Family Life

It’s that time of year again. Everyone is making New Year’s Resolutions. I see it all over social and print media. Not me. I fight the urge to create any lists. I no longer make New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve disappointed myself (and probably those around me!) far too often. If nothing else, I should resolve to not promise anything to anyone, including myself!

However, despite my abhorrence to New Year’s Resolutions, the same does not hold true for my friends making New Year’s resolutions. They seem to make New Year’s resolutions and think nothing of including me in their plans.

See, I invited a few friends and their spouses over for a causal and friendly New Year’s Eve celebration. As it happens when six women gather around a kitchen table (because that’s where our New Year’s Eve took place!), we drank some wine and had some laughs.  And apparently, we started making some plans.

In fact, now that I think about it, I had a very productive New Year’s Eve. I’m not sure how this happened, but in the course of a few hours I may have made some agreements (resolutions?) around the following:

  • Visiting Singapore, Bangkok and Phuket (so far so good);
  • Paying a visit to a naturopathic allergist;
  • Retiring to Arizona (with all my friends of course);
  • Something about curling lessons (apparently this is fun?!);
  • Getting entirely caught up on all episodes of Orange is the New Black, The House of Cards, 24, The Good Wife, and Downton Abbey. This is a lot of couch time for someone who doesn’t watch much TV;
  • And best of all: initiating, participating and concluding (yes, in one evening) a highly scientific research study on the merits of Goldschlager schnapps versus Fireball whiskey (the conclusion being that Fireball wins hands (or shot glass) down, though my research methods may have been somewhat flawed so I encourage you to undertake your own research in 2015 … invite me of course).

It remains to be seen whether any of these resolutions will hold for 2015, but one this is for sure: Forget Red Bull – champagne gives you wings!

Happy New Year!

Two guys run into each other in the doorway of a Tim Horton’s coffee shop; one leaving and one arriving. One guy says, “After you…” to which the first responds, “No, after you …”

And there ensues The Great Canadian Stand-Off where our national proclivity to politeness and addiction to Tim Horton’s coffee, collide.  You know this could go on long enough that the required twenty minutes sitting time of Timmies coffee would expire and I would have to wait for a fresh pot to brew. Someone would have to break the stalemate.

Might as well be me.

Between my thirst for a Double-Double Dark (not to mention my need to go pee after my last Double-Double Dark) and my son’s yearning for a maple dip (do you need Eh dictionary yet?), we were not above trampling Canadian ideals and pitching forth through these blocked doors.

We waited a respectable thirty seconds and one more round of “No, I insist …” and “No, really … you go first” before I barged in between them and scurried to the ladies room.

But not without voicing a quick, “’Scuse me! Sorry!” over my shoulder, of course!

Canadians.

What can you do, eh?

I just want you to know I’m not one of those hockey moms

But sometimes I wish I was.

My daughter’s team was in a hockey tournament recently in Cornwall and alongside the usual pre-game superstitions (mostly her), chips and wine in bed (mostly me) and juicing up the Jambox (both of us), her team made it to the semi-finals of the tournament – a game that they , the Hungry Hippos,  sadly lost to hometown rivals, The Ugly Pucklings (the nicknames girls’ hockey teams give themselves is an entirely different blog post).

One of her round robin games saw them play a team from the Outaouais region just across Quebec border from Ottawa. It was not a pretty game. We tied 1-1 but not before our trainer had to tend to two Hippos who’d been checked by girls on this team (girls hockey is non-contact by rule but not always in practice), and saw the opposing team accumulate 8 minor penalties in one game. I’m don’t think my daughter’s  team accumulated 8 minor penalties in the entire season last year. To make matters worse, one of their team members accumulated 5 of those penalties, and the coach then saw it fit to nominate her for player of the game. Not only is that bad coaching and parenting, but let’s agree that that is bad everything.

It was one of those games that gives hockey a bad reputation. Thankfully, the game finished with no real havoc and no serious injury.

The havoc started when we got home from the weekend – when I get to talk about my stellar parenting.

