My Tribe

I don’t even know where to start with this. I just know that I need to share. I’ve always been fortunate enough to have had a Tribe, a group of close friends, an inner circle, a #bestfriendtier. There’s some that have been there since the beginning. Some who were only there for specific periods in my life, and others who have just recently shown up. Let me tell you about them, my Tribe.

These are the people who have been with you at the lowest of lows and the highest of highs. The personal cheerleaders when you need it, or the voice of reason in the middle of a storm. The ones who get excited for new opportunities that come your way. Celebrate with you. Are genuinely happy for you, and look at you like you are the best thing to happen since pickle juice Caesars. The ones who have the nicknames, and that’s the only way you identify each other. The inside jokes, the deep bellied laughs, the memories, the stories, and the finishing of sentences. They share memes, new music, shoes and even food with you.

But not only that. They pick you up, sometimes literally, off the floor. They cry with you, weep, sob, dry heave, and sit in silence. They listen. They hold you, and they pray (even when they’re not the praying type). They know exactly what to say, or not to say. They send you all of their love, and you know that they actually mean it. They check up on you, and ask how you’re doing. Usually it’s out of the blue and when you get that text you’re always relieved that they sent it. They hold your hand, and feel all the feels with you. They keep your insecurities, and your deepest of secrets close to their heart – and it’s ok, because they are your people, your Tribe. They have seen the ugly and they have made the choice to stay anyway – because they love you.

Sometimes you need to talk to them everyday. Sometimes weeks or even months pass before a text is sent or a call is made. But the thing with your Tribe is that it doesn’t matter how long it has been, you pick up right where you left off. There will be something that reminds you of them and you’ll have to share it. A song. A meme. A pet peeve. A situation. An allergy. You name it – if it reminds me of someone in my tribe – they are getting it sent to them or told about it. And chances are whatever it is that nudges you to share with them will either make them laugh out loud or smile (and not just a regular smile – one that you feel in your heart – and gives you a warm fuzzy feeling).

Everything that I’ve mentioned above has at one point or another been done for me. I would do all of that and more for any one of my Tribe in a heartbeat. Some are family, and some are friends who are family, but my love for them is fierce. And I am so thankful, and grateful for this Tribe. And I truly hope that you were thinking of your people, your tribe, your besties when you read this. Tell them you love them, or send them a ridiculous meme (if that’s how you show love). They will smile or laugh depending on what you sent them – and they will appreciate it.

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A different perspective.

Two days left in 2018 and all I can say is – thank goodness. I mean really – did anyone have an amazing, super awesome 2018?!? If you did – good! I’m glad someone did 😂

Maybe it’s because I’m getting “old”, (I’m hitting my mid-life stride, even though I still feel younger than what my age says) but after the craziness of this past year, and who am I kidding 2019 will still be crazy, I’m wanting to be more intentional with my time, and my space. So here are some of my musings as we go into this next year.

Live more. Go on more adventures, by myself, with friends, with family. Explore more and see more of this beautiful country we live in.

Take it all in – the good, the bad, the in between. Life is full of lessons – what we do with them and how we learn from them is up to us.

Read more, learn more, listen more, love more.

Be more aware – of who and what gets my time, energy and attention.

Give more – more compliments, more smiles, more hugs.

Worry less. About other people’s opinions, and things I can’t control.

Less stuff, less clutter, less things, less social media.

Be present. In the lives of those who mean the most to me. More meaningful conversations, more memories made.

Sounds like quite the list – but I like a good challenge and I’m looking forward to see what this next year brings.

Just your average Hockey Mom

You’ll see them pulling up to the rink in their black or silver SUV’s or navy blue, silver or red Minivan – Bass pumping – 99.9% chance it’s AC/DC’s Thunderstruck you hear that’s making the sliding doors on the van vibrate. The back hatch opens up and all you see is doors flying open, kids climbing out and a whirlwind of hockey bags, sticks and water bottles making a beeline to the door of the rink. The team bus van pulls into the closest parking spot, the two front doors open (because Hockey Mom’s LOVE to carpool) and there is your first look at the classic Canadian Hockey Mom. Chances are she’s still singing/humming Thunderstruck (or my personal favourite Down With Webster’s – Time to Win), travel mug filled with Coffee and Baileys creamer in one hand, fleece blanket draped over one arm, the “Mom Bag” slung over one shoulder, and her kids forgotten water bottle in the other hand.

