$15 billion

$15 Billion

$15 billion is a heck of a lot of money.  Coincidentally, $15 billion is the size of the youth sports market in  America.  This figure includes league fees, travel costs, apps to manage teams/organizations and live stream games.  Consider that DropBox and AirBnB are both worth only $10 billion, while SpaceEx is worth $12 billion.  That’s a lot of freaking money.

At this point, I feel like our family alone has contributed $1 billion.  With all three kids playing travel hockey, I feel like we’ve been “hockey poor” for most of our adult life.  When I was growing up, our sports followed well defined seasons.  Year round participation in one sport, which drives up costs significantly, simply didn’t exist in our youth.  Now kids are specializing in one sport early often by the time they’ve started middle school.  The problem with specialization in one sport early on is for the increasing incidence of overuse issues and burnout.

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There’s a ton of pressure on kids to make both club and school teams as they pursue college scholarships.  Its a vicious cycle.   As parents we complain about early specialization, but we’re also a big driver in extending the seasons of sports.  I read an interesting article on this topic today in the Star Tribune.  The author wrote how many high school coaches had been pressured into offering off season training for their programs.   This, in my opinion, created a vicious cycle where athletes feel that they have to specialize and work at their craft year round, while coaches feel pressured to coach and offer programs year round.

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How do you solve this problem? I certainly don’t have the answers.  But somewhere in the middle, there’s gotta be a balance.  All I know is that its exhausting and rewarding for everyone involved.

Meanwhile, we had our 5th game of the weekend this morning.  My morning was more than a bit hellacious.   Sadly, my phone wasn’t working correctly and I couldn’t get the rink info off of it.  I sent a text to a group text, but alas we’re all super sarcastic so that didn’t work.  Coincidentally, it didn’t help the lack of mimosa situation either, but I digress. As a consequence, I drove Goalielocks to the wrong rink.  He was livid (to put it mildly.)  Sadly, the game, much like my morning, was a charlie foxtrot.  Nevertheless, I’ve added a 16th bullet to my hockey mom wisdom blog reinforcing the importance of showing up at the right rink.

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The rest of our day, ascended from the ashes from a crazy morning.  Sometimes its all about perspective.  Midway through the first period, one of Goalielocks’ teammates got kicked with a skate leading to a deep laceration on the inside of his ankle.  In the end, medics had to respond to the rink and his teammate ended up in the ER at the local hospital.  Its amazing how insignificant  my untimely rink tour of S. Florida became against the back drop of this serious injury.  It truly is all about perspective and realizing even our worst morning isn’t that bad.

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Super Saturday

Super Saturday

We spent our super Saturday dividing and conquering.  While I traversed the state for hockey with Goalielocks and my two brothers from another mother John and Jon, the hubby stayed in town for the Mayor’s evening games. Since the Mayor was at a friend’s for most of the day, so hubby was able to have a productive day at work.  Meanwhile, we spent 3.5 hours driving from the Palm Beaches to Ellenton on 70, which is largely a two lane road.  We had great company for the drive, althought I’m sure you can imagine how much fun this drive is.

We actually made great time, so we were able to stop and have lunch on the banks of the Manatee River at Woody’s River Roo.  This nice spot is absolute perfection for feeding hockey players, while enjoying a great drink and the beautiful location  Moreover, it’s not fancy, so you don’t have to worry about the kids breaking anything.  As I sat dockside admiring the beautiful view, I succumbed to the temptation and ordered a mimosa.   I had a cup of clam chowder and a salad, while Goalielocks enjoyed the burger.  We finished our lunch and headed to the lunch, which was less than five minutes away.

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Meanwhile back in South Florida, the Mayor was gallivanting about with his boy JM driving the Kaputa and the bulldozer.  As I sat in the sin bin between periods, I caught a video the Mayor had posted on his Instagram that had me in stitches.  It was a video of him driving in slo-mo and then speeding by.  Honestly, it was the funniest thing I saw all day.  When we finally got home after a long day on the road, the Mayor was super excited to tell me about driving both the bulldozer and Kaputa.

Both of the boys’ teams went 1-1 on the day, but both hubby and I were happy with their efforts.  While the day was as long as the drive,  the time spent was well worth the investment.  We only covered a good 380 miles in 7 hours of driving! (Thank you JB for driving our motley crew across the state!)  Our first game in Ellenton certainly didn’t end how we wanted it to, but what I enjoy most of all is spending time with my kids and with our hockey family.   The Mayor and his team did well this evening winning their game 4-1.  My Mayor was stoked that he scored a goal and his usual line mates did equally as well.

