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.

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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!

Who do you think you are?

I don’t know if you’ve seen the TV show Who Do You Think You Are? , but it’s a show where celebrities look into their ancestry and get flown all over the world to discover where they came from. Genealogy has always been an interest of mine and I love family history – the stories, the traditions, the similarities that seem to be passed down from generation to generation.

So when Ally asked about getting an Ancestry DNA kit the historian in me jumped for joy.  I honestly thought it was just a phase she was going through and didn’t give much thought to it.  But when the DNA kit kept popping up on her birthday and Christmas wish list – why not? She is curious about who she is – where she came from. And if the promotion/advertising department at Ancestry is wondering if their advertising is working – she’s wondering what percentage of Native American she is (sorry sweetie but I’m thinking eastern European is going to be the biggest percentage for you – just because the lady on the commercial is part Native American doesn’t mean you are!)

They way I see it – if we’re going to find out where your roots started you need to know the people too! So I signed us up for the Ancestry free-trial and stared to plug away at the family tree.  Luckily for me I had a Grandma who LOVED family history and finding random, long-lost relatives. I know a bit of our family history on both sides – it gets more fuzzy once we get to my great grandparents.

Following the stories and paper trail on how our ancestors made their way to Canada – the different stories and how we ended up where we are is something that is so intriguing.  And it truly is something I want my kids to know! In two days of researching Ally and I have found out that we have some Irish and Scottish heritage to go along with our Mennonite last names.  Some relatives came up to Canada via Mexico and the US, and that our Dutch relatives and the Dutch government have impeccable record keeping skills! Not gonna lie – the history nerd in me gets a little giddy when a little green leaf with an ancestry hint pops up on my screen.

So today January 1, 2018 Ally filled her little vial full of spit and it is all packed up and ready to be mailed away! Results to come in 6-8.  And if you need to find me in the next couple of weeks (during the free trial period) you can find me printing off Canadian census records, birth/baptism/marriage and death certificates and messaging fellow relatives who love to dig into our family history. (thanks Viv for all the help so far!) And if any of my Loewen, Baron, Weidenhamer relatives have any info to add to the family tree (or want to check the info out)  you can take a look the Neufeld/Loewen tree Ally and I have been working on.

The Move

WE ARE IN! We have officially and successfully (?) moved down the road and around the corner – literally. We had come to the point where the house we were in was too small and either we build a new house or we come to some sort of arrangement with my in-laws where they moved out and we moved into their much larger farm house.  I mean – our house was adequate fine, but for the past 6 years we had been living without a functional basement.  The flood of 2011 paired with a high water table and ALL.OF.THE.WATER in the Turtle Mountains running through our basement to Whitewater Lake every spring – it was time for an upgrade.  They boys were sharing  room, we had one bathroom for five people (pre-teen kids should count as 3 people so it felt like 11 people vying for bathroom time), our kitchen was our dining room and the living was also the playroom (due to the basement being unusable).  It physically felt like we were living in a 3 bedroom apartment – BUT- we had enough stuff to fill a house.

We originally moved into our old place in the summer of 2006 – I was very pregnant with baby #1 and it is the house where all three of our babies came home too. I remember having friends over and fitting 8 adults plus kids (only a couple because it was before we all had babies) at a table in our kitchen/dining room and asking whoever was sitting closest to the oven to move because the garlic bread had to come out.  It is in that house where our kids had a lot of their baby/childhood firsts – laughs, birthdays, meltdowns, projectile vomit, Christmas mornings – the good and the bad.  It is the home where we learned about births and deaths.  Where we grew from a young married couple to a family of 5.  In the last couple of years you could say we were cramped, squished,  cozy in the house.

Hallway Hockey

Mini-sticks upstairs #heshootshescores

 

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One of my favourite photos – When my Grandpa John came down to visit only weeks before he passed away.  Here he’s holding baby Johnny. 

 

 

One of the many birthday parties around the kitchen table 

 

This spring we were talking with my husbands parents and they knew we needed more space and that they were not ready to move to town.  So they bought a trailer to move onto our yard and so began the process of swapping yards and the move down the road and around the corner.  After months of getting everything ready and packed – it happened.  My goal was to always be moved by Christmas – we had to  – there was no room in my living room at the old house for a Christmas tree and I wasn’t about to string lights and put a star on the boxes that consumed the living space. So the first week of December  – we did it.  We moved – and the heavens opened and the angels sang.

 

The piano move 

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Moving Day! Follow that trailer! 

 

The space – I have never been so thankful for a basement and two bathrooms and a separate dining room/kitchen.  Everyone has their personal space back.  It’s wonderful.  I have a functioning dishwasher – it’s amazing – its my new bff.  Everything has a place – there is no overlap of rooms – the living room is not the playroom – the kitchen is not the dining room – our bedroom is not the farm office.  We can have people over now and we have space for them to sit in the living room (well actually we can comfortably sit 12 in living room at the moment because my husband has moved all the couches in there and we have, what I call, surround seating)

Yes, there are some renovations we would like to do – but for now – we are happy and working towards making my husbands childhood home – our home.

 

Getting settled 

Tree is up! Bring on Christmas

Literally down the road and around the corner! 

