I am a hockey mom

Hockey parents have this reputation for excessive drinking which I believe is unwarranted.  The truth is, hockey parents do like to drink a lot but, come on, it’s not because we’re hockey parents, it’s because we’re parents. Period. I can assure you that I was drinking long before my kids strapped on their first pair of skates!  For some reason, that does not seem to surprise anyone.

So you know who I think started this nasty rumour about hockey parents and their drinking? I think it was that it was those crazy little hockey kids who drove us to drinking in the first place – they’re the work of the devil.

My daughter asks me stuff like, “Oh, do you really need alcohol to have fun?” I pondered that this weekend as I looked around what passed for a hotel room smaller than my university dorm room and I answered, “Yes.  Yes I do. It is way more fun to be stuck in a little run-down hotel in the middle of nowhere with a glass of chardonnay than being stuck in a little run-down hotel in the middle of nowhere without a glass of chardonnay. In fact, I think you’re having way more fun yourself when I’m here with my little glass of chardonnay, because you’re out there doing God knows what and I don’t even know where you are until I need another little glass of chardonnay and I find you in some random hallway with all your friends eating popcorn” and thankfully not my chardonnay (not yet anyway; I’ll give that a few more years).”  She should know that hockey weekend would be way less fun for the both of us if I was without chardonnay.

How about this one: “I don’t know how you drink that stuff … it tastes terrible!” I don’t believe  it has ever been – nor will it ever be – about the taste. Wait until you have kids – especially hockey kids – and I assure you that little glass of chardonnay will NOT taste terrible, it will be medicinal magic –so will the second glass. And so on …

And when she tells me that I don’t need my wine to have fun, I tell her she doesn’t need the $12 buffet to have fun either.  What’s so fun about paying $12 to witness a couple hundred screaming little girls waiting half an hour for the one single waffle iron that every single one of them seems to “need” at 9:00AM on a Sunday morning?

I’d say we’re even.

white wine

 

Note: This is not a sponsored post, meaning , I was not offered any free booze to write this post. I had to buy it myself. And for you hockey parents, please rink dresponsibly.

 

 

Work-life balance. It’s not easy to put food on the table and hockey skates on kids’ feet without spilling my wine, but I’ve think I’ve got it down now – not the days the wine store is closed mind you, but most days. There are so many evenings in this hockey mom’s life when I have to serve dinner at the speed of light which is generally not a problem for my full time cook. Except I don’t have a full time cook so am always on the look out for dinner recipes that are fast, easy and edible and do not involve an easily memorized phone number.

My slow-cooker is one of my BFFs, but she does occasionally let me down. I quickly realized that the idea of crock-pot cooking is far more tantalizing than the food it renders. But I am about to share a hockey family slow-cooker favourite. I’m not sure who to credit for this one except that I know I got it from my mom about ten years ago – about two years into my hockey momdom. I love this recipe for two reasons: 1. It does not require the meat to be browned first which apparently is a big slow-cooker no-no; and 2. It’s one of the few slow-cooker experiments I’ve undertaken that my family likes (and therefore will actually consume it). I have a standard rule in my house that if a new recipe gets a thumbs-up from 3/5 of my family (dogs, fish and hamster are not eligible voters), it’s worth repeating. If it gets a 5/5, it’s a keeper. This one’s a keeper!

Slow-Cooker Orange Chicken

8-10 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, cut into chunks.

3 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder

1/3 cup orange marmalade

1/3 cup barbeque sauce (try not to use a smoky kind)

2 tablespoons low-sodium soya sauce

1/2 teaspoon Asian chili paste

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon minced gingerroot

1 clove garlic, minced

Green onions, chopped for garnish

Sesame seeds, toasted (optional) for garnish

IMG_2003

Mix the chicken with the flour and 5-spice right in your slow cooker. Combine the marmalade, barbeque sauce, soya sauce, chili paste, sesame oil, ginger and garlic and pour over the chicken. Stir it up, little darlin’, stir it up until all the chicken is covered. Cook on high for 3-4 hours. But here is my secret slow-cooker showstopper timesaver: I put the flour-and-spice-covered chicken in the removable cooking pot and prep the sauce in a measuring cup the night before. I mix it up in the morning and pop it back in the frig. Then I ask one of my kids to put it in the slow cooker when they get home from school. This may involve a reminder note on the front door, a text at 3:00pm, a phone call home at 3:00PM or all three, depending on the teenager. Luckily my oldest ones are home from high school around 3:00PM and areIMG_2006 accepting of this massive responsibility thereby making dinner servable anytime between 6:00-7:00PM. If your kids are unreliable and you consider cooking this on low for 6-8 hours like some slow-cooker recipes suggest (or 10 hours because you leave at 730AM and are not home before 5:00PM), this recipe will be overcooked and dry and not fit for human consumption (but the dogs will still love it).

