The Trouble With Travel

The trouble with travel is hockey is trying to maintain healthy eating habits when the majority of your weeknights are spent at the rink and your weekends are spent driving across the state to other rinks.  Hockey season doesn’t have to be a diet killer if you’re well prepared.  Just like you would take the time to prep our meals for the work week, you have to take the time to prep your snacks  and meals for the road.

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After hundreds of miles on the road, the ease and quickness of fast food is alluring.  If, however, you’ve planned ahead and prepped your snacks and meals for the road, it is easy to drive by or skip out on the fast food.  Removing the temptation and not wanting to waste food will go a long way to keeping you on the diet wagon.

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Here are some great ideas for healthy snacks and easy meals for the road.

  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Stringed Cheese
  • Apples or apple slices
  • Peanut butter or almond butter
  • Oranges – clementine’s are perfect for road trips as they are very easy to peel
  • Berries
  • Grapes
  • Popcorn
  • Baby carrots
  • Protein Shakes
  • Protein bars
  • Granola bars
  • Yogurt
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Celery sticks

If you carpool with other families, be sure your snacks align with any food allergies that may be present in your carpool group.

These snacks are easy, convenient, healthy and relatively inexpensive especially when compared to the cost of eating at a restaurant every trip.  For tips on how to indulge in an adult beverage or two without calling your waistline, see my tasty, but light on calories recommendations here.

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It’s Friday – Time to be Amazing

While it is easy to celebrate that the end of our work week in near, bring focus to today’s work and strive to be your best as the weekend draws closer.

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Wheels Up Pt. 3

The hardest of part of travelling out of state for hockey tournaments is trying to fit all of the luggage and all of the players into the trunk.  It’s a bit of a game as you fight with the hockey bags, maneuver the suitcase and ultimately decided you can live with the sticks in the passenger compartment.  Success comes with a true sense of accomplishment once you finally get it all to fit.  Once we got the luggage jigsaw puzzle figured out in the trunk, we headed to my parent’s house in the Northern suburbs.  The ride home was filled with the boys laughter and excited energy.  They were excited to finally make it to our destination, and we were too, but we were exhausted and they were wired.

Once at my mom’s house, Michelle and Andrew got acclimated and felt at home – like most people do at my parents- in short order.  My mom was ready for us with plenty of fresh cookies to go around.  My dad, two weeks post hip surgery, was surprisingly agile and mobile compared to what I had expected.  My parents and my niece and nephew were thrilled to see us and our friends.  Thankfully my parents were able to help us convince the boys they should take a nap before we headed to the Wild game.  They fought taking a nap, but were soon asleep.

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After a nice, lengthy nap we got ready and headed down to St. Paul to see the Minnesota Wild take on the Chicago Blackhawks in game 4 of round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  It was a must win game for the Wild, so the Mayor and I were hoping our squad would show up.  While I’ve been to several Wild games in Minnesota and Michelle had been to several Chicago home games, our boys had only been to Florida Panthers games.  This was going to be a completely different experience for them.

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We got to the game with plenty to spare having hit much less traffic than I had anticipated.  Since we had the kids, we couldn’t really pre-game at McGovern’s or Tom Reid’s so we headed into the Excel Energy Center after buying some nice souvenirs.  The kids were quick to notice that unlike at the Panther’s games, a lot of the crowd starting to file in was already drunk.  Fortunately, neither the Mayor nor Andrew were shy about sharing their observations with others.  They were a magnet for trouble and for the second night in a row, Michelle and I were convinced we were going to get shot or beat up on account of their mouths.

The pre-game started and their mouths were agape.  The game experience in the Excel Energy Center is second to none as is the energy in the crowd.  Having only been to Panthers games previously, the boys’ mouths were agape.  They had never seen a building alive with that much energy.  For them, the experience was incredible and one they still talk about to this day.  As the festivities continued, the fans continued to file in and the boys continued to comment on how they were so drunk they had already spilled beer down the front of their pants.