 

The Lake 

There’s something about it – I can’t quite put my finger on it but – there is just something about being at the lake. And honestly – it doesn’t even matter which lake.

I grew up going to Rock Lake. My Grandma and Grandpa Baron had a cabin there and we would go as a family and have a great time! My fondest memories include being in the hammock, fruit salad, playing cribbage and swimming in the lake. There was probably a water fight involved at some point and family sitting and laughing around the fire till all hours of the night.

Jen and Jo go tubing – well laughing 😂

Then we transitioned into the camping mode and numerous days were spent in a pop up trailer at Spruce Woods Provincial Park – not really a lake – but a tributary of the Assiniboine river with a wonderful beach. This is where us girls (Mom and my sisters) would pull in and set up. Dad would come if the haying was done or if he got rained out. We biked the trails, hauled the cooler down to the beach and just swam and swam and swam.

And then there was the lake at Minnedosa – the lake where I learned to water ski. So.Much.Fun! I don’t remember exactly who was helping me get up on the skis but it was either my Dad or my Grandpa Loewen. And the words were “keep your knees bent, handle to your chest and let the boat pull you up” and that’s what I did! The feeling of gliding along the water – no other feeling like it!

When I was old enough to go to camp and then be a counsellor at camp – there was Clear Lake. The memories – oh the memories. Canoe trips, the floating dock, the big red double slide, slalom skiing, tubing – and maybe some late night swimming 😂. This is what summer is made of!

For those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to grow up going to a lake or lakes – I’m truly sorry! There is just something about it. The world stops, time stops and you are just there. There is no schedule or alarms. There is just fun, family, friends and food.

And now we have been spending time at Lake Metigoshe. We are fortunate enough to have friends who have a family cabin and boat and now my kids can learn to “water-sport” and enjoy lake life. And I truly hope that when they grow up they are pulled to the lake. Pulled into the break from reality it provides  – the rejuvenation it gives to your soul – and the quietness and stillness it provides. That they are pulled to the fun side of watersporting and swimming and just going for a tour around the lake to check things out.

So go – go find a lake – take the time to unwind and to just relax. It’s worth it and you’ll find that it becomes a part of you – you’ll feel it calling. There is just something about The Lake.

So you want to be a jerk 

As a parent my goal is to raise kids that are functioning members of society – that they have quality friends and are, in return, quality friends – that they are kind and compassionate, show empathy,  have a good work ethic, and have a deep faith that they can lean on when times get tough. And I thought, maybe naively, that all parents wanted that for their kids. But I’ve found out that this is probably not true for everyone. And it makes me sad and angry and annoyed.

I shared a story about what my son is going through on my Instagram yesterday. He’s a good athlete, he loves sports and he loves to play sports. It actually doesn’t matter which sport – if he can play – he will. Unfortunately there will always be people who are not kind and will try and wreck what you love. So a team mate had told him that he sucked and shouldn’t be playing and was a crappy hitter. And my son, in return used that negativity and turned it into fuel and had a great game.

But that’s life isn’t it? I really shouldn’t have to teach my 10 year old that if he is good at something – there will be people who will try and pick him apart and put him down. He is in a class of athletes and there are some great athletes in that class – but already there’s an underlying jealousy developing between the kids. Not all of them – just a select few – but still – why? Why is it so hard to cheer and be happy for a kid who is excelling in what they love? Whether that be in sport or music or whatever their hobby is. My kid is not the best athlete in his class but we encourage him to be happy for his teammates, his friends and his classmates – to celebrate with them.

Just an example – there’s a couple of kids in this class who were breaking records left, right and center at the school track meet. The group of boys went up to the sheet where the results were being posted and one of Johnny’s friends was pumped that these kids were breaking records – he was so excited and happy for them. And what happens? Another classmate – who thinks they’re all that and a bag of chips comes up and says “well I don’t see your name up there, why are you so happy?” REALLY?!!!? REALLLY?!? Can we not be happy for people? Can we not celebrate with them? Do we have to be an a$$hole ALLLLLL THE TIME?!!?

But here’s the kicker – where do they learn that from? How crappy is their life if all they do is put others down? Do they never hear encouraging words? Are they not allowed to make mistakes? If they’re not the best or getting recognition – who cares? And explaining why kids are that way to my son is hard – because it doesn’t make sense to him – because he likes to celebrate his friends accomplishments – whether or not he is a part of that accomplishment.

15-20 years down the road no one will care who won what – but they will remember how you made them feel, and what kind of friend you were. They will remember all the times they were bullied and those who pulled them through and stuck by their side. They will remember the encouraging words from the village of people around them. Thank God we have a village! When parents work together to raise decent human beings and back each other and encourage each others kids – wow  – what a blessing!

All I’m asking – and maybe it’s too much – is that we try our best to not raise jerks. That we make our kids accountable for their actions and words. My kid is no saint and there are times when his sarcasm and wit and temper gets him into trouble- but there are consequences. He was made accountable for his actions. There was no “oh it’s just a boy thing” or “he didn’t really mean it” or “my kid would never do that”. And he’s learned from that. Because that’s what we do as parents – we teach, we mold, we raise, we parent. And when this class has their 10 year high school reunion I want him to come home and see his buddies and I want them to say – “hey thanks for not being a jerk to me and for being my friend”