IMG_2007Serve the chicken over rice with a side of steamed broccoli or green beans (I have a microwave steamer so I can prep this in advance too). This meal is on my table at least twice a month during hockey season. My son even takes the leftovers to school for lunch. Yes, he does. And he’s a teenager.

If you have any hockey family friendly recipes, I’d love to try them out 🙂

hockey handshake adultYou know what I like about hockey? Hmmm, not that much, actually. I should be careful in whose company I utter such blasphemy for I am a Canadian, after all, and a veteran hockey mom. But honestly, it’s such a long season, and it’s so cold in those arenas, and I just don’t get it sometimes. The hockey that is; I just don’t get the hockey. I get that my kids love it though, and that’s why I am there. After spending an entire evening sewing namebars on to my kids’ hockey jerseys I cursed the hockey season …just not out loud. You want to know what I do like about hockey? I like the postgame handshake. That’s the highlight of the game for me.

Seriously. I think it’s just about the nicest thing in sports these days.

If you set aside for a moment the athlete egos, the ongoing body checking debate, the increasing awareness over serious concussions, and the number of hockey players with toothless grins and/or expensive dental work, you have to agree that the last bastion of sportsmanship in any sport is the post-game handshake. And I’m pretty sure it happens more often in hockey than any other sport.

I’ve been around hockey my entire life – I’ve even watched a game or two. But as a Canadian and as hockey mom, now in my 13th season (okay, I lied; I’ve watched way more than a game or two!), nothing makes me prouder of my own kids – my hockey players – than watching them during the post game handshake. Whether the kids have played their worst game ever, suffered the most humiliating defeat possible, or suffered both mental and possibly physical injury at the hands of the opposing team, they shake hands at the end of the game. That’s all. It’s not something I taught them, it’s just simply the thing to do at the end of a hockey game – an honourable tradition.

Oh, I know there are famous handshake ‘snubs’ in hockey history and that the ‘bad blood’ from a particularly emotional game will occasionally spill over once in the handshake lineup, but not often. If there is one thing you can count on when you go to a hockey game, it’s the hockey handshakes. The game officials will always skate to the benches and shake the hands of each team’s bench staff. The players will always skate to their goalie at the end of the game and hug him or her before congratulating each other. Then, players will always line up at centre ice after a game to shake the hands of their opponents and then skate to the opposing bench to shake the hands of the bench staff. What other sport can boast that?

Sadly you do not see the postgame handshake as often anymore in professional hockey games except at the end of a play-off series or end of the season, where it is still a time-honoured tradition. Clearly the practice ingrained in these players in their youth, comes alive again in the play off season. And that makes me happy.

It reminds us that sportsmanship runs deeper than the sport, and it reminds me I get to go home!

hockey handshake kids

hockey terms2Have you ever done a ‘dafter’?

You would think after thirteen years as a hockey mom, and almost fifty years as a Canadian, I would have learned a thing or two about hockey. And you would be right. I have learned a thing. Or two.

I still don’t understand why they call it an offside. The blue line doesn’t separate sides, it separates ends. I think it would be better understood by everyone –meaning me – if they just called it an offender (see what I did there? Off-ender?). I am also at a complete loss trying to figure out why the refs drop the puck where they do after a particularly confusing intentional offside. How do they really know it was intentional? Sounds kind of unsportsmanlike if you ask me.

Anyway, I do have my own hockey mom vocabulary that is not at all confusing. In fact, I think my hockey terms clear a whole lot of things up very nicely. I would be so proud if some of these go viral, so help me out!

Wingering

This is the word I use to describe the amount of time spent waiting before a game or practice and the time spent lingering after a game or practice. Everyone knows that in minor hockey, there is a whole lot of wingering going on. Wingering can be a pain – made even more painful if you’ve already spent a long time travooling.

