. For whatever it's worth, I did feel a difference riding these newer skis, and decided that I didn't like them.

Now I've got a new pair and I'm sort of excited to try them out. If I end up not liking these, I think my days of buying skis are over, at least for myself. I may have to turn to ski swaps and end season sales to get A's skis.

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

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cold February

R just told me that this year is the first in recorded history where the temperatures during the month of February never broke 32 degrees. Apparently we've reached that temp, but have never surpassed it. I believe it, it's been brutally frigid, more so than I can remember, and the cold days are unrelenting. It won't be long before polar bears start migrating down here. It doesn't help that we've all been so sick, but thankfully we have plenty of wood and we've received boatloads of snow. Then again, the snow is a double edged sword, because we love to ski and play in it, but it sure makes for extra work around the house. You just can't please everyone, can you?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Marlis1 for the pic.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Putting on the Miles

The past two weekends have been a marathon and a real test of parental stamina and mettle. Last weekend we had hockey for three consecutive days in Manchester, which is about 1.5 hours away in good weather and we had blizzard conditions all three days, and then this weekend we drove back and forth to Rutland. A was off the first weekend but was in Highgate this weekend, so R took her up there. You can't commute to Highgate, it's about 2.5 hours, so they got a hotel, but N and drove back and forth for most of the days. What a bear of a drive.

We decided to commute to save some dough and because the games were not horribly early, making driving in reasonable. N's games started Friday, and as I mentioned, the weather was brutal, snowing Friday and all day Saturday. The road conditions were precarious, and we had places to be. Sunday was the only day I think it didn't snow, though the roads were still squirrelly. This past weekend we made a couple of trip to Rutland, which about and hour away, and we stayed one night, but it's still a bit of a trek, and again, the one night we had to drive home, it snowed about 6 inches. We literally crawled through the Killington Pass. Sunday was actually nice, though cold. What's with all the cold weather?

Oh well, we made it through. Mom and A came home and it's nice to have everyone together again. Plus, there's light at the end of the tunnel, hockey is winding down and I think at some point the weather may warm up. At least that's how it's been in the past.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Tony Wasserman for the pic.

Brutal Weekend

We sure had a brutal weekend this past weekend, and it may take weeks for me to recover. The State Tournament has started and the kids were in two different places at the same time, it's just that the two different places were in opposite corners of the state. A had to head up to Highgate which is about 5 miles south of the Canadian border, while N was down in Rutland. Talk about inconvenient, it doesn't get any worse than that. We had to divide and conquer, with R going with A, and myself going with N. It was yet another weekend of driving all over, but you do what you have to do, right?

To aggravate things, we are all sick, some of us more than others. N got it first early last week, and there was some concern that he would even play but he rebounded quickly and by Friday he was good to go. Then A got sick and she actually missed the opening of the tournament on Friday because she had a fever, so mom took her up on Saturday for the next game. Then came me, who got sick on Friday as well, and then it seemed to spiral into this pretty serious flu-like condition. I don't know what it is, but I still have it, and it sure is a bummer. To compound the suffering, I get these massive chills and have to spend hours in these freezing cold ice rinks, only to emerge into this arctic vortex that we seem to be immersed in. It's been pretty miserable, and on at least one night we got this massive snowstorm that made driving home through the Killington Pass precarious, where we averaged about 35 mph. Then we came home to cold house where we had to get the fire going before we could warm up, then wake up early the next day and do it all over again.

We actually spent the first night in Rutland at a B&B, which mom found for us and it worked out nicely (she didn't want us staying in a roach motel). We had a 7:00AM game, which is a brutal time slot, and figured staying nearby would give us a couple hours extra of sleep.The place was actually nice, and they were very accommodating and let us hang out after check out because we had a long gap between games, which is very helpful. The other families stayed in some of the nearby budget hotels and they all complained that they were not only dumps, but the proprietors were very unfriendly. I think mom was looking out for us.

