One Week in Quebec

One week in Quebec for the hubby and Mayor. Meanwhile in Florida, the freezer and an AC unit have gone done. I definitely picked the sort straw in this equation. Truly, I’m just happy it’s Friday. It’s been a long week.

As for my Mayor, he and his team had a scrimmage against the Flyers AAA team. It was a completely one-sided game. Until the coaches decided to do mix the teams and do a split squad game. Honestly, these are some of the best game experiences. It’s super cool to have the opportunity to play with new kids in this environment. Also, instead of a blowout game, you get a more even and entertaining game for everyone involved. The kids loved it!  Plus, my boy got a nice goal.

Between the games and in the small amount of downtime the kids have, they spend it hanging out in the hotel. Apparently, my boy even does wake up calls. You can see how the kids are getting progressively more tired as the week has progressed. They follow a pretty rigorous schedule day in and day out. Needless to say, I think they’re sleeping pretty soundly.

My Mayor was so excited today to try sushi for the first time. Consequently, post game my Hubby took him to pick up sushi to go. He grabbed his sushi and headed to the Patro with the rest of his team for dinner. The Hubby meanwhile went out for Mongolian with some of the dads. We can only hope there was no Canadian Whiskey involved.

Here at the homestead, I attempted to flush the AC line. It didn’t work and I got water everywhere. Clearly, I’ll be waiting for my Hubby to fix it upon his return to Florida. Goalielocks set up Doordash, so we had Sushi Yama delivered. I’m far too tired to cook. This weekend I’ll be doing nothing, but relaxing.

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Cue the Exhaustion

Cue the Exhaustion

Cue the exhaustion folks, it’s Sunday night after a major holiday and hockey tournament.  Undoubtedly, I am exhausted beyond belief along with all of my fellow hockey parents.  I’m positive I’m not the only one regretting not taking tomorrow off to recover.  It’s month end, which means I cannot afford to miss a minute let a lone a day.  So I’ll be back to work tomorrow at 8:00 am with bells on.

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Our Thanksgiving holiday was marvelous.  We had a great Thanksgiving dinner at Jon and Brandi with family and friends that have become family.   After a great dinner, we played some Right Left Center and another game with a box.   Jake had a great night and walked away with some moula after winning two rounds of the game.  After playing games, we watched Star Wars “The Force Awakens.”  I know I’m late to the party here, but I enjoyed the movie.  Although, it is sad to watch knowing we lost Carrie Fisher way too soon.

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I wrote about our early hockey games on the blog earlier and today was no exception.  We were back to the rink by 9:00 am and didn’t leave until after 4:00 pm.  It was a fun weekend at the rink with our hockey family.  These tournaments are exhausting, but are much like a family reunion.   Its a great opportunity to catch up with former teammates, their families and other friends we’ve made throughout the years.

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Yesterdays games were awesome, but I still had quite a few visitors yesterday in the Sin Bin with a lot less (thank goodness) today.   At U-14  body checking is legal and these hits are incredibly loud and percussive.  I’m pretty sure they build the boards to amplify the noise of the hits and increase the hockey moms collective anxiety.

Our boys finally clicked this weekend, after a couple of painful months, which was awesome to see.  These kids have so much potential there aren’t enough superlatives in the English word to adequately describe it.  Nevertheless, I am beyond proud of each of them for their efforts.  As the team went into the championship game, they were definitely the underdog. In the end, we lost a nail biter to a strong Russian team in sudden death OT.

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Of course the bitter reality of leaving the rink at 4:00 pm on a Sunday, is that I still had to grocery shop, finish the laundry and finish all my other errands upon leaving the rink.   I’m pretty sure I heard a collective ugh as us parents left the rink to head home and on to our errands and chores.

Tonight’s song is for my Goalielocks.  Enjoy “May We All” by Florida Georgia Line.

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.

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.