Travooling

When we live in one part of the city and my kid’s game is in another part of the city (or another city altogether), the travel to and from a hockey games can be long and use up tons of gas. This travel can be made even longer if it’s my turn to carpool and the level of testosterone or estrogen in the car is double its recommended limits.  Travooling takes patience.

Socialaiting

Similar to wingering, though this is what I do when I’m in more of a social mood and I chit-chat the whole time that I am wingering. Mostly I winger, sometimes I socialait.

Dafter

I do a dafter when I cheer loudly but inappropriately. Like yelling “Shoot!” when no one on our team has the puck. Or “Skate! Skate! Skate!” when it’s clearly going to be an icing call. My poor timing is legendary. Sometime I forget that the goalie has changed ends and I yell, “Get it outta there!” when really the whole point of the game is not to get it out of there. I miss the point of the game sometimes. Sometime I get my kids team names mixed up. That’s a dafter too.

Bleacherache

Occasionally I have lower back pain from sitting on a bleacher too long with no back rest. My butt goes numb from sitting too long on those bleachers when I’ve forgotten my hockey blankey. My feet get sore from wingering and socialaiting. I get a headache from the stupid vuvuzela one of the siblings brought to the game. Varying degrees of pain … one big bleacherache. Take two glasses of wine and do it all over again in the morning.

The hockey hanker

No one needs wine at the end of the day more than a hockey mom. Every hockey mom has had a hockey hanker at one point or another during the weekend. It’s a hankering for some alcohol.

So next time you see me wingering at the arena, ask me to socialait. You can tell me all about your bleacheraches and I’ll tell you all about mine. Then you can pretend you didn’t hear my dafters. In any event, I hope to relieve our hockey hankers together!!

Cheers to a new hockey season!

hockey terms

I can’t lie.

I admit I was pretty excited when, in the spring of 2012, my two sons decided to hang up their goalie pads.  After their ten year-long careers, they retired from minor hockey to live off non-existent product endorsements and mom’s cooking. With the boys no longer playing hockey and my daughter’s hockey association’s decision to play only inter-association only, my hockey travel was dramatically reduced. I estimated that I added ten to twelve hours of free time to my week. I marveled at the hours that lay before me and often remarked out loud: “So this is what it ‘Saturday’ feels like! I like it!”  I certainly did not miss driving to every God-forsaken rural community centre within a 100km radius of Ottawa in the dead of winter, that’s for sure.

You would think that with all this free time I would no longer have expired dairy products in my refrigerator.

You would be wrong.

My free time has been consumed otherwise.  I perfected the art of social media-induced procrastination.  I discovered the second cup of coffee.  I made a friend who was not a hockey mom. I watched a whole movie without pausing and stayed up past midnight at least twice. Life was decadent.

But my hedonism was brief.  Late in the summer, after a year off hockey, my eldest son declared that he would like to play for one more season before heading off to university in the fall of 2014 (God willing).  He returned to the arena for try-outs and was successful at reclaiming a spot as goalie for the major midget competitive B team on which he’s played for most of the past seven years.

You know what this means, don’t you?  I have to polish my goalie mask pendant.  I have to up my heart meds.  I have to find little evergreen tree car air fresheners. And I have to buy new winter tires for I am returning to every God-forsaken rural community centre once again.

But you know what?  As I walked into the first exhibition game I was welcomed once again by more than the familiar scent of canteen coffee and stale sweat.  I was acknowledged by other hockey parents who’d not quite yet forgotten me.  Though they didn’t quite raise their mugs and shout “Astra!” in unison, they instead uttered a collective groan that could only mean “Oh God! Not her again!”  That’s okay.  Sometimes it really is nice to go where everyone knows your name (and your favourite post-game beverage), and they’re always glad you came (but only put up with you because you brought the goalie).  In case you’ve missed my hockey mom posts, know that there are more to come …

Game on.

name bars

There comes a time when every woman must own up to her weakness. Today is my time .. and you are my weakness.

I’ll be honest, the first day I laid eyes on you, I wasn’t entirely sure I would like you, let alone come to love you. You are not the type I’m usually attracted to but there was something about your sheer ruggedness that won me over. I was simply no match for your resourcefulness or your uncanny ability to be always in the right place and the right time.