I should have just let it go, but I was irked, and the game became the subject of our family dinner conversation on Monday evening.

“You would not  believe this team,” I shared with the boys. “Eight penalties in one game! Five to one player! And the coach gives her Player of the Game. Can you believe it?”

My son asked, “ Did you yell at the ref? Did you and another hockey mom go at it?”

That’s when it happened. I faked it. I faked the bad ass hockey mom.

“You bet I did! The refs were totally useless! And then you know what else I did? I stood up and yelled at the other parents. Oh yeah. I gave them a piece of my mind – and a piece of my hot dog. That’s when it really got going. I stood up and screamed “what kind of a goon show is this?” and one of the other hockey moms told me to shut up and then the coach of their team told me to shut up. Then, this other hockey mom and I got into it in the stands. Then you know what I did? I spit on her. Oh yeah. I spit on her. That b!tch was asking for it, you know it!”

They stared at me.

They know I did nothing like that at all. *Sigh*

“Well … well,” I stammered, “I wanted to do!” I said. “I’m totally going to do it next time.”

I’m such a rebel … in my dreams ….

“Ice cream, anyone?”
 

777I was tagged by Lesley Donaldson in the 7-7-7 Challenge in which writers are invited to share seven lines from the seventh page of their work in progress, starting from the seventh line. Lesley’s urban fiction book “The Queen’s Viper” is due out in the spring of 2015 and her non-fiction book, “Growing A Rainbow: The Premature Journey of a Two Pound Hero” will be on sale imminently.

The seventh page of my manuscript happens to be a blank page (chapter separator) so already this challenge did not bode well for my marketing.  So I cheated a little. The number “7” is a lucky number, after all, right? Well, not for me as this story unfolds …

Below are seven lines from the eighth page of my manuscript “Offside by a Mile – Confessions of a Hockey Mom”.

My husband, Peter, turned from packing balaclavas, thermo ski mitts, and HotShots hand warmers into the ski bag and said, “He’s going to find out, you know.”

“Find out what?” I asked innocently, though I knew only too well what he was referring to.

“Right . . . ,” he answered, rolling his eyes heavenward.

“Well, I’m not taking full blame for this one, buddy!” I snapped back as he continued shoving ski helmets into the bag. “I learned to ski for you! Our kids learned to ski for us! We’re a skiing family, and that’s final!” I bellowed, and hammered my fist onto the kitchen counter.

I knew he was right, though. Connor was going to find out sooner or later that we’d lied, that first-year hockey starts at age four, and that even though this had been a mutual decision between my husband and me, odds were good Connor was going to blame me. That’s motherhood for you.

These lines set the stage for a fourteen-year odyssey which continues to this day: my après-ski life as a hockey mom. I am hopeful that my book, Offside by a Mile – Confessions of a Hockey Mom” will soon be published. Stay tuned!

I am supposed to now play  this forward to a few authors that I know. These incredibly talented women are very busy, so I am putting NO pressure on them to participate but I know they have a few great projects in their quills and inkwells!

Amy Sherman, Barbara Cooley, Sharon Enck,Brenda MoguezBonnie Jean Feldkamp and Kimberly Dalferes? Whatcha workin’ on?

Kids today are so lucky.  They have fewer chores (because they’re so busy) and they get to go everywhere (because they’re parents feel guilty leaving them at home). Parents today are much more adventurous in travelling with their children. I realize I’m part of this culture, indulging my children in all sorts of travel adventures. In return, I hope my kids will look back upon our family travels and continue to be inspired by the world and long to see more of it … preferably on their own … soon.

So my daughter recently experienced the pinnacle of childhood adventures:  the solo voyage. As in sans parents. When family and summer scheduling conflicts prevented us from attending a much loved beach week on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, my daughter somehow managed to finagle an invite from her uncle to go to the beach with his family – complete with puppy dog eyes, curled lip and promises of ‘I won’t be any trouble at all …’, I have no doubt . Naturally he, being entirely defenceless to the puppy dog eyes and curled lip look, agreed.

us customsThe first significant hitch she encountered was US Customs.  I guess runaways are extremely clever these days, including those with an official consent to travel form notarized by a lawyer, signed by both parents AND carrying a return airline ticket. Evidently US customs officials are impervious to the puppy dog look and curled lip routine but good on her for trying. She fared much better with Canadian Border Services upon her return and the usual, “Are you bringing back any weapons, alcohol or tobacco?’ was replaced with “I bet you had a lot of fun! Welcome back.”