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Unfortunately for the Wild, the most dynamic part of their game was the pre-game and the introductions.  They were flat the entirety of the game.  The few chances they did have, they did their best to make Crawford look like a god of goal tending.  While the Wild’s play was lackluster, the entertainment from the crowd around us was not.  A couple comprised of a Wild and a Rangers fan, got into a huge fight and at the behest of the surrounding crowd and his other friends, he ditched her.  There was drunk goal to the right of us that managed to fall down two rows barely spilling her beer and not hurting herself.

Perhaps the best moment of the game, was when Andrew started talking smack to the two fans sitting behind him and the Mayor.  They were both drinking and one was spitting some chew.  Andrew felt compelled to tell him that he was going to call his mother and let her know that her son is a drunk that chews.  Thank god they had a sense of humor and  thought that the boys were hilarious.

By the skin of our teeth, Michelle and I survived another adventurous night with our crazy boys.  The Wild lost and the Blackhawks went on to become Stanley Cup champions that year.  Two years later, the Mayor still talks about how incredible it was to be in the Excel Energy Center that night and be a part of the experience.  Making new memories and sharing great experiences with my boys, their friends, and my friends is one of the best parts of having our kids participate in a travel sport.

Part 1 and part 2 of the story can be found below:

Wheels Up

Wheels Up Pt. 2

Wheels Up Pt. 2

For the first time in my travelling life, I would need to use the baggage claim at ATL.  Usually, my trips to Atlanta include hurried runs with the family from terminal to terminal to ensure we don’t miss our connecting flight.  It felt a bit foreign not feeling rushed upon landing in Atlanta.  Fortunately, the rushed feeling was replaced by the mortification and embarrassment of our continued run-ins with the boys’ favorite fellow passenger and her nipples.  Had they not announced it every time they had a visual on her, it probably wouldn’t have been so embarrassing.

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We collected our baggage, as the boys continued to stare at the beautiful women and her see through shirt, and headed out to the shuttles.  It was after midnight and the shuttle lines were crowded.  Storms across the Eastern seaboard left several passengers stranded in Atlanta for the night.  Michelle, the boys and I muscled our way onto a shuttle with three older travelers  after the shuttle driver assured us he could take us to a hotel that would take our vouchers.

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We drove for what had to be 20-30 minutes before pulling into a seedy looking motel with funky colored lighting up the side of the hotel.   We had taken the backseat, so we were the last ones into the hotel lobby.  The shuttle driver followed us in and was given cash by the clerk in the hotel lobby.  The lobby of this Choice Hotel was dingy, dusty and gross.  A breakfast nook off to the side beckoned the boys, who by this time of night had become hungry again.  The heavily tatted hotel clerk was unwilling to let the boys have any of the cereal to eat.

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The Mayor and Andrew in 2015
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The Mayor and Andrew 2032

There was a couch off to the opposite side, so we sat the boys down and waited our turn to check in.  Our fellow travelers had been trying to check in with their vouchers, but the hotel clerk was refusing to take them. He was trying to charge us over $110 for the night in his seedy, roach infested hotel.  As they argued with the clerk, we tried to keep the kids occupied and relatively quiet.

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This became increasing difficult as a few hotel guests started to file in.  These guests, clearly prostitutes with their johns, were dressed in clothes that would make even Tara Reid blush.  Our boys’ eyes were wide with wonder and hysteria at the veritable shit show that had started to walk through the hotel door.  Now Michelle and I were starting to get worried one of their comments might get us shot.  Needless to say, we were not comfortable staying in that hotel.

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Our knight in shining armor, was a fellow traveler, a beautiful woman from Milwaukee that is a merger and acquisition specialist (something tells me that Choice Hotel isn’t her normal hotel of choice.)  She arranged for two ubers to pick us up and booked us each a hotel room in a hotel close to the airport.  She truly saved our bacon.  Finally after the longest night of travel and fearing for our physical safety, we made it up to our hotel room at 2:00 am.

That morning we headed back to the airport bright and early to head to Minneapolis.  The weather was beautiful and sunny as we hopped the shuttle to ATL.  Security was kind to us rushing us to the front since we had the young hockey players and all of their gear.  Finally after an adventurous evening starting at PBI and a circus of a night in Atlanta, we made it to Minny.

To Be Contd.