If for some reason you don’t see her pull into the parking lot – walk into any small town Manitoba rink (and I would speculate it is very similar in any province) and you will be able to pick her out. She will be wearing the official hockey mom attire – skinny dark jeans or black leggings, paired with either knee high brown leather boots, Blundstones, or runners, hoodie, puffy vest (Columbia winter jacket if it gets really cold), and the ever present black leather mittens. Accessories vary – she could be wearing an infinity scarf, touque, and if you are lucky you will find one who is wearing a pin-on button with a picture of her little hockey cherub on it. They will almost, always be standing in a circle talking about the weather, how cold/hot the rink is that they are in, any new ideas on how to get rid of the “hockey stink”, and if they should get a mocha to drink before or after the 1st period, and the quality of the rink coffee.

Black leather mitts ✔️ fleece blankets ✔️

If you want to know anything – ANYTHING – about hockey in rural Manitoba just ask a Hockey Mom. Best food, worst food, coldest rink, rinks that are licensed, cleanest dressing rooms or just rink cleanliness is general, best tournaments to attend, where not to stay on overnight trips, where to stay on overnight trips, driving times to any rural rink and/or Winnipeg sports complexes – ask a hockey mom. She will tell you about her experiences and will bring into the conversation reliable witnesses (other hockey moms, and occasionally a hockey dad).

Each team also has specific Hockey Moms
The Medical Hockey Mom who is basically a walking pharmacy and is probably a nurse in real life. Tylenol? check – Advil? check –  Bandaids/Polysporin/gauze/splint/eyedrops? check, check, check, check, check (and that’s just in her purse – crutches are in the vehicle)
The Backup Hockey Mom who has thrown in extra socks, jock, under armour, elbow pads, water bottle, skates in 4 different sizes, a couple of siblings that could fill in on short notice,  and just about any other piece of equipment that can be used as backup for any kid who might have forgotten to pack something.
The Snack Hockey Mom – your kid will never go hungry – she will have fruit, veggies, Gatorade, muffins (options of full gluten, no gluten, paleo, vegan and keto) – and coupons to any fast food restaurants in the vicinity of the rink. She is the queen of negotiating group meals at sit down restaurants and will make sure the players get their meals first. No one goes hungry on this hockey mom’s watch.
The Lucky Hockey Mom – probably the most humble and quiet person you know, and you can’t help but like her – but there is an invisible horseshoe tucked in somewhere on her. This mom will win the 50/50 draws every other game, a looney stick, at least 2 or 3 prize draws at tournaments, the lottery, a brand new car, trip to Cabo and free canteen shifts.
The Updating the Missing Hockey Moms Hockey Mom. If for some reason you can’t be at a game or tournament this mom will update you on the score, the quality of the ice, the intelligence of the refs, how dirty the other team is and a complete stats analysis of your child’s play on the ice. These updates will be sent via Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Text – or any combination of said social media. There is no sugar coating – it will be like you are right there watching the game! (And you very well could be if she’s streaming it live on Facebook!)

These women will literally wake up at the crack of dawn, feed their children cliff bars breakfast, load them up and drive them to where they need to be to play a sport they love. They will travel any distance, and in any type of weather to watch their kid. They will cheer and clap every single game. They will also be ready to give a death glare, and a few choice words (with back up from her fellow hockey moms) to any other hockey mom/dad from the opposing team if they’re being idiots unruly and to the officials wearing stripes if they have misplaced their glasses for the game. Don’t mess with hockey moms they are always fully caffeinated and can go from Suzy homemaker mode to full on Mama Bear mode in .02 seconds.

Now, I write this because I am a Hockey Mom. Some of my best friends are hockey moms. We have travelled together, have spent weekends together, have celebrated wins together and have driven home together in very quiet vehicles after tough losses. There are days when we have to be a hockey mom to more than one kid and to each others kids. But we wouldn’t want it any other way. To you Hockey Moms who are just starting this journey – buckle up – it’s quite the adventure! To you Hockey Moms who are in the thick of it – games/tournaments/skills – enjoy every minute – even the exhausting ones. To you Hockey Moms whose babies are all grown up and might not be playing anymore, you are always welcome to come to the rink and watch ours, it might not be the same – but hey – there’s always enough fleece blanket for one more to sit down and cheer for our kids.