The wonderful people that make up our hockey family are incredibly dedicated to their families.  Morevoer, they’re invested in their children and super fun to be around.  When I look at social media influencers on instagram and beyond, I see people who’s only commitment is to themselves.  Whatever commitment they had to their family or their kids is secondary to their own interests.  Its sad really.  In contrast, the hockey parent life calls for a parent that is selfless.  Hockey parents have to be  willing to dedicate of time and resources (aka money) to their children’s athletic pursuits.  I know some day my kids’ hockey careers will come to an end.  At that point, I’ll have time and money to spend on my interests.  Until then, I’m committed to living the hockey mom life.  In fact, I’ll be back at the rink tomorrow morning for Goalielocks’ game.

Champions

Champions!!!

After 10 games in 4 days for two kids, two teams, at two rinks, tonight both Goalielocks’ and the Mayor’s teams are champions!!!!  It was a rough start for both teams.  Goalielocks’ team won Thursday night, but one of our stars was taken down in a nasty hit.  There was some concern that he would miss some games due to a concussion, but fortunately the hit looked far nastier than the outcome suggested.  Thankfully, he was absolutely fine with no headaches or any concussion symptoms post-game.  Hallelujah!  The Mayor’s team got a slow start Friday losing to a team they beat the previous weekend.

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Additionally, what is fun to watch as a hockey parent is when a team starts working together.  The focus shifts from trying to score a goal yourself to trying to setup your teammate.  In the Saturday’s second game, I really noticed this shift in the Mayor’s team.  Here’s hoping it bleeds over in league play next weekend!

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Goalielocks’ team went 5-0 on the weekend and was fairly dominant.  We got into some penalty trouble, which is pretty normal for U14AA.  The talk of the U14AA tournament was crazy megaphone mom, who makes the rest of us hockey moms look sane and normal.  I assure we’re not.   She proudly shared with one of my fellow hockey parents that the megaphone has gotten her kicked out of countless baseball, lacrosse and hockey games.  Consequently, I’m going to go out on a limb here.   I am going to assume she’s either certifiable or she’s a bit slow.  Now she is blonde, so either assumptions is equally plausible.

Undoubtedly, hockey tournaments are exhausting, but exhilarating as well.  For the hockey family, tournaments serve as reunions.  A wonderful opportunity to see all the friends you’ve made throughout the years that are no playing across the state of Florida.   I should clarify that Megaphone Mom is not from Florida.  Even us Florida hockey parents are’t that crazy.   Our level of crazy is purely superficial when compared to the likes of Megaphone Mom.

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The Mayor and hubby have been sleeping for two hours already. Apparently, there 4:45 am wake up call left them exhausted.  As a public service, I skipped the early morning game.  Nobody, and I mean nobody, should have to deal with me on that little sleep. There’s not enough caffeine in the world to make me palatable in that situation.  Moreover  I’ve been rocking a sinus headache since my migraine abated.  Sadly, it feels like a sinus infection is trying to take hold, but I’m not going down without a fight.  Overall, we had a fantastic weekend with our hockey family.   

Struggle Is Real

The Struggle is Real

The struggle is real.  By the time we get to Thursday.  I’m fresh out energy, both mentally and physically.  Life as a hockey parent can be freaking exhausting.  Through the week, we run from the morning drop off at the bus stop, to work (pit stop at Dunkin), get the kids, head to the rink, teach Zumba, conquer homework, try to get in a workout and coerce the kids to shower before bed.  Rinse repeat day in and day out.

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By the time we get to Friday, sleep deprivation is hitting its peak and our energy is hitting its low.  The exhaustion is all encompassing, yet we press on.  We derive our inspiration from our kids, while our energy comes courtesy of perpetual coffee.  We should likely have stock in Dunkin’ and Starbucks.  Any hockey mom that’s been around for more than a season knows exactly where to find her favorite coffee near every rink.

Notice how I say we because I’m fairly certain that I’m not alone in my craziness.  It’s not just me… Seriously….  Ask any hockey mom or day and they’ll tell you. As I left work today, I let out a smile as I realized this weekend’s games were home!  Winner, winner chicken dinner!  The realization that  I don’t have to drive to Tampa this weekend was almost transcendent.  Of course at this time of day on a  Thursday, I’m looking for any win.

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I headed home feeling a bit uneasy about life and my path.  Its easy to feel that way when exhaustion fits in.  Thank god for my beautiful, energetic and incredible Zumba girls.  These ladies rock my world (not that way you pervert) and always bring a smile to my face.  There’s nothing like a great workout to clear your head and remind you how great life truly is.  Thank you endorphins!

 

Closing out my Thursday with a rocking Zumba class is the best way to launch myself into productive and happy Friday.  Not every moment in our life is picture perfect.   Moreover, there will be times in our lives where our progress doesn’t align with where we envisioned ourselves.  That’s okay.  So maybe you’re not where you want to be professionally or personally, who cares.  Ultimately the control over where you land is with you and only you.