My life was falling apart when I came to know you and I was surprised how quickly you put it back together. Like Amazing Grace, I once was lost but now am found. Oh, I know you had but one purpose in mind when you came into my life, but how quickly that evolved into so many other things. Whatever was in pieces around me and in my life, quickly became whole again, just by your simple touch. We’ve stuck it out, through thick and thin. So for better or for worse, I pledge to you my faithfulness.

How did I arrive at such devotion? Well, as in all relationships, it started with the little things:

Like the time my purse handle snapped on a cold, winter’s morning in the parking lot. You were there for me.

Like the time the sole of my son’s boot came off. You were there for me.

Like the time my laundry room sink kept dripping incessantly. You were there for me.

Like the time I ran out of scotch tape to wrap my son’s birthday gift. You were there for me.

Like the time my hem fell apart on my dress pants just before a big meeting. You were there for me.

Like the time I couldn’t watch TV because the batteries kept falling out of my remote. You were there for me.

Like the time I had to leave a note on the garage door telling my kids I went to the grocery store. You were there for me.

Like the time I accidently tore the cover of a library book. You were there for me.

And, how could I forget the time my bedroom lamp socket wobbled. Oh, how you were there for me.

So now I find you indispensable and I know I can never live without you in my life …

my beloved …

my righteous …

my steadfast …

my hockey tape.

 

Yep, hockey season is about to begin.

hockey tape

 

Not so long ago, hockey was pretty much a year-round thing in our household, save for perhaps the month of July. All three of my children played hockey, and then some played spring hockey, and then some did spring 4-on-4 leagues, and then some went to summer hockey camps, and then some went to late summer try-outs. I exhaled deeply in July and sucked in my breath again around mid-August. After about 11 seasons of minor hockey, my boys decided to hang up their goalie skates. Gone for them are the try-outs, the hockey camps, the spring 4-on-4, the spring hockey leagues and the winter hockey league. Now, it’s just my daughter playing the regular hockey season and some spring 4-on-4. Sigh.

As you can imagine, the question I get asked an awful lot these days is, “What are you doing with all your free time?”

It’s a fair question. When you suddenly regain 15+ hours a week from your schedule of driving to various arenas every week, standing around, eating shrivelled hot dogs, freezing your butt off and laundering putrid UnderArmour, you would think by now that I’ve mastered a new language or learned to play the oboe or something.  Sadly, I have not.

“I’m enjoying my Transition Year” is what I tell people.  I need to properly ease into the years ahead alternating between short bouts of productivity and prolonged bouts of profound laziness, to which I feel entitled. I actually feel hypocritical now when another exasperated hockey mom bemoans her crazy hockey week to me and I answer, “Tell me about it!”  because, really, what do I have to tell?

The extra free time aside, I am already worried that I’m losing some of those indispensable talents I’ve acquired during my hockey mom years.

I noticed for instance that it’s getting tougher and tougher to fake a good headache on a Saturday night (I think my husband thought I would have more free time too). Perhaps I should incorporate phrases like ‘fortuitous bounce’ or ‘puck luck’ into my pillow talk just to make me feel like I’m still in the game.

I also noticed that I can no longer nose my car into that tight parking spot right between two massive Ford F150s. And those calories I burned clambering out of the back hatch because I can’t open either the driver’s side door or the passenger door? There is no other cardio exercise that can be as easily combined with such a worthy photo op.

Just last weekend, I totally forgot to pack my travel wine glass for a weekend away.  A shameful and unforgettable lack of preparation. Every woman needs a good travel goblet.

I’m also worried that I am losing my aptitude to pee standing up. An astonishing skill cultivated from years of drinking copious amounts of coffee and then having to deal with a grimy arena washroom. I cringe when I think what will happen when I am next confronted with a repulsive gas station restroom or a pit toilet.

Most of all though, of all the household uses for hockey tape, I hope I never lose sight of the fact that in can be used to wrap the frayed edges of a skate lace that has lost its aglet so that it can easily fit through the grommet again.  I know, right?  That one’s going on my resume!

And what’s going to happen to my alcohol tolerance? I’m ashamed to admit that just last night, I felt tipsy after only two shots of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey.  Talk about a wuss!

I never thought I would say this, but can you tell I miss hockey? I think I need an intervention.

fireball whiskey

If you ever wonder what it’s like to have an intimate dinner date with 40 people, stop by The Momoir Project and read my story about hockey team dinners!

momoir proj

I love this time of the year.  Not just because Spring has finally arrived but because our hockey year has ended for another season.  Enjoy this repost from this most wonderful time of the year last year.
hockey mom ecard

The minor hockey season is over!  Now that my daughter’s hockey season is over, I can briefly back off firing on all cylinders.