Lest We Forget

Today we remember.
We remember those who left and never came back.
We remember those who came back and were never the same.
We remember those who were too young, but went anyway.
We remember those who stayed home and prayed, sent letters and care packages and waited anxiously for loved ones to return.
We remember those they liberated.
We remember the sacrifice and the freedoms they fought for.
We remember the stories they shared – pieces of memory of love and loss, of friendship and hate, of a time that can’t be erased.
Today we remember.
Lest We Forget.

My great-grandfather, Alvin Weidenhamer, was a signalman in the Canadian artillery during the First World War – a part of the Canadian Expedition Force.  According to his attestation paper he signed up at the young age of 22 years, 9 months, and on December 16th, 1915  – 9 days before Christmas.  His occupation listed was Farmer, he was not married at the time and he embarked on a journey that would take him overseas into the heart of the fighting of The Great War.
I knew growing up that he had been a soldier in the war but I honestly didn’t even know his story till a few years ago when my kids started asking questions about our family history and any information we had to share at school for Remembrance Day.
I found out that Grandpa had received a medal for “Bravery in the Field”. And his story is as follows (thanks to my Mom’s cousin Murray for passing this on to me) –

The army was in retreat – the weather was wet and rainy. The engineers had fashioned some sort of road over the soggy terrain using large wooden pallets.  Everyone was having a hard time staying on this wooden road. It was muddy, slippery and unstable.  Many men were falling off were at risk of drowning, and there were some who were jumping off the road and into the mud to help save those in trouble. As chance would have it, Grandpa managed to jump in and haul a British officer to safety – and that’s how he got his medal.  He wasn’t terribly proud of that medal; he felt that everyone there should have received one who was there helping.

But I think that just goes to show the character of this man. He didn’t feel that what he did was out of the ordinary, or extraordinary.  He was only doing what any other caring human being would have done – helped those who needed help.

Another story that he shared with Murray, and from what I understand he didn’t talk about his time during the war very often, was one where he was caught , in crossfire on one occasion. The army had retreated and he was left in no-man’s land.  As a signalman he was close to the frontline troops, and close to enemy lines,  his job to observe where the shells were landing on the enemy territory and signal back to the gunners so they could adjust their aim.
So there he was, left in no-man’s land, caught between the two forces.  He had to lie in a foxhole for three days while the battle continued and the artillery shells flew back and forth overhead.  The foxhole he took refuge in was also occupied by three German soldiers- all dead.  Three days and three nights. Alone. I can imagine it felt more like an eternity.  By the time Grandpa could leave that place, he felt he knew those dead German soldiers. They were young men, just like him.  They had parents, just like him. They had brothers and sisters, just like him.  And they had friends for whom they were willing to give their own lives for, just like him.

I can’t imagine what it was like. But we can honour their sacrifice and remember what they gave and keep sharing their stories so we never have to repeat and go through what they had to go through. 100 years later, and their stories are still remembered.  Lest We Forget.
#CanadaRemembers #LestWeForget #WeWillRememberThem #RemembranceDay #100years

What’s in a Name

I called you Grandma and you called me Joey, and it has been one whole year since I’ve heard you say my name. The last time I saw you – I got a small squeeze on my hand and one last smile on your face when I leaned in and whispered “I’m here Grandma, it’s Joey”. There are a handful of people who are allowed to call me that -Joey- and anyone else who tries to call me Joey will be informed that that specific nickname is reserved for certain people. Those people are close to my heart just like you. And I don’t know why it bothers me when I hear other people calling me that – but it just seems wrong when it isn’t someone that is on the short list. Your favourite people had nicknames – and it’s something that I find myself doing as well – giving my favourite people nicknames. And I do it whether they like it or not – just like you. They learn to love it because it is said with love. So this morning, while I drink my coffee I’ll smile as I remember you and I’ll probably cry a little because out of all the voices that call me Joey – yours is the one that meant the most and the one I miss the most. Till we meet again – love you lots – Joey

Put Me in Coach

I always thought that there would be nothing better than playing a sport you love to play. You know the process, the game day prep, the pump up tunes, team meeting, getting hyped, the adrenaline rush when you take the field or go up to bat, and just the team atmosphere.  But I was wrong. There is something that matches that feeling of playing a sport you love – coaching a sport you love.