Wheels up

Two years ago, the Mayor and I headed north with his best friend Andrew and his mom Michelle to a Selects tournament in Minnesota.  We were originally slated to go to tournaments in Minneapolis and Boston, but opted out of the Boston trip when the stars aligned and round two of the Stanley Cup put game four of Minnesota vs. Chicago there during our trip.  It wasn’t a tough choice.

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From the first minute of the trip, I knew it was going to be an epic weekend.  We were flying out of PBI on Zachary’s birthday.  When we got to the airport to check our bags at the Southwest counter, the customer service rep handed us a $200 in vouchers and a hotel voucher for a luxurious stay in Atlanta.  Lucky us!  We headed to security where we met up with our friends.  As we prepared to go through the queue, the boys felt compelled to ask if Doritos were considered a weapon.  Thankfully, TSA had a sense of humor that day.

As we waited to board, we watched in awe as several elderly passengers sat in wheel chairs waiting to get pushed to the baggage area.  The airport was not staffed to handle the volume of wheelchairs and they soon grew impatient.  No more than five minute had passed before they felt compelled to take matters into their own hands.  Soon they all stood and started pushing their chairs.  Only in Florida….

Finally boarding zone B was called and we were free to board the plane.  Our boys, on their way to their way to their first out of state tournament and their first Stanley Cup playoff game, were bouncing off the walls.  At the time, the Mayor had just turned 9 and Andrew was still 8 and only came with one volume level extra loud.  We got them calm enough to stand in line to get on the plane.

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As we walked down the aisle of the plane to find some window seats for the boys and ourselves, people stopped moving as our fellow passengers put their carry-ons on the overhead.  As luck would have it, we were stopped in front of a very attractive, young black woman wearing a white shirt and no bra.  Had this site only elicited giggles, it probably would have been okay, but we were not going to get off that lucky.  Nope the boys had to announce that they could see her nipples.  Oh the shades of red Michelle and I turned as they loudly shared their discovery with us.

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We continued filing to the back of the jet, but the boys could not believe what they just saw.  They were completely transfixed (pretty much like every other guy I know.)  As our flight took off and headed to Atlanta, the boys became distracted by discussions of hockey, jets and life in general.  Lucky for us, we would continue to cross paths with the women in the white shirt everywhere we went in the ATL terminal.

To be continued.

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Go Local

When I go to my favorite restaurant, I am a creature of habit.  I always order the same dish the same way.  I always look at the other menu items, but ultimately I decide to stick with what I know.  My coffee is no different, which is why Selena or Adam always have it ready for me when I walk into Dunkin in the morning.  I wish I could be more adventurous when it comes to dining out, but I hate spending money on food and then being disappointed.

There’s one exception to this rule and that is when I travel.   If I’m travelling abroad, aside from my coffee habit, my creature of habit and safe food choices go out the window.   To truly experience another culture, you have to delve into their cuisine and local dishes even if it is a bit scary.  One rule we have in our house is when travelling abroad, you only get one McDonald’s trip so you can experience the different menus across the globe. All other meals should be eaten in local restaurants.

Most places are known for a specialty dish or two.  In the Brittany region of France, they’re known for the delectable Kouign-amannn cake.  This wonderful pastry is a round, crusty cake that comprises of layers of butter and sugar between layers of pastry. I know – it sounds awful right?  I have craved this dessert since leaving Saint Malo in 2011.

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Saint Malo is an incredible seaside city, where my husband’s grandfather happened to have landed in 1944 as part of the allied forces.  Despite coming into the city under heavy Nazi fire, he was enthralled with its beauty and brought back two paintings of Saint Malo with him to the states when the war had ended.    Saint Malo is also the city that Jacques Cartier departed from when he discovered Quebec.  I never knew how much I would grow to love Jacques Cartier.

In 2016, we had the opportunity to travel to Quebec City for Peewee Quebec, which was one of the most incredible trips I’ve ever taken.  Thank god for Jacques Cartier discovering Canada because les petit pains au chocolats and other pastries in Quebec City tasted like they had been baked in France.  The food in Quebec City. The cuisine of Quebec City is heavily influenced by Breton cuisine and what a tasty treat.