On Sunday we had a morning game, and then one in the afternoon so people had to kill several hours. I asked our friend MH, who lives (sort of) nearby, if she was going home, and if so, if N could go with and her son, who is N's buddy. That was her plan so they took off and I just hung out and killed time. We then had an afternoon game, which for the record was amazing because we won and advanced to the championship, and by evening it was time to go home.

Now we're back in the swing of things, sort of tired of hockey and in need of a rest. I'm still sick, I skipped practice last night, though I'm feeling a little better today so I think I'll have to report for duty. When will this all end?

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

Friday, February 20, 2015

Final Ski Day in NH

We had our last homeschool ski day at Mt. Sunapee, and I have to say, what a great experience that was. Not only was it a bargain, but we got to try a new and hill and connect with some of our homeschool brethren. Also, I was able to get a lot of free skiing in by being a chaperone, and the kids learn to snowboard. How cool is that? Actually being a chaperone is not the most thrilling job, and a lot of times I ended up accompanying some of the younger kids on the easier hills, but that's fine because they're nice kids and it's good for them to have the experience. Also, A&N are good enough to where they can head off on their own, they don't need me anymore (boo-hoo!). Plus, there are bunch of other kids out there.

I am sad to see it all end, though it did complicate our lives considerably having skiing all day in NH and then to hockey in the afternoon/evening, not to mention having lunch and dinner prepared. It's a constant juggling act, though I would do it again in a heartbeat. From here on in we'll focus on skiing locally, I just have to find the deals.

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

Party Weekend

A couple of weekends back we had, like pretty much all of our weekends, a wild and crazy time. This weekend in particular, however, was extra fun because it was the night of the Tiki Torch Trek, which is a great event that everyone loves. With all the snow that we've received, the conditions were perfect, and we were all looking forward to it.

As usual I assumed more responsibility than I should have by not only agreeing to bake cookies and cornbread for the event, while also making a quinoa salad for N's team party, which was taking place after his game. Talk about crazy. This is how the day unfolded. I woke up early Saturday morning and baked the cookie bars and cornbread (hurt myself by waiting until the zero hour), while also making the salad. I wanted to drop the baked goods off at the event site that AM but it was too early and nobody was there, so I had to come up with an alternate plan, so instead N and I headed off to the game while R&A slept in and prepared to go to their comic workshop.

N's game was fine, they won, and I arranged for N to go to the party with GG while TM took the quinoa salad. I then headed off into the big city to do poster boy work. I finished in a timely manner and headed over to the party, which was beginning to wind down. The kids were off having a good time while the parents sat around and talked about the sort of things parents talk about, mostly hockey as you might expect. It's a beautiful house, and so nice of them to host.

At some point it was time to head out, so I rounded up N and we went back home, but not before I engorged myself on all the leftovers. I really chowed down, which worked out beautifully because they ran out of food at the Tiki Torch. We had some time so N and I dropped the baked goods at the Tiki Torch site and then took advantage of some much needed down time. About an hour later, R and A returned home and we set about getting ready for the Trek. The kids' buddies stopped by and A&N took off to hang out with them, which is really cool because they can just take off and have fun, allowing tired old mom and dad to take their time.

The crowds at the Tiki Torch were enormous, and it was a big success. Good for them, I'm glad it worked out, even though I missed out on the food. As I mentioned, the conditions couldn't have been better, though the kids ditched their skis to frolic in the snow with their friends. A got to reconnect with AH, her long lost buddy, and that was nice, while N hung out with the babes. There were 4-5 lovely young ladies that he hung out with, and they had a blast. By the end of the night he looked like Frosty the Snowman because he was literally covered in ice and snow.

By about 9:00, it was time to go home. I will say this, I was not only exhausted, but at some point I was bored out of my mind. I didn't know anybody, they were all new faces, and with the kids off and running with friends and R doing a lengthy night ski, I was all by my lonesome. It reminded me of being at a party in college, except back then I would keep drinking to ease the boredom. Sure, I saw some friends, but they were with family and did their thing. I sat by the fire and waited for R to show up, which she did, and then it was fine. Maybe I was just tired after a long day, which always affects my disposition. It was, after all a great night with stellar conditions.

