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!

Road Trip

This past weekend my husband and I went on a road trip. I haven’t been able to convince him to go on a warm vacation but I did convince him to go south….. to……. Minneapolis!!

I know what you’re thinking – “wow, Minneapolis, woo hoo, totally on my top ten places to go on a winter vay-cay 🙄”

But it was great! And here’s why.

1) there’s a lot of things happening and going on in Minneapolis. We took in a concert (Demi Lovato) and an NBA game (Timberwolves vs. Golden State Warriors). And the evening we arrived we found out that we also could’ve taken in WrestleMania – we chose to go to an Irish Pub with live music instead (#goodlifechoices)

 

“Don’t let the Bastards Grind you Down”

 

 

Demi – slaying on stage

 

 

Cover Band who opened with AC/DC TNT #legends

 

2) The Food. We didn’t have one bad meal. The food was a amazing. From the greasy pizza joint, to the fancy schmancy hotel restaurant and everything in between – we ate well.

 

Pizza La Vista 

 

3) Location, location, location. We stayed at a hotel  (The Loews) that was right across from the venue we were going to be attending. Literally a 30 second walk from the hotel to the venue. Did we pay a lot to stay there – YES. Did the visiting Golden State Warriors stay at the same hotel – YES Was my husband scared to drive/park downtown so we picked a hotel with valet parking- also YES. We were two blocks from the metro station – so we could catch the metro to anywhere in the city. We opted for the hotel driving service due to me wanting to shop at Mall of America 😁 it was a 15 minute drive and our driver was great and knowledgeable. And there was a lot going on around us that we could walk to. Restaurants, Pubs, clubs, shopping, theatres, etc.

 

Watching GSW leave the hotel 

Draymond Green – opted to walk across the street instead of taking the 30 second bus ride. 

 

We would totally go back to Minneapolis!

BUT the best thing was it was the first time in 11 years that my husband and I got to go away somewhere – just the two of us – for more than one night. Don’t get me wrong – love my kids – but it is nice to have some time with your spouse. Now you might be thinking – “what? 11 years? Seriously?” Yup – no joke. Our farming lifestyle (up until this past year) consisted of a cow/calf operation in which my husband would be feeding cows daily and during calving season was basically a walking zombie who lives off of coffee and minimal sleep. We’ve switched our operation slightly and now we don’t have the cow/calf side of the farm anymore. And this means a quieter winter – farm wise. The kids,on the other hand, had us on the go 99% of the time with hockey and karate. But there it was ONE WEEKEND, no kids, no cows – and the GSWarriors were in Minneapolis. Nothing was going to stop us!

Mall of America #restingbuckface

Ready for Demi!!

Room with a View #theloewshotel

Finally a smile! 

 

I highly recommend planning a trip, or if that’s not an option a date night, with just you and your significant other. It was great to just talk, or be silent, singing to the radio, argue about directions or whatever. We were just us. We were able to talk and communicate without the interruption of our children or our every day responsibilities. It is so important to carve out time to work on your relationship with your spouse, because marriage is a work in progress. Is it always easy – no. Does it take work – yes. Does it take respect – yes. Does it take forgiveness and mercy – absolutely. Nobody is perfect and no marriage/relationship is perfect – BUT if you work at it and put time into it – it does get easier.

Did our kids Snapchat us? Yes. Did we miss them? I guess so….. I mean yes. But, you know what – it’s ok to miss your kids. It’s ok to spend some time away from them. I appreciated them much more after being away for even a few days. And I appreciate the guy I chose to spend the rest of my life with even more as well. Even if he doesn’t smile for selfies 🙄#restingbuckface

 

Classic – #restingbuckface

 

The Knockouts 

Monday evenings in the summer are spent at the ball diamond – and these Monday nights are for the ladies. That’s right – ladies beer ball league invades town  – and it is on this day of the week where you get to witness The Misfits, Dream Team, Lady Lightning, but most importantly The Knockouts play some stellar slow-pitch (We also have two teams from neighbouring towns – but we just call them the town names – sorry Deloraine and Killarney).

