(Photo credit to Godello.ca)

(Photo credit to Godello.ca)

For some reason, hockey moms have a teensy weensy reputation for drinking. I sure I didn’t start it but may have contributed to that rumour over the course of my hockey mom years. Perhaps it comes from that little shot of brandy in the coffee to get you through a 6AM practice or maybe the Canadian beer smuggled across the border for the Rochester tournament or very likely having to squeeze a dozen or so women into a hotel room to socialize. Whatever the reason, there’s usually a good story.

I realize it’s just the beginning of the hockey season and nothing could have possibly gone wrong yet, right? But once in a while, a hockey mom’s day goes so terribly offside that some liquid relief is necessary. The inspiration for this post came from a viral posting on some pretty hysterical wine pairings written by Jeff W. As a veteran hockey mom, I’m here to help with your hockey mom wine pairings.

The setting:  You’ve been driving through blinding snow all the live-long day and finally get to the hotel. You do not want to be asked, “Do you have a reservation?” Obviously you have a reservation. You’re also obviously the last one here since the only parking spot left is in another time zone. There were no trolleys in the lobby, they’re all the second floor being used as bumper cars by the three Atom teams staying there. As you approach the front desk whisking sopping wet hair away from your eyes, breathlessly muttering, “Ughhh what a drive! I cannot wait to get out of these clothes,” to the front desk clerk, who peers over a computer with apathy since you’ve obviously interrupted a really good part of episode two of season seven of Grey’s Anatomy. “I don’t seem have a reservation for you. Are you sure you’re at the right hotel?” Oh, dear God.

The Drink: Crown Royal Special Reserve

Pairs nicely with desperation and lost hotel reservations

The setting: Somehow you’ve driven all the way to the hockey arena without your child’s hockey stick. It’s their job to put it in the car right? So if their signature top-shelf wrist shot doesn’t make its mark because they had to borrow their teammate’s back up stick which is either three sizes too small or too large, that is not your problem.

The Drink:  Three Sticks 2012 Chardonnay

Pairs nicely with incessant nagging

The setting: You’re sitting through your third minor hockey game of the day. Now you’ve been tossed out of a game by the referee. You’re not THAT hockey parent, you’ve never been THAT hockey parent – something just snapped. Call it exhaustion. Call it frustration. But call a spade a spade – it was still inexcusable. Now you’re totally embarrassed and you just want to slink into the back seat of your car and cool your jets … and steal the fifth of vodka from your oldest son’s backpack. You’ll like this one – just don’t drink the whole bottle and then go back into the arena to apologize.

The drink:          Polar Ice Vodka (best consumed right out of the bottle)

Pairs nicely with remorse and embarrassment

The setting: Your child has just advanced to the next round of playoff hockey. This is entirely unexpected given their regular season play but – still – you’re really excited for them. Until you discover that the playoff games conflict with the girls’ weekend you’ve been planning for months (assuming the hockey season would be over). After 80 emails you’ve come to the realization that there’s no changing the date. You’re just going to have to suck it up and tell your husband he’s on his own.

The drink: Dog House White VQA (husbands are equally if not more familiar with this varietal)

Pairs nicely with – um – being in the dog house.

So as you can see, I am clearly an expert hockey oenologist. Let me help you! Whatever your hockey mom situation, I am certain I can find the drink for you! Leave your hockey mom traumas in the comments and I will prescribe the right remedy for you. Oh, and cheers, by the way!!


Please drink responsibility and know your options for getting home from hockey safely!


I’ve been a lot of widows in my life: a golf widow, a hockey widow, work-travel widow; never a real widow. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it. Like this week for example …

He departed for the International Old-timer’s Hockey Tournament in Munich, Germany, a mere 6,300 kilometres and six time zones away, and will be gone for six days. This boy’s weekend was pitched to me some time ago as a fun, international hockey tournament for his group of friends that are adult recreational hockey players. “Great idea,” I thought. “Go; you’ll have fun.”

Of course no one goes to Germany for a weekend so the “weekend” turned into six days, which I should have predicted because his golf “weekend” in the spring is also a six-day event. Some people will say it’s just a coincidence that this tournament coincides with Oktoberfest. Those some people must think I’m stupid. First of all, he left with no hockey equipment, claiming he was just a sub, a call-up in case he was needed due to injury or some other Oktoberfest-induced incapacitation.