As the event wound down, we all walked along the trials to our house, which was really nice. You really have to love living here, it's such a cool and magical place. We got home, the kids jumped straight into bed because, you guessed it, they had hockey games the next day. Everyone had fun, even if I was a little bored at times, and we slept like rocks. That is, of course, until the next day, when we were off and running again.

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

Monday, February 16, 2015

Driving to Canada

Hockey is a load of fun, but it sure can be an endurance test for the parents, namely me. I do most of the driving for the kids' games, and this weekend was a monster of a time for driving. A had a doubleheader up north, and we spent the entire day up there. Her first game was in Waterbury, which is about 1.5 hours up, and after that, they played in St. Albans, which is about an hour farther north. I think we were about a 45 minutes from the Canadian border, which is fine if you're going on vacation, but we still had to get home.

N's game was cancelled so he got to chill at home, but A and I hit the road and never looked back. We gave a lift to her team buddy, MS, which always makes it more fun, and as long as the kids are enjoying it, I'm fine. Interestingly enough, having the game beforehand made it easier because it broke the trip up. We made the long trek to her first game, and the second game was only about an hour away, so it was like making two shorter trips instead of one long one. The ride home was a bear, but again, as long as you're with good company, things go much more smoothly. Since we packed food and were well stocked with snacks, we didn't have to stop and have a big meal, expending time and the big bucks. I love when that happens.

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

Ski Connection

Speaking of skiing, I've found that being a decent skier can give you entry into groups of your peers. I think it's wrong that this is the case, but that's the reality of youth, not to mention adulthood. If you're good at something, kids gravitate to you. I see it all the time in whatever sport I've taken part in, and I see it now as a hockey coach. Everyone wants to be with the better players, which kind of stinks if you're one of the lesser players, but I won't get into that.

Both of our kids are competent skiers, and this is good on a number of levels. First, skiing is something they'll do for the rest of their lives, and learning early means once you're an adult, you can really make the most of it. Secondly, as I mentioned, being good at anything wins some respect from your peers. Thirdly, being good at something is good for the self esteem, and in the rough world we live in, a little self-esteem is not a bad thing. Finally, being good at something makes it that much more fun.

Since we've been skiing with a big group, being good at it attracts the attention of the other kids, and once they see you're good at it, something changes in the interaction. It helps that kids like to show off a little. A&N area little on the outside with this group since they've known each other longer and have been interacting for a while, but just recently A joined the group and skied with them for the entire day, and by the end of it, the kids were much warmer to her because she showed them her stuff. She also really enjoyed the day, so it's a win-win situation.

Boy, growing up is so complicated, isn't it? Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Valle Nevado for the pic.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Down to the Wire

We made this crazy trek to play hockey and meet up with the A&R to see a movie, and there was some question as to whether we'd pull it off. It was getting a little ambitious, to say the least. As I mentioned, we had this bummer of a weekend of travel going back and forth to Manchester, which is about 65 miles away, but through a winding mountain pass. We had to be there three days in a row, and to save money we decided to commute. Not the best plan, but a plan, nonetheless. The big problem we faced was that the big game day was on Valentine's Day, and we wanted to be with our family but had two games to play.

This meant driving to Manchester, playing a game, going somewhere for lunch, playing a second game, then heading to Hanover. It was complicated by the fact that the last game ended at 5:00PM and we had to be in Hanover by 7:00. Normally this is pretty doable, but we were hit with this massive snowstorm, making travel precarious and slow. Talk about bad timing.

The first game was pretty early so we had to leave home by around 7:00AM. For the record, the game went well, and afterward we all met up at a nearby inn to eat lunch and relax. It was nice to have a place to unwind, but the trip back home was on my mind, and I was hoping to get a nap in, which is pretty hard to do with nearly 20 pre-teen boys and an equal number of parents all hanging out and having a good time. I didn't get any rest, and had to pick up some supper for N to eat on the ride home. I found a killer Mex-fusion place, Cilantro, and got him some pork tacos. I was a little dismayed that from the moment we arrived and throughout the day the snow was unrelenting.