Mondays are for the girls #knockoutcentral

I’ve been playing for a few years now (5 I think) and I must say that it is definitely a highlight of my week! We might not be the best team out there – but we have a ton of fun and laugh a lot! We are quite the eclectic group – we come from all walks of life and a myriad of professions (just to highlight – we have a lawyer on our team FYI, a hair stylist, and a couple of teachers just to name a few).  I believe we have the largest age range – from young-ish to “old” (but let’s be honest age is just a number – and our hair stylist makes sure we don’t look too old) We have those who show up in full gear and cleats and those who still kick at the ball (we’re converting a soccer player), or jump out of the way of the ball (#notnamingnames #youknowwhoyouare 😂), some have played competitively in their glory days and some are learning and playing the game for the first time ever!

We have our fair share of pirouettes, pretzels, and nose dives BUT we do have one player (yes just one) who will voluntarily slide into bases!  The rest of us fall and trip over the base and call it a slide. We groan and complain that we are all getting old and chances are we have all pulled at least one (if not multiple) muscles throughout the season – and if you are lucky enough to make it through the season without injury – you will (I promise) be injured in some capacity during The Tournament.

But you know what – once we step on that field – or up to the plate – something magical  (or miraculous – depends who you ask) takes place. We are called the Knockouts for a reason – and it’s not just because of our natural good looks #soblessed – but our team can hit! This season we were channeling our inner Big Papi’s, Joey Bats, Aaron Judge’s and Steve Pearce’s (#grandslamsonly). But you have to be patient – since we are “older-ish” it takes us a couple of innings to warm up – so we only start hitting consistently in the 4th inning. Chances are we are down by a couple or 5 runs and we like to rally in the open inning.  We have a flair for the dramatic. #itsateamthing

We are mostly an offensive team BUT our defence kicked it up a notch this year – we had a lot of double plays and almost – ALMOST A TRIPLE PLAY. #socloseithurttowatch

But seriously – I love this team. I love its inclusivity. I love the laughs. I love the work ethic. I love the teamwork. I love the competitive spirit. But most importantly I love that every year in June we come back and it’s like nothing has changed. We finish the games and win or lose we head over to the lounge – have a drink and laugh some more. So cheers to you fellow Knockouts – and kudos on a great season! #cantwaittillthewindup #alsotimetogetsomenewjerseys

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”

Running

So I’m a part of a Facebook group/online community called Healthy Habits Happy Moms (aka HHHM for short), and right now they are promoting a #walkthisway challenge.  It’s a month long challenge that encourages you to walk/run for 30 minutes a day.  So I thought – ” Hey! I can do that!” And so started my adventure…..


A little bit of back story is necessary …. I hate loathe long-ish distant running.  Long being defined as farther than 100 meters.  Unless I am playing a sport that involves running (soccer, basketball, softball) or see a spider 🕷 –  I feel that running is totally useless and unnecessary. I totally understand, from a health perspective,  why people run long distances – I don’t understand why they WANT to run long distances.  This is something that I’ve never enjoyed doing – ever! Even in elementary school – in Grades 5 and 6 – we would run around the block to get ready for the Arden cross-country run, you could do a 2 kilometer or a 5 kilometer run (I think – I’ve tried to block it from my memory). I was an athletic kid and all I could do was 2 laps around the block.  Long distance just was not my thing! Give me a baton and three other girls to run with and I could give you 110% for 100 meters in a relay race – but 2 kilometers – ya not happening.

So today I’m out for my walk – and I’ve been walking around a section of land – roughly 4 miles or 7 kilometers.  I have my hand picked playlist of upbeat and/or motivational songs (Running/walking/dancing playlist on Spotify ) – I also might break out into dance mode on my walk – so I can keep a decent pace.  GDFR by Flo Rida came on and I just couldn’t walk – I had to *gasp* run.  I ran while the entire song was playing – this was GOING DOWN FOR REAL.  But maybe that is what was missing in my youth – a hand picked playlist. Sure I had a Walkman and even a Disc-man but there is something about the music not skipping when you take a step.  And Beyonce – she was missing too – you know her forceful vocals that sound borderline angry and you shouldn’t mess with her unless you want to get messed up. #queenbey #lemonade #freedom

So there I was channelling my inner Rocky Balboa , while Eye of the Tiger was playing and running. It was weird and yet very satisfying at the same time. Dare I say – I was enjoying running? Now don’t get me wrong – it’s not like I ran the entire 7 km – 🤣 #nothappening – but I did challenge myself to run the distance between hydro poles or for an entire inspirational song. Baby steps people – baby steps. Kudos to those who “do running” you are crazy but intriguing and I admire you. Who knows this whole running thing might grow on me and one day I could be running the entire 7km. #onlytimewilltell