My goal, as a coach, is to develop, not only the skills they need to play the game, but the love for the game. I want them to appreciate the little nuances of the game – to look at a team we are playing and have them see what they are doing well and where the weaknesses are.  I love it when I look up from writing the line up and see them watching the other team warming up, talking about how what they see. I want them to understand the game – so they can, in turn, coach the next generation to love this game.

This team though – this year was so much fun.  This team has so much potential and a few times throughout the season I saw flashes of brilliance out on the field and I got excited. I was excited because it was starting to click – they were starting to not just go through the motions but they were playing the game, understanding the game. We had so many compliments from other coaches about our catchers, our infield and how they covered and played, our pitchers mechanics, our base running and just how consistent they were in playing the game.  I watched each and everyone of our girls do something that we worked on in practice and have it transfer over to a game.  Just to highlight – a headfirst slide, delayed stealing (that even surprised me), a grand slam,  a bomb of a throw from Left Field to home to get the runner out, framed pitches, and change-up pitches. They played as a team, they won as a team and lost as a team – and I can hands-down guarantee, that win or lose, we were having the most fun out there. Just ask any one of the girls on this team what time it is and you let me know what they say! #dingertime

A huge shout out to my co-coaches  – the endless energy and hours they put in, the way they know how to explain a concept or what to say to get the most out of the girls.  I could not do this without them.  It takes a team to coach a team, and I am so glad these two are on my team.  Kali – who has been there from the start is the calm to my storm. She has a way of getting the girls to dig deep and play from their hearts. Her quiet confidence keeps me (somewhat) calm on the bench.  Chantal – one of the best decisions I’ve ever made was asking her to help coach these kids. I’m not sure if I’ve met anyone who loves this sport more than she does and that infectious love of the sport was instantly passed onto the team. The wealth of knowledge she brought to this team is priceless.

Our season ended at provincials this past weekend, our goal was to make it out of our pool and play on Sunday , which we did.  And when our season ended, we did what we do best, had fun.  Team pictures – water fight – and crushing a piñata.  Thank you girls for a great season – it was one to remember and one I won’t forget.  I am so proud to be your coach and I can’t wait for next year. #gocents

On the Road Again….

It’s that time in our family where the meeting of winter sports meet summer sports.  Our oldest is still playing second season hockey and has started ball practices, our middle is still prepping for her karate grading  and has also started her ball practices and our youngest is just dreaming of seeding fields on the farm – oh and his ball starts this week! My husband is going over the farm machinery, checking fields and looking after all the details for spring time work and seeding on the farm. And here I am prepping my piano students for May exams, coaching Ally’s ball team and basically organizing and scheduling our crazy life for the next couple of months.  Honestly – I wouldn’t have it any other way! We are all doing what we love to do and even though we might seem like we are going in 8 different directions at once – I do enjoy some of the one-on-one time I get with the kids because we are going in different directions.

There are a couple of things I do – prep-wise – that keep us going in the right direction.  A visible weekly schedule  – I had a fancy schmancy dry erase monthly calendar but honestly it wasn’t the best. It was overwhelming to look at the whole month as opposed to just a week at a time.  SO I pulled out a piece of paper and put it in a page protector. (Ya I’m crafty like that)   I fill it out weekly with a dry erase marker – with Manitoba weather chances are ball games are going to be cancelled and rescheduled. The kids and look and see where they are going – my farmer husband can see which towns his kids are playing if he has a chance to get away from the field – and I have a visual to see what’s going on and where everyone needs to be.  It’s cheap, it’s easy and it works.

Another prep I do for the controlled chaos is pack a snack bag.  My kids get off the school bus close to 4:00 pm and we are usually on the road again (if they have a practice or a game) by 5:00pm.  That means an early supper or a supper on the go, and once their activity is done they are hungry! Scratch that – they are HANGRY! So to feed the wild beasts I have a bag of snacks that goes in the vehicle with us.  Usually filled with snacks they like and will fill them up or tie them over till we get home.  This week we have almonds, Clif Bars, fruit cups, applesauce, granola bars.  I’ll also put fresh fruit and veggies in there or any baking that I’ve done (muffins, cookies etc).  Some juice boxes and Powerade or Gatorade will be there too , as well as the kids water bottles. Along with some wet-naps, napkins and spoons.

SO hopefully this crazy, chaotic season will run smoothly and everyone will get to the places they need to be safely and well-fed.  Moms on the go – what are your go-to time saving methods you use? Let’s help each other get through the busy seasons of life!