We then played our second game, with another good result, and told N afterward to get dressed as quickly as possible because we had to leave. He did a great job and we hit the road. I got him set up with his food and set about the trek home. The snow was still coming down and at points it was white-out conditions, though they did a good job of keeping the roads clear. As you can imagine, driving through a mountain pass, there are always cars who are driving at a snail's pace, and for good reason. It's just that we had places to be.

In the end, we pulled into Hanover with about 10 minutes to spare, found parking, called R, and met her in the lobby at pretty much 7:00PM. She gave us our tickets and by the time we entered the theater, the lights had dimmed and they were playing the coming attractions. I was exhausted but the movie was great and the kids enjoyed it. The snow was still coming down on the drive home, albeit lighter, and we arrived and unpacked our stuff. I was hungry and tired, but happy we made it home safely and happy that we managed to salvage our Valentine's Day, sort of.

Now we get to drive to Manchester once again. The beautiful thing is that next weekend will probably be even crazier.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Neil Johansson for the pic.

Standing My Ground

Our hockey association had their annual hockey game against the police force and I stood my ground and declined to play this year, despite pressure from all sides to join the party. I didn't want to play last year but was talked into it, and boy was I in over my head. Those cops are the real deal and they played to win. I was way out of my element and kept asking myself, "What exactly am I doing here? I didn't even want to play in this." This time around, they asked me again and I said "No way, Jose." Being the type of people who don't take "no" for an answer, of course they kept on me, but I was strong and eventually my stamina paid off. In the end, one of the players complained about last year that there were too many players on the bench, so it was a good thing I didn't play. Plus, I was told the cops beefed up their team and actually won this year, so it was fortuitous that my incompetent presence did not impede the success (or lack thereof) of our team.

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

Happy Valentine's Day

Hope everyone had a nice Valentine's Day. We had quite the day, traveling through perilous conditions and playing plenty of hockey. The State Tournament has started and we had the unfortunate draw of not only playing down in Manchester, but being the only team to play 4 games. All the other teams play 3, so that means we get to go down there for a third day. In all fairness, if there is such a thing, we are closer to Manchester than the other teams, some of whom have to travel from as far as Highgate, which is about 10 miles from the Canadian border.

Since the times of the games weren't too bad, we decided to forgo a hotel and commute. The drive takes about 1.5 hours in good conditions, but we didn't have good conditions, and we had places to be. In the beginning of the season R mentioned that she would like for us to skip one game on this day since it's Valentine's Day and also our anniversary. I was all for it, but the regular season ended last week, and now the State Tourney begins, so it the circumstances aren't so simple. It's playoff time, and the stakes are bigger.

R understood, so the plan was as follows: drive to Manchester, play two games, then drive back to Hanover to meet A&R to see the movie that we wanted to see, the Oscar nominated animated shorts. Then go home to sleep and make the drive all over again. Talk about a crazy day. We did, however, pull it off, though it was a little crazy. Not the best way to celebrate this special day, but sometimes you have to roll with it. I'll be glad when we get can get a break from this madness known as hockey.

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

Monday, February 9, 2015

Antarctica Movie

Speaking of Antarctica, we went to see a movie about the place over at the Hop at Dartmouth. I was a lot different than I thought, though I should have read the blurb and this would not have been the case. I thought it was going to be about penguins and glaciers and all the cold things you see in Antarctica, but what it was really about was the people who live there and what life is like. It was interesting, just different than I expected. They described it as "breathtaking," so what sort of imagery does that elicit? We brought the kids along because we thought they might find it interesting, which they did.

The premise behind the film is that there are several research stations in Antarctica and they function all year 'round, which means that people have to live there to keep things moving along. Once spring and summer hit a huge influx of people arrive, but by fall they've all left and the only ones remaining are the "locals," none of whom, as you might guess, were actually born there. In fact, children and pets are not allowed.