Do you know how I know that the minor hockey season is over?  I know because in this week alone –

  • I did not have to navigate hockey bags and water bottles to put my groceries in the car.
  • I ate dinner … sitting down.
  • I cooked dinner, not Mr. Mozzarella.
  • I made a dinner reservation for 2 people, instead of 40 people.
  • I took my bottle of wine out of the refrigerator, instead of a cooler.
  • I did not launder a single piece of UnderArmor.
  • Not once did I make a pit-stop to the skate sharpening shop.
  • I shaved my legs.

Yep, no doubt about it.  All these activities point to a sure sign that the minor hockey season is over.

Until this past 2012-2013 season, I had three kids in hockey, so August to April has always been a gong-show. If you add to that, the occasional stint in spring hockey and 4-on-4 hockey, then the season is extended through the end of June.

My non-hockey friends have all but left me for dead and the truth is, I’ve had to check my own pulse once in a while just to be sure.  Some days both the car and I were on autopilot.

During the hockey season, our attendance at family gatherings is prioritized according to a very misinterpreted scale of diminishing inheritance.  Friends’ dinner party invitations are almost always declined unless I am confident the hostess won’t blow a fuse if either my husband or I show up just as the food is being cleared from the table.

Spring sports haven’t quite geared up which means I an enjoying a brief respite (those few days between hockey and baseball ). I feel like I’ve surfaced for air and am actually accomplishing more than just treading water.  I feel n.o.r.m.a.l.

I know “normal” is short-lived, however.  I know this armistice is really just a tenuous treaty between me and my iCal, who swings from ally to enemy on an almost daily basis.  Soon Spring will hit the fan and I’ll be chasing down stray pieces of soccer and baseball equipment and back to logging on the miles driving to various clubs and lessons.

Not like we do between August and April, though.  No.  Hockey season is a formidable beast… and this beast is now in hibernation.

hockey mom1

I recently read a posting on the Hockey Mom in Canada Facebook fanpage asking her readership (all hockey moms) how they recuperate from a busy hockey tournament weekend. Perfect timing since my daughter and I just returned from a hockey tournament weekend. The responses varied somewhat but for the most part focused on selfless motherhood tasks: getting the laundry done, heading out for groceries, making sure they and their family members got caught up on personal hygiene and sleep and – the best one yet – immediately heading back out to an arena for a hockey game of one of their other children.

Holy sweet mothers of Jesus.

After 12 years as a hockey mom, I sure could stand to learn a few things from these candidates for sainthood who put their own exhaustion aside and continue to perform miracles.  I was about to add a few of my post-tournament weekend activities and they just did not seem to complement those that had been posted. In fact, my post-tournament “To-Do” list suggests that I’m on a fast track straight to Hell rather than the pearly gates Heaven.

Boston pizzaOkay, so maybe I don’t run right out and do the groceries. What’s wrong eating eating the leftovers from 4 consecutive Boston Pizza meals and leftover coffee? It’s tough to buy groceries when you know your entire next paycheque is going to the detox program at the Rideauwood Addiction Centre, not to mention paying for at least one speeding ticket on the 401.

Okay, so maybe the kids won’t have clean clothes for school on Monday, but I’ll get to it. First, I have got to talk to my lawyer about my chances for getting off on that Drunk and Disorderly charge from Saturday night’s team dinner. Not sure why the server took offense to my suggesting she was a big pain in my Jack Astor when she wouldn’t serve me my sixth glass of wine. Puhlease, like she’s never heard that before!

Yes, my daughter and I will catch up on some much needed sleep for this past weekend, but not until she helps craft my letter of apology letter to the housekeeping department of the Courtyard Marriott. It’s half her fault the room looked like that anyway, right? And we all know an apology letter from a minor scores more brownie points with head office (and The Jerry Springer Show).

wine bottle binAs for heading right out to another hockey game, well, that’s actually pretty believable, considering that on the way I can return all my empty wine bottles to the recycling centre before my husband counts them. Plus, it will give me just enough time to delete some photos from my camera. Bonus.

And this, People, is why I will never be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show (but for some reason, Jerry Springer won’t leave me alone).

I am seriously out of wine, now.jerry springer

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.
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