And he casually slips me the itinerary as he slips out the door to the airport …

There are exactly two mentions of this hockey tournament in the two-page itinerary – on Saturday and Sunday. There are at least nine references to “free time in Bad Tolz”, “free night on your own”, “free morning on your own”, “dinner and party”, “Munich dinner and beer tasting”, “party at Oktoberfest tent” and finally, in case he’s still at a loss with what to do with himself in Europe, a “free day on your own”. With this kind of itinerary, the risk of Oktoberfest-induced incapacitation is less of a risk and more of a inevitability. I sincerely hope he’s not the only substitute (I fear he might be a little unreliable in that category … with this kind of itinerary).

There used to be a time that I didn’t like to go away for weekends on my own because it was too much work. If that sounds like a paradox then you must be a man. I then decided it was time to take care of “me” and I would plan weekends away but not before I arranged any necessary carpools for all my kids’ sports and activities, left a refrigerator full of meals and out clean clothes away in their closets. So naturally, I spent the first twenty-four hours of my weekend away … sleeping.

Soon after having kids, my husband and I agreed to two trips away without each other the year, and no carry-overs. That was until I realized that most of his weekends away were six days long. In the early days, it took a lot of energy and planning just to walk out the front door (but always worth it). As the kids grew older I got bolder! I now take at least three or four weekends away and still leave a few days on the table! There’s my annual Soul Sisters Weekend with my sister, my sisters-in-law and my female first cousins. There’s my now-annual reunion with my college friends. There’s my annual writers conference (where with writing part is often kind of like the hockey part in this trip of Peter’s). Rarely do my weekends away involve anything golf or hockey-related. But yes, sleeping is still very much a big part of my weekends away!

There’s room for improvement here so am open to suggestions (… and invitations!).

Where to next …?

(photo tophdgallery.com)
(photo tophdgallery.com)

This post previous appeared on HockeyNow.ca; you can see the original here.


It’s here already! I can’t believe it! Reunion is this weekend! What should I wear? Should I even bother going? Does my hair look alright? Have I gained any weight since the last reunion? More importantly, have any of my friends gained weight since the last reunion? I wonder if Amanda will be there with a new husband again. What if no one recognizes me? What if no one talks to me? What if I don’t remember anyone’s names?

All this nagging self-doubt is swirling around my head right now as I contemplate my reunion this coming weekend. Is everyone so insecure about reunions this weekend or is it just me?

By “reunion” I mean Arena Reunion – the big party that is house league sort-outs and takes place this weekend

This season, my daughter is playing first year Midget hockey. She and her hockey equipment will convene with about eighty-five other fifteen- to eighteen-year old girls at the Nepean Sportsplex here in Ottawa. Once the inevitable piercing screams and recap of summer adventures of their own Arena Reunions simmer down, eighty-five pinny-sporting girls will forget their summer tan lines and hit the ice. They will all participate in a series of scrimmages intended to evaluate their skill level and ensure that all the house league teams are properly balanced.

My daughter is pretty excited. Our house has been a tornado of activity the last two weeks in getting her two older brothers now retired from minor hockey andoff to university. She was entirely neglected during most of that maelstrom – a position she did not appreciate. Between numerous trips to Bed, Bath & Beyond and Canadian Tire for all the necessities of dorm life, and all the joys that come with student accounts, course choosing and text book shopping, she received uncharacteristically few reminders for her to double check her hockey gear to make sure it all fit. Thankfully, all that she requires is a new hockey stick (which no one thought to pick up on our several trips to Canadian Tire of course) and a pair of socks. She will also now have the undivided attention of both her parents (until Thanksgiving at least) – just the way she wants it!

And I will be amongst friends again. I will reunite with my fellow hockey moms, most of whom I have not seen since my daughter’s season wrapped up last April. I won’t know all eighty-five of these girls or their families but I will know a good number of them and I am looking forward to seeing them at the Arena Reunion. Very soon, I will be getting to know sixteen of them even better – our team for the year. They will be my second family for the next eight months. And I hope I remember their names!

So do you think it’s possible for me to lose ten pounds by Sunday afternoon?

Three cheers for