Priceless

Priceless

We were playing a team they should have handled with relative ease, but in hockey (as with any other sport) you can’t take your opponent for-granted.

Throughout the entirety of the game, I had quite a bit of company.  It was clear the ref’s were intent on maintaining control of the game.  As a result, both boxes were packed throughout the 2nd with coincidental penalties.   While it jacks up the rhythm of the game, at least it wasn’t one sided officiating.

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We went into the 3rd period and the contest was farther closer than it needed to be.  Consequently, my heart was racing, my stomach was in knots.  My resting heart rate is normally around 68-70.   While Goalielocks is in net, it varies from 90-120 depending on the game situation.  According to my Fitbit, I get at least 2 hours of fat burning out of one of his games without having to lift my finger.  Its great to be a goalie mom, isn’t it?

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My dear friend Sharyn, seeing my angst, was kind enough to get Chris Kunitz to take a picture with me.  At this point, we had 6 minutes left in the 3rd and I was officially dying.  I popped out of the box to pose with the kind and very accommodating Stanley Cup winner, which knocked at least 60 seconds off the clock for me.

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Unfortunately, the boys seemed intent on causing some heart palpitations and I once again had a full box.   This time there was just over two minutes left and there were no coincidentals.  Cheese and rice, it was a long two minutes!  My heart was beating out of my chest as Goalielocks and his boys faced a 6 on 3.  They stood strong.

 

Goalielocks ended up drawing a penalty after his buddy from the Bulldogs took a chop at his arm.  Thankfully, this critical penalty ended the 6 and 4 and they were forced to put their goalie back on the ice.  The squad weathered the storm and soon (although it felt like forever) the final buzzer sounded.  As expected, the boys from both teams scuffled a bit after the buzzer.  Consequently, the refs sent both teams off separately.  Happily, this goalie mom survived and even her picture with an NHL star.

Post game we headed to Twin Peaks, which was clearly a mistake.  Their hiring practices definitely do not emphasize critical thinking, time management or anything other than looks.   While the food is decently price and pretty tasty, no team lunch should ever take 2.5 hours.   Fortunately, our groups of parents is awesome.  After all these years, we continue to enjoy each other’s company.  Nevertheless, it was a bit tough to stomach that serving our group could be that complicated.

 

For many of us, this is our 6th year at this tournament.  I was looking back at pictures from our first trip to this tournament in 2011.  Our boys were so small and so sweet.  Conversely, they’re no so big albeit they’re still mostly sweet.  The relationships my boys and I have formed over the last 6 years of travel hockey have been absolutely priceless.  There is no amount of money you could spend to replace the experience or our hockey family.  In the most critical and difficult times of our lives, they’ve been there for us and we’ve been there for them.  I couldn’t imagine life without our wonderfully crazy, wild and fun hockey family.

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A Wild Saturday Night

Oh it was a wild Saturday night here for our household.  I even got a tattoo before heading to the gastropub Saturday night to watch the Mayweather-McGregor fight.  Okay, never mind that the tattoo is temporary and I got it from an 8 year old.  It’s still pretty awesome.

As we waited for the Kennedy’s sitters to show up, a.k.a. Jake and the Mayor, my BFF gave me a tattoo and tried on my shoes.  My BFF threw on her sisters fashion forward back pack and struck a pose.  She’s cute as a button.  The sitters got there and us amazing adults headed to the pub to watch the fight.

Our reservations said 5:00 pm on Eventbrite, but the fine print said seating could begin at 8:00 pm, but no later than 9:30 pm.  What?  We got there at 8:00 pm obviously not having read the fine print.   Fortunately, not having a table didn’t preclude us from enjoying an adult beverage.  We were not seated until 9:30, but instead of a high top table with no chairs they gave us a nice booth.  #winning

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Batch Gastropub is the latest edition to Delray Marketplace and was having a big bash for the fight. The place was crowded, but as soon as we were seated it didn’t matter.  Our server was amazing.  The food and drinks were on point.  I will never complain when my next round arrives right before I finish my drink.  For dinner, I had a chicken sandwich with Brussels sprouts, while Luke enjoyed the chicken and waffles.  Since I’m keeping my carb intake low and last night’s carbs were reserved for vodka, I opted for Brussels sprouts instead of fries.   In addition, I ate the sandwich off of the bread, but ate no bread.  Its all about priorities and last night Tito’s beat out the bread.

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As for the fight, I was impressed with McGregor.  I don’t know much about boxing or fighting only that it is one of the toughest sports in the world.  While I’m not a Mayweather fan, I also acknowledge he’s the best boxer in the world.   McGregor lasting ten rounds around the world’s best having never been in the ring before?  It was pretty damn impressive.  Both Mayweather and McGregor are amazing athletes and it showed last night.  I’d be curious to see what would happen if it were the MMA ring and not the boxing ring, but I doubt that will happen.