This solo adventure of hers took another unfortunate turn when Hurricane Arthur decided to take its own unfortunate turn towards the Outer Banks of North Carolina where she was staying with my brother. If anyone could turn a hurricane on its heels it would be my daughter, but alas, the Governor did not think know of her powers (primarily reserved for use at our family dinner table), and Dare County issued an evacuation order for Hatteras Island. While I am certain she had visions of a SWAT team lowering their ladders from helicopters evacuating stranded tourists such as herself, she soon found out what it really entailed: a day’s driving stuck in the worst traffic jam imaginable.

And now she is off to sleep over camp for two weeks (something she has done now for seven summers).  While there will certainly be someone there to feed her and do her laundry, I know she will return from camp grateful for a flushing toilet.

bluesfestMy sons are also on their own solo adventures this week. My 18-year old is at the national Canadian Big League Championships in Thunder Bay, Ontario (ten days of residence living at Lakehead University will be good training for his body to get used to dorm beds) and my 16-year old is experiencing Ottawa’s largest outdoor musical festival, Bluesfest 2014 (requiring him to master one of the biggest travel obstacles for today’s youth:  public transportation). Their adventures, however, will probably not be titled Adventures in Solo Travel but rather Travel in with Solo-Cup Adventures. Sigh.

So this house is just a little too quiet for me right now and I think it’s time to embark on some solo (or solo cup) travel adventures on my own. But I am a seasoned traveller, right? None of this Customs nonsense, lousy beds, public transportation woes or guilt can get in my way, right?

Stay tuned!

airplane

 

It’s sad really. I was the apple of my kids’ eyes for what seemed like only a nanosecond. I have three kids and I was their go-to friend from birth until – well – about that time around Grade 8 where they each dropped me like a hot potato.  I suppose that’s about when independent social lives start to bloom and a mother’s presence not only is no longer necessary, it is a downright intrusion of the You Suck variety.

I frequently chaperoned field trips until returning to work outside the home and even then offered one field trip per child per school year which was happily approved and anticipated by each of my kids.  Until Grade 8. Then I sucked.

I happily hosted non-birthday parties around Christmas and Halloween for all our kids and their friends. Until Grade 8. Then I sucked.

We all posed for family photos at various events and important tourist shrines. Until Grade 8. Then I sucked.

The eagerness to have “Mom” participate in any aspect of their lives other than stocking the frig and doing the laundry, waned considerably around Grade 8.

Initially my boys still permitted my attendance on the field trips, but disappeared with their friends upon arrival, leaving me to chaperone the girls or whichever group was last assigned to a parent. Soon thereafter field trip forms start coming home with the preamble, “But they don’t need any volunteers”, or with the box “No” already checked off next the question, “If volunteers are needed, may we contact you?”, even from my daughter.

I have become middle-school-redundant.

And so today, we are off to my daughter’s Grade 8 graduation ceremony after which is a class dance at the local RA centre.  All was going very well with our graduation planning until she learned that I was volunteering at the dance.  This elicited a “You’re kidding, right?” response from a now grown-up thirteen year-old (in all fairness, I did sign up for clean-up, thinking I could stay out of the limelight and her wrath).

Just when I thought I would have to politely decline my assistance at the dance, an email from the organizer came out suggesting the window from the kitchen to the hall would be closed and parents could (should?) keep a low-profile.

So there.

I’m not the only one!

I’ve been practicing a few dance moves though should things get a little boring.

