The worst week of the year….

Cue the Pepto, Tums, Maalox, Cîroc and Xanax as tryout season is here.  Arguably the worst 2-3 week period of the year for any travel hockey parent (or any sports parent for that matter.) Starting tomorrow, the tryouts will go 5 days straight across the three major programs in Broward and Palm Beach County.   In the end, I’m sure it will work out okay, but the period of weeks and weeks of not knowing can be excruciating.  Truly even if it is over in hours or days, those hours and days are eternal as is the accompanying heartburn.

So here are my tips for surviving tryout season after 6 plus years of living it:

  • Have a plan: where will you tryout and why?
  • What’s the most important factor in choosing a team or organization to you as a parent?
  • What’s the most important factor in choosing a team or organization for your player?
  • If you have multiple kids in multiple age groups, figure out the car pool situation.
  • Manage your own expectations (work in progress over here.)
  • Manage your kid’s expectations
  • Pre-load your medicine cabinet with a nice accouterments of antacids and acid reducers
  • Breakout the yoga music and Enya music to get your Namaste on. It will help, I swear….
  • Brownies, chocolate chip cookies and Neuhaus truffles are the perfect treats to help deal with the anxious moments
  • If room temp or fresh out of the oven isn’t your style, then Ben and Jerry’s is a solid alternative to the items listed in the bullet above.
  • Blare Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing and sing at the top of your lungs while on the 95 or  the Turnpike.

At the end of the day, tryouts will always remain a grueling marathon for the players, families and most assuredly the coaches.

Hard work on and off the ice leading up to tryouts is the best way to setup our players for tryout success.    Herb Brooks said it best “Success is won by those who believe in winning and prepare for that moment.”  The stakes for all of us are a bit lower than they were for the legendary coach, but I’d be lying if I said it tryout season, even with proper preparation, wasn’t tough.  The worst possible outcome for our kids is that they will not make the team of their dreams, but this too presents an opportunity for the player.

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Our oldest did not make the travel team, the first three years he tried out.  We never ran interference to get him on a team.  Instead we told him that if playing travel hockey was his goal, he would need to work.   And work he did.  He worked incredibly hard and made the travel team as first year U-16A player.   His team that year wasn’t strong, but he didn’t care.  He was thrilled with the opportunity to play and continued working to get better.  His second season in U-16A was one of the most incredible seasons of travel hockey we have ever played (between the 3 kids we’ve logged 13 seasons.)  His coaches (Coach Frenchy, Coach Dan and Coach Mike), his team, and his  teammates were outstanding!

His last season of youth hockey, he worked his tail off for his team, his coaches and himself.  That Hawks team had the most incredible synergy that I have ever seen in youth hockey.  They played for each other, not for themselves.  The result?  An undefeated season in league play and a state championship banner.  While it may have taken him longer to get into the travel hockey than he wanted, but his achievements were completely his own.  He got their because of his hard work.   This spring he will graduate high school and then off to college.  His experience in hockey is one that he will always draw on because it is an example of where his hard work and dedication help him achieve his goal.

There is nothing wrong with learning resilience and persistence in youth sports except for when it’s your child…  I couldn’t be prouder of Jacob, but each spring he didn’t make a team got tougher.   As hard as it was to watch, it was the kind of experience that builds character and life skills way beyond the hockey rink.   So if you see me or any other S. Florida hockey parent double fisting coffee and Pepto this week don’t worry, we’ll be okay once tryout season is over.

Best of luck to all the players, coaches and families this week!

P.S.  Notice I said okay, not normal.  We’ll never be normal…..

P.S.S.  Hockey families – do you have any tryout rituals or superstitions in your family?  If so, share in the comments.

 

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One Month

One month ago, a moment we hoped would never come came and took our breath away.

One month ago, the immensity of the moment made time standstill.

One month ago, our world stopped spinning and the pain was overwhelming, but your pain was no more.

One month ago, we were reeling in loss, while the world kept spinning and life went on.

To my dearest friend and hockey mom,

It has been one month since you left us, but it feels like it was both yesterday and an eternity ago.  That night replays in my mind daily and not a day goes by that I don’t think of you.  Our world stopped, but life around us continued. To this day, it seems cruel that life continues on despite our enormous loss.

As I left to the coffee the next morning, a cardinal was in my front tree and flew by my car. Driving that morning, I was struck by the notion that nothing and everything had changed all at once.  The cardinal was a gift, undoubtedly from you to let us know you were okay.   You’ve left a mark forever on my soul and the souls of those that knew you.  Your strength, your tenacity, your spirit, your beauty, and your joie de vivre continue to inspire me on the daily.  You will forever be a seminal person in my life responsible for teaching me more about myself and about life through your example than you could ever possibly imagine.

I am resolute in the promises I made you that day.  Luke and I will always watch over your family and I will never give up the fight to find a cure.   United by hockey and love of our kids, I’m blessed to have called you my friend and my family.  I can never thank you enough for all you did for us.  Love you to the moon and back.

Love,

A broken hearted hockey mom.

 

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I won the weekend!