It's a whole sub-culture of people, many of whom return year after year. It's definitely a different way of life, though not too far off from life in New England, especially with the weather we've been having. The kids enjoyed it and they even suggested that they might be interested in visiting the place, though I'm not sure that's a trip I would take.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Pond Hockey

A couple of weeks back after his game N took part in a pond hockey tournament with his teammates, and it was quite the event, not so much because it was big and bold, but because of how serious the participants seemed to take it. People practiced and prepared for it, and there was no messing around. Apparently our friends won the championship last time because the likes of GG and CG on the team, who are formidable players. This year they couldn't make it and so they scraped the bottom of the barrel and asked me to play. For good measure they also recruited DW who is a star on the ice, so they were in good shape.

It was a little rushed but we headed out after the game and drove over the hill to the neighboring town. As it turns out, MB had recruited extra players in the event that some couldn't make it, but they all made it, so we ended up with too many skaters. As a result, I agreed to sit out so the kids could all play. They're better than me, anyway, but it turns out the team they were competing against were ready to win. They four adults and two kids who were late teens, versus our team which was all kids under the age of 11. We ended up losing by a goal, but it seemed a little unfair to be pitted against all those adults.

Either way, it was fun, and there were burgers and hot dogs to be eaten. Now since we need more things to do in our lives, after the game we headed over to the big city to meet mom and A to see a movie about Antarctica, but more on that later.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Last Weekend

If you can believe this (I know I can't), this is the final weekend of the regular season for hockey. How crazy is that? Next week the state tournament begins, which is basically a playoff for youth hockey, and it lasts a few weeks, and then it's all done. I have to say, it's been a grind of a season, and I view the end with mixed emotions. I love hockey, but the amount of time and angst involved in the whole process can wear a man down.

Of course, hockey doesn't have to end there. There is spring hockey, and if you want, hockey camps over the summer, but let's not rush into things. It's good to have a break and remind ourselves that there are other things in life. Then again, maybe not.

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

No Whiners, Please

I still struggle with being a coach amongst such giants of coaching, but I've decided to stay the course and finish what I've started, even though I don't want to. This has been an interesting lesson for me, and I view it with mixed emotions. On the one hand, it's not easy to be around a bunch of high octane, heavy-hitting hockey players who played at the Division I college level. That's serious stuff. I am constantly reminded of how limited my abilities are, and yet I'm trying to teach these kids the game of hockey. I feel like I make a fool of myself every practice since most of the players are better than me, though they are respectful and well behaved, so I'm fortunate on that count. I sort of just do what I'm told, and I guess I'm not that clueless. Having played sports my entire life, I can see that there are some parallels amongst every sport.

On the other hand, I am glad that I can be there to help my kids learn the game and feel comfortable in an pretty competitive environment. I also think it's good for them to see their dad trying to do something he's not that great at but is trying to learn. Finally, from my own perspective, it's good to operate outside my comfort zone now and then. Not only does it temper the male ego, which is in constant need of tempering, but I seem to grow from the process... I think. At some point in our lives, as we get to be old farts, we stop trying new things and challenging ourselves, sequestering ourselves in our the comfort of our routines. I do it all the time, but as a transplant in these parts, I can honestly say that every day is a new experience. Life in New England ain't Southern California, that's for sure.

I view this as a good thing, just like the change in seasons, traveling, and learning to play hockey. It keeps your brain fresh and bolsters your constitution while reminding you that life can be an adventure if you want it to be. The question is, how much adventure does a guy really need?

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

Euro Breakfast

The search for the ideal breakfast continues, and in the spirit of reducing our sugar intake, I have once again taken matters into my own hands. I usually eat two breakfasts by the time I ever get out the door, and the reason for this is because I am an early riser. I am up around 5:00AM, so if I get out by 9:00AM, that 4 hours where I need to fuel up, and since I love to eat so much, I'm happy to indulge that need. To decrease my risk of adding to my spare tire, I eat small meals. Usually I'll eat half a bagel after my coffee, then a few hours later I'll eat a small bowl of cereal.

This is where the problems arise... actually, R would say the problem begins with eating that bagel, which is pure simple carbs. Bad stuff, but I love bagels, and training to be a real man is a great way to burn off those carbs. Either way, the cereal is packed with refined sugar. If you eat processed cereal, there is just no way of getting around either tons of added sugar, nasty preservatives, or high cost. I tried eating Grape Nuts and could barely choke down one bowl.