 

 

 

An unsanctioned event organized by students at one of our local high schools has raised the ire of its principal. So much so that emails have been sent home warning parents of this event and its imminent danger.  Parents have been urged to ask their children NOT to participate in this wasteful and harmful event and have been cautioned that local police have been asked to provide additional officers to enforce safety, should the event take place.

What is this undesirable event that parents should be so anxious about?

Is it an illegal swim party at a local quarry? Is it an unchaperoned bush party at one of the many local farm fields? Is it the private post-prom party across the border at a local ski resort (where most of the students will be of legal drinking age)?

No. In fact, these events (which have taken place or are about to take place on my son’s social calendar) have not been deemed sufficiently objectionable by anyone such that parents should be alerted to potential unsafe and/or illegal activity. The low-down on the street is how we get savvy to these events.

The appalling event that I am being warned about is the annual senior student-organized milk chugging contest.

This will be one of the most uncomfortably awkward and sensitive discussions I will have with my teenagers yet.  There’s no way all those conversations about safe sex, drugs, alcohol, academic challenges, work and money chats will serve me for this one.

I’m not sure how to handle this one. Should I go the sour milk is bad for you-route? Or, that unpasteurized milk may make you sick-schtick? How about, milk that comes from cows who’ve been injected hormones have been fed is unacceptable-deal (oh, but that’s illegal in Canada, so will probably not be too effective).  Or the time-tested, waste-not-want-not talk? No, I think I better stick to the fear tactic that always works best:  “Do you have any idea how easy it is to get addicted to milk?”

This isn’t the first time we’ll be talking about milk-chugging contests, and I can assure you, it won’t be the last.

(Sorry. I couldn’t help myself. I hope I don’t get my son suspended).

milk

 

CSIMy three children are all teenagers now and like many today, they are home from school before my husband or I are home from work.  I am generally the last to return home at the end of the day, and while my own housecleaning habits see me tidying up the kitchen before I leave for work, I am not likely to find it this way upon my return. My keen eyes are trained to decode the evidence before me and I know just what to nag about. Because my kids now know:  I am highly specialized CSI expert. I am a Cuisine Scene Investigator.

“Nobody move!” I shout, with the anticipated impact:  none of my teenagers has moved nor has any intention of moving.  Securing the scene is not as challenging they make it out to be on TV.

I begin my preliminary analysis:

I study the spatter stains and I know right away that my son has made himself a big glass of chocolate milk.

I examine the trail and I know my daughter has been into the popcorn.

I analyze the dishevelment of the dishes and I know my oldest son has emptied his lunch bag.

As I evaluate all the physical evidence and the possibilities I try not to jump to conclusions, but it hard not to.  And as I walk around collecting evidence I make sure that my kids do not interfere with my examination of the data.

“Don’t touch that!” I shout.

“But I was just about to put that away.” they lie.

“Too late! I caught you! You are now one of my suspects!”

“You should not be eating cookies right before dinner!” I bark at my son. How does she know? I see the querying look in his eyes. “You left the cookie bag completely open in the pantry!” He rolls his eyes.

“Did I not tell you that the ice cream was for dessert?” testing my daughter. How does she know? says the look in her eyes. “You could have at least rinsed off the ice cream scoop before putting it in the sink.”

Even today, I walked into the kitchen and found a half-filled coffee travel mug on the counter and know that my husband, too, is home from work. Clearly he did not pick up on the trail of evidence already before him. Clearly he is not a cuisine scene investigator – he’s just another instigator.

I finish wiping down this scene and catalog the evidence before the dogs decide to catalog it themselves (knowing the dogs they’re already accessories to many of their crimes that will go unsolved). I then begin my own cuisine scene and start making dinner. Sigh.

CSI … not for sissies … only for moms.

I’m so tired of running.

If that sounds like a euphemism for facing some important life issue, I guess it is. What I mean, though, is I’m tired of long distance running.

I’ve had a on again off again relationship with running for the past thirty years, but we’ve been in a very committed relationship for the past decade or more. Over the past eleven years, I have run ten or eleven major races, including three marathons.  Why go the distance? A little voice told me to.  A little voice told me 5 and 10k were not a commitment. 21.1k was a real commitment – and 42.2k was marriage.