I don’t mean to brag, but I totally won the weekend.    Truly, I freaking killed the weekend.  What does winning the weekend even mean?  Let me explain….  At work we talk a lot about what winning looks like.  In order to win, we need to hit certain metrics or certain objectives.  For me to win the weekend, as a hockey mom, it is not dissimilar.  I need to hit certain objectives.   These objectives include incredibly sexy tasks like laundry, cooking meals, vacuuming, grocery shopping, cleaning the house (still in a post hockey season disarray) and logging my miles.  I can count the number of times I have hit all of these objectives on a weekend during hockey season on one hand.   To be fair, it probably happened just once before.  My fellow hockey moms and dads, I know you feel my pain and can appreciate how amazing it is that I could win my weekend during the spring hockey season.

 

Again, this post isn’t about bragging, but relishing in the small joyous victories life sometimes brings.  Friday night was a complete miracle.  I came home to a deceased hamster.  Chuka, Zach’s (aka the Mayor) newly acquired hamster went to the great beyond after a mere 5 days at the homestead.  He was devastated at the loss, so naturally we put the dead hamster in a bag and took it back to Pet Smart for an exchange.  While the Mayor and dad exchanged the hamster, I ran my four miles and it was awful, but I did it.  Before we took the boys to hockey, the Mayor’s new hamster (Oompah Lupa) was in its cage and playing about.   Both boys made it to their hockey practice without being a minute late.  Victory!  By the time the Mayor and dad got home from peewee practice, I had already grilled the chicken (without blowing up the grill), cooked the pasta and made a Caesar salad.  Remarkably, the chicken did not taste like lighter fluid and there were no fires.  Dinner and the Mayor’s sleepover were a complete success.

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Saturday could have been better had my Wild beaten St. Louis, but they choked and broke my family’s collective heart by being eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  To be fair, the officiating didn’t help their cause at all.  Nonetheless, I was extremely productive completing the grocery shopping, vacuuming the floor, and completing almost all of the laundry! I even logged my four miles with my Athena.  Best of all, the Mayor’s team won both of their peewee spring games.  Post run as a consequence of some foot pain, we headed to Dick’s Sporting Goods so I could replace my worn sneakers.   New sneakers and a couple workout tanks I didn’t need later, we headed over to PetSmart to buy Goalielocks some new fish.  If he has his druthers, he’ll have a fish breeding facility in his room in no time.

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Sunday was the perfect day to stay home and do nothing as it rained almost all day.  These days rarely happen in South Florida and I took full advantage to finish the laundry and get most of the house organized.   Even had the opportunity to take the boys to Petco to get our saltwater aquarium water’s tested.   Fortunately for my wallet the tank isn’t done cycling.   For now our tank, will keep cycling with the hermit crabs and Bubbles the conch.  Post Petco the sun finally came out, so Jake and I went for a quick 3.5 mile run.  The run was miserable as the pre-run diet of brownies and coffee was less than optimal, but we did it.  We stuck to our goal and made it happen.   Note to self (and cautionary tale to the audience) stop eating brownies and going for a run immediately thereafter.  It makes you want to vomit and slows you down.  Sometimes it all about life’s lessons and small victories.

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To be perfectly honest, I finished all the loads of laundry and maybe by this Friday we’ll get all of the clothes put away.  Small victories will turn into big victories that’s what I keep telling myself.   Either that or we’ll hire a housekeeper during hockey season.   In the meantime, I’ll relish small victories and winning my weekend.

An Introduction

It may seem strange to many that I’m a hockey mom living in sunny S. Florida, but life has a way of throwing curve balls our way.   In 2005, we headed south from Minnesota to explore what South Florida had to offer.  Our kids were still quite young at the time, Jacob was going into first grade and Colin was only 18 months.  It was truly the perfect time for us to relocate without much interruption to their lives.   While Jacob had played hockey at the Super Rink in Blaine the winter before we headed south, he decided not to continue playing in Florida.

Several years and a Zachary later,  you can imagine our surprise that despite living in Florida for five years (and Zachary being born in Florida), our boys (especially Colin and Zachary) were still drawn to hockey.  We tried numerous other sports (karate, soccer, etc.) to no avail.  I guess you can take the boys out of Minnesota, but you can’t take the Minnesota out of the boys. Consequently,  since 2010 we’ve been living the hockey lifestyle in sunny South Florida.  With three boys playing at three different age levels on three different travel teams, our life has been busy.  I would be lying if I told you that laundry, non-hockey friendships and household chores don’t fall by the wayside during hockey season.

This blog is about my attempt (any my family’s) to find balance between motherhood, hockey, fitness, survival and career.   In writing this, I hope to both amuse and perhaps help others striving to find this balance.  For others it may confirm what they already knew; hockey moms are crazy.

This blog is also about saving money!  Managing a household with three hockey players, two of which are now teenagers, encompasses a lot of food and a lot of expenses.  I’ll  be sharing deals, flash sales and my best finds.    You can also expect reviews of our favorite products and new products we’re trying.

I hope you enjoy reading the blog and that the window into our crazy world provides you with both entertainment and good information.