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I was glad that neither fighter felt compelled to pay homage to Tyson by biting someone’s ear off.  The Holyfield-Tyson fight is the last boxing match I had watched until last night.  At the end of the night, our group of friends had a great time enjoying each other’s company and the fight.  Lastly, the best part of the fight?  Unequivocally, the memes leading up to and following the fight.  I leave with you with a few of my favorites.

My Running Partners

When I started running over two years ago, I didn’t know that I would love it so much.  Nor did I know that my running partners would be so important in maintaining my training or that they’d bring me so much happiness.

Most days my running partners are Jake and our dogs Maya and Athena.  The beautiful thing about running with these three is they keep a brisk pace.  Jake is particularly fast ,so running with him means I have to push myself.  The puppies like to be first, so which ever dog is in back is racing to catch up to their sister.

This can be a bit problematic when Jake and his puppy pull away from us.  Usually it’s Maya and I holding up the rear.  Jake’s got his mile below 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, I almost threw myself a party for breaking the 8 minute mile barrier.

Maya trying to keep pace with Jake means we’re pushing race pace almost every run.  Since Jake is so fast, Athena is usually super tired after two miles.  We’ll switch the puppies and walk them for awhile, so they can catch their breath and cool down a  little bit.

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By the time we start running again, the puppies’ energy is back and they’re ready to roll.  Some runs, Goalielocks or the Mayor will come with us.  For those runs, we usually cap our distance at three miles.  The best part of running with the puppies is how happy they are when we run.

While in Norway, Jake and I mixed it up a bit by hiking on the mountain trails.  It wasn’t a rigorous as our runs, but some parts of the trail were quite steep and took a lot of concentration to master.  The views were incredible and so was the weather.  No horrible heat indexes to contend with.

The unfortunate part of summer in Florida, is heat indexes in the triple digits.  As much as I love to run with my kids and my dogs, the summer heat makes it dangerous for the dogs.  Until the heat abates, I’ll be hitting the treadmill and missing my running partners.  When I run on the treadmill, there’s no sweet puppy looking back at me smiling as she enjoy the run.  Nor is there Jake, who motivates me to run faster and further every time we run.

Adventure on the Fjord

.My brother’s cabin in Flam came with its own boat and a prime location on the fjord.  It truly doesn’t get much better than the view from their living room or kitchen table of their cabin.  Our boys and their cousins love life on the water, so they were intent on the dads taking them out on the boat.  We were ready for our adventure on the fjord.

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The first journey on the boat, my entire family and my brother’s family hopped in eager for our adventure on the Fjord.  It had been raining that day, but the rain had abated as we boarded the boat.   No sooner had we pushed out to sea, when the winds began whipping and the rain restarted.

Unfortunately, it was clear the boat’s engine hadn’t been used in sometime.  As my brother struggled to get the engine started, hubby rowed us back towards the cabin.  The wind whips down the mountains into the valley on to the fjord with a lot of velocity, so we were quickly moving towards the very large cruise ship Costa Magica.  Luke was rowing as hard as he could, but the wind was that fierce.

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The engine did not want to start, so we were getting worried.  If we didn’t get the engine started quickly, we would hit the Costa Magica or end up in the cold waters of the Aurlandsfjord.  The very idea of going into the not so shallow (the fjord is 3,900 ft deep)  and very cold waters of the fjord made it a little nerve wracking.  As we worried,  waited and hopped for the engine to start, the engine finally started.

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My brother and hubby switched places.  After several more tense minutes, the engine finally started.  We headed safely away from the Costa Magica and out on the Fjord.  The rain and wind abated as the engine finally started.  The irony was not lost on the two men that had been rowing through the wind.

Hubby drove us out towards Aurland, but not too far from shore.   We were able to see the goats and the Viking burial grounds.  We got a close of up of a beautiful waterfall that falls several thousand feet,  goes under E16 and into the Fjord.   Despite the hairy start to our trip, our evening on the boat in  Flam turned out magical and memory filled. Undoubtedly, I was quite relieved when we were back on solid ground.

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9,000 steps before noon

We started our morning of 9,000 steps with a ride up to Mt. Floyen on the funicular.  Once up the mountain, we hiked around the lake and through the forest. The views of the city, nearby islands and the North Sea were incredible. Thankfully, they had some coffee and cold water in the gift shop for a post hike refreshment.

Post Mt. Floyen, we got on a bus and headed to Mt. Ulricken. We headed up the gondola to see Bergen from the city’s highest peak. Once at the top, we hiked up to the mountain’s peak. The mountain top was home to a farm and several small lakes. The hike was exhausting, but well worth the hard work.

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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