Whatever.

Like many marriages these days, I’m about to file for divorce.

While I can’t say I gave it my all and left it all on the course, I did finish. I’ve crossed that beeping finish line (seriously, in case you didn’t know, finish lines beep) and called a panting, sweaty end to our bond. I made a new vow – no more marathons.

During my race, I passed several signs along the way that I have seen in previous races and used to inspire me but now totally piss me off. If I actually had had the stamina and could spit out the words, here’s how I would have replied:

“Toenails are for sissies!” 

Toenails are not for sissies, they’re for people. I am very attached to my toenails and I think we should stick together. Nevertheless, my toenails look like sissies right now.

 “You’ve done dumber things when you’re drunk.”

True. Very true. I agreed to my first marathon when I was drunk so maybe it really is time to lay off the vino.

 “Run like you stole something.”

I did. All my senses (and feeling below the waist).

 “… because 42.3 kms would be crazy!”

Who’s you trying to kid?! 42.2 is crazy.

 I love your endurance … call me!”

OK, but don’t touch me. I hurt all over.

 “Your perspiration is my inspiration.”

Gross.

 “I’m sure it seemed like a good idea 4 months ago”

It did, but I changed my mind about three months ago.

I’m hobbling around for the next few days, clutching the banister for support. Why did I do this to myself? Maybe celebrating my 50th birthday last year made me think I should do another marathon, as kind of a midlife fitness double-dog dare. Maybe it’s because my brother has done countless marathons and I’m not mature enough to refrain from sibling rivalry.  Maybe I was temporarily insane. I’m experiencing the opposite of that euphoric ‘runner’s high’. Whatever the reason, I’m done. I don’t want to run a marathon again. That marriage is over.

I am, however, totally up for a fling with a 5k, or a one-night stand with a 10k!

 Image

campus tourA few months ago I wrote a post about my eldest son’s applications to post-secondary institutions. And now with a few offers in hand, my eldest son has some decisions to make.

Much to my son’s surprise (not mine), bit by bit those offers started trickling in and we carefully picked the ones we would go and visit. Unlike the parents of many university-bound kids, I chose not to take him on road trip visiting every single post-secondary school between infinity and beyond. Instead, I promised I would take him to visit those to which he received offers, and was most keen to attend. Never having been on a single university tour myself when I was applying, I did want him to make an informed choice.  Depending on the location of these choices, however, a campus tour can set you back the price of a school year’s tuition!

The campus tour is generally pretty standard: the major academic buildings, the library or libraries if the school is large enough, at least one dorm room, at least one dining hall or the dining halls, the sports complex, and all the major support services (academic, health, etc.). It is also possible to arrange more in-depth tours with various faculties and even arrange to meet faculty members or varsity coaches. I’ve quickly realized that a good university tour guide is more than someone who can walk backwards and talk at the same time – they can make or break a prospective student and their family’s first impression.

If you’re lucky, you’ll get the uber- energetic student or recent grad that could not imagine life without this university. As annoying as their enthusiasm and university loyalty can be, the tour will not end until you know everything about the school including the words of the favourite university drinking song or have the university’s motto emblazoned on your brain. Alternatively, you may get a less enthusiastic tour guide who appears to have better things to do than make converts of wide-eyed, naïve high schoolers, and who showcases themselves and their accomplishments inviting you to come the their university so you can truly be as impressive as they have become (doing university tours for a living).

So now begins my son’s decision-making crunch time. He has ultimately has about three weeks now, to make his decision and pay his deposit (as you can guess procrastination runs in our family!). In that time, he will reflect not only on the wisdom of all that he has learned about these respective universities, but also on the words of wisdom of the tour guides.

I hope he took good notes!

 

About Astra
Ottawa mom of 3 poking fun at myself, motherhood, and minor hockey! I am steering through life dodging stinky hockey gear and empty wine bottles.
Socialize With Me

email fb twitter

ig pinterest gplus

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe and receive updates & new posts by email.

Tweet With Me