One night two of the moms, a hockey sister and I walked off the beaten path looking for a local bistro.  We found the cutest little place that would seat us at their bar, so we wouldn’t have to wait too long.  My friend Inga and I let the waitress order us her favorite dishes.  I ended up with veal sweet bread dish and Inga ended up with a seafood dish.   The food was incredible, though the sweet bread was a bit rich for my tummy.  Quite frankly if I had known what it was, I probably wouldn’t have ordered it, but then I would have missed out on the experience.

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The most important part of dinner, however, was dessert.  After 5 years of waiting and searching high and low in North America, I found a restaurant that served Kouign-amann.  It was absolutely amazing.  As I ate it, it instantly took me back to Saint Malo and the gite in Normandy.   The taste of the cake, combined with the memories of France and the new memories being created that night in Quebec City made for an incredible culinary experience.  If we hadn’t gone off the beaten path, we would have missed out.

I look forward to exploring Norway and its foods with my boys this summer.  The food, much like the land and the cities we will visit, is a connection to our Norwegian heritage.  While my boys are pretty picky eaters at home, I’m hoping this trip abroad will broaden their taste buds.

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My New Toy

After leaving the nice camera on the shelf for the last year or so I brushed it off, charged its battery and got the lenses ready for graduation.  I bought the T2i for our trip to France back in 2011.   If you’re travelling to Europe or planning any major trip, it is worthwhile to invest in a good camera.    Many museums, cathedrals, castles, palaces and other landmarks prohibit flash photography, so you’ll need a camera that takes good pics in low light.

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Since 2011 my Canon EOS Rebel T2i has served us well, but after 6 years, countless trips to Minnesota, countless hockey tournaments and countless school events culminating with Jake’s graduation it is time to move on.  Truthfully, some of the photos from graduation were a bit cringe worthy.  The T6i comes with an improved lens compared to the T2i.  In addition, the camera is a bit heavy by current standards and lacks the connectivity to smartphones and computers built into the T6i and T7i.

The Canon EOS Rebel T6i can be controlled from my iphone.  No more running and tripping to try and beat the timer when taking a group picture off a tripod.  You can also review and manage images easily on your iphone, which is a huge plus.

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In preparation for my trip overseas, I’ve been playing around with the camera to try and learn the different settings and familiarize myself with it.  Fortunately, my puppies, my guinea pigs  and my kids have been happy to oblige.  My initial review of the Canon Rebel EOS T6i is that it is a huge upgrade compared to the T2i.  It is light, easy to use and easy to navigate the menus.  After my trip I will write a more comprehensive review.   Here are some of the practice pictures.

Keeping Up Appearances

When Snap went public in March, investors had high hopes that they’d see Facebook like returns on their IPO dollars.  That might be a stretch, but the thought was that Snap would be a good addition to a portfolio.  Since the IPO, shares have fallen by 28% due investor concerns surrounding slowing user growth and lack of profitability.  Class actions lawsuits seeking to protect investors have followed.

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In the wake of Uber’s troubles, comparisons between Uber’s former CEO Travis Kalanick and Snap’s CEO Evan Spiegel have been common place.  Now that Snap is a publicly held company, Spiegel is more likely to lose his job as a result of poor user growth and low profitability.  Both are known to be egotistical, brash, and narcissistic and both have gotten in trouble for their comments.

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Monday night Snap threw a party in Cannes at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.  Ironically, there were no cameras allowed in the event and guests were not allowed to take photos.  Additionally, journalists were not allowed into the party either.  Sounds like Snap likes being in the camera business, but doesn’t want the cameras in its business.  Perhaps they are trying to maintain an illusion of austerity in the face of the numerous class action suits or a contrived sense of exclusivity.  Meanwhile stateside, Kalanchick resigned Tuesday as CEO of Uber.

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When it comes to maintaining illusions, it isn’t just powerful CEOs, but regular people via their social media accounts.  Society has created a web of perceived perfection via filters, influencers and viral videos.  The illusion becomes dangerous when people can no longer cope with real life against the juxtaposition of the illusion.  If your kids were to look at your pics, would they see you or would they see a contrived version of you?

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