I decided to look to our good friends across the Atlantic for some inspiration, and came up with idea of making muesli, which I happen to like. If you go online you can find a countless number of recipes, so came up with a hybrid. Basically I take 5 minute multi-grain oats, add almonds, coconut, raisins, and dates, bake lightly with maple syrup, and voila, suddenly I'm transported to a villa in Tuscany, eating muesli with my goat cheese, olive oil, and tomatoes. You can't beat it.

Personally I think it tastes just like granola, without the added fat. Sure, there's maple syrup, but you can't live in New England without imbibing in a little maple syrup now and then. Plus, the kids like it, and for the most part, the stuff is pretty healthy, so we are golden. I love when that happens.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to the 10 cent designer for the pic.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

What Am I Doing Here?

This is often a question I ask myself as I sit there in hockey practice, not to mention games. In fact, I seem to say it constantly because I'm at the arena pretty much every day of the week. I think things were much easier last year when the kids were younger and coaching hockey was not as intense and the kids were still small enough to where it was more fun. Now that they are older, the competition level is higher and dare I say, the stakes have risen. As a consequence, the coaching is more serious and there is less room for clueless coaches like myself.

Which begs the question, what exactly am I doing here? I have to confess, coaching is a bit more challenging this year, and just to plug that point home, I have to do it 4 out of 5 days during the week. I am happy to help out since I'm there anyway, but at some point you realize that you're just sort of in the way and the kids are heads and shoulders above me in ability. Plus, with the exception of myself, the coaches are exceptionally capable, and magnifying my lack of ability and knowledge.

I have no doubt that on some level the coaches appreciate my helping out, and now and then I'll throw out a nugget of wisdom that makes sense, but let's face it, for the most part, I'm way out of my league. I think every now and then there is a suggestion from the others that this is the case, but I also know that a lot of this is my own neurotic self-consciousness and lack of confidence. I feel as if I have no basis for teaching hockey since I don't know the game, though I guess I am learning.

I toyed with the idea of quitting because N's team has 3 other coaches who are amazing hockey players, unlike me. On the other hand, everyone is busy, and there are times when I have been helpful because it boils down to one or two of us on the ice. Whatever be the case, I will ride this season out. I don't want to send a message to the kids that it's good to quit when things are uncomfortable. Finish what you started, right?

Plus, the kids are having fun, and on some level they probably (hopefully) appreciate my presence on the ice. Then again, maybe not.

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

Constant Search

We are cruising along with our current gear for winter sports, but I am still in the hunt for a couple of new things for the kids. First off, I bought bargain basement skis for N and I have to say, they are not very attractive. Now I know that worrying how skis look is ridiculous, but you have to have empathy for teenagers, where image is an important part of daily life. This is readily apparent in the way they dress, especially in freezing cold weather. Whatever be the case, I am determined to find new skis for her. We'll get through this season but I'll keep my eyes out. To her credit, A has never complained and has even gone as far as to say that she's fine with her skis and doesn't need new ones, but she's also alluded to them being ugly and how she would be happy with cooler ones. Now I know I'm being ridiculous by putting undue emphasis on something trivial, but she is, in my opinion, deserving of such attention. Besides, it's not an urgent situation, and I can simply keep my eyes open for any whopping deals that come our way. I have a year to get it done. This past winter there were countless ski swaps and consignment sales but it seemed like every time they happened, we were busy with hockey or something else. Total bummer. Next time will be different, I'll make sure of that. I'm not planning on spending a lot of money, but I can't assume I'll find skis for $10-20, either. This is where the patience and legwork come in, and I have time. This season I was under the gun because by the time ski season had arrived, I still had not found her skis, and when I went to Hendersons, the pickings were slim. My bad.

The second thing I need to work on is a new bike for N, and this one will not be easy. Decent mountain bikes are hard to find used, so we may end up getting him a new one. It means a lot to him so I think it's worth it and something he'll use regularly and for years to come. Since we're talking about a decent investment, I'll have to confer with R, but I think if I save up diligently, but the time spring rolls around, I should have enough to make a dent in the cost. That's my goal, so let's see how it goes. Make it happen, right?

For now, we'll maintain the status quo and make the most of what we have, which is a lot. I'm not one to ever take anything for granted, but I do think every now and then you have to upgrade, especially when you're a kid who strives to be cool, and every kids wants to be cool. Somehow I think this is going to be a lifelong endeavor.

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

A Helping Hand

We've been hitting the ski hill at a pretty good clip, but it sure took some doing to get over that initial hump and just make it to the hill in the first place. A week or two back we were determined to make it to S6 to get their great mid-week deal, but we had many logistical hurdles that at first glance seemed insurmountable. First off, I had to do some work and A had to finish her editing on her video. Both A&N had hockey practice that evening, and of course R had to get to work. This meant that we had to come up with a plan, because N was ready to hit the slopes.

As it turned out, we found a helping hand in our good friend, AM. She was planning on skiing that day, as well, and she was happy to pick up N and get him to the slopes. Hallelujah. I made lunch for all of us and sent N off with his lunch and ski gear with AM. I then finished making supper (ratatouille) and packed lunch for A and I, then stuffed the car with hockey gear and ski equipment for all of us. I took A to the studio and then headed out to do some work. Afterward I got A, took her to the ski hill where we rendezvoused with N and skied for the rest of the day.

As the ski hill was closing, we got ourselves together and headed over the rink where we had hockey for the next two hours. Then it was back home where mom was waiting with a hot meal and warm fire. Needless to say, dad was quite exhausted and ready for a nap, but happy to have pulled off a fun day that was in theory a logistical nightmare. Thanks to AM for coming through for us. It wasn't the first time, and somehow I don't think it will be the last.

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

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Life of Grind

Life has been firing on all cylinders lately, not that I'm complaining, but sometimes when I stop and take a long look at what's going on, it's pretty amazing. This year we have incorporated skiing into our repertoire, and it's doubled the amount of equipment that we need while seemingly tripling our level of activity. A testament to the versatility of our Honda Fit, I might add.

In years past hockey has dominated our lives, and for good reason. With the kids playing in a higher age bracket, they have practice 3X a week and games both weekend days. Since they play on different teams, we're pretty much on the ice 7 days a week. It's crazy, who has time for skiing? Actually, we as homeschoolers do. When we were neophytes we didn't think it wise to ski and get tired before the almighty hockey practice, but we've since come to our sense and realized that's not true. There are good mid-week deals to be had locally, and in combination with knowing the right people, we've been able to ski on the cheap on weekdays. In fact, I think N skied four times last week, including the world class ski hill at Killington.

This means, however, that my life is all the more complicated because I have to coordinate meals, shopping, part time work, getting the kids to and from the ski hill, and then to hockey. Here is what a typical day might look like for me. I wake up and if we have hockey and skiing, I need to make supper in the AM, as well as lunch for later that day. I will whip together some soup or stew and a veggie dish, maybe some pasta and bread, then sandwiches and snacks. If I'm going to work, I'll leave after that's done but not before loading all the skis and hockey gear into my car. R will oversee the kids' school work and then take them to their morning activity. I will get a few hours of work in and then meet up with the crew wherever they are at, at which point R will go into work and I will take over.

We've been doing late morning skiing over at S6, so I'll take them and meet up with friends, best case scenario before noon. That leaves us about 4 hours of skiing, which is fine with me. The kids will eat lunch in the car and by the time we're at the ski hill, we're ready to rock and roll. We'll ski until closing, and then head over to the rink for hockey practice into the evening. Then we'll come home and by that time, R is back from work and has heated up supper and built a fire, so we have a nice warm house to come back to.

How's that for living the good life? I'm glad we're getting lots of skiing in, it's a great sport and something the kids can continue to do long after hockey has left the picture. Plus, it has the cool factor, especially if you're a hot dog skier like some of us are. The kids are trying out snowboarding, as well, so we're definitely putting the load capacity of our Fit to the test. I'm sure it will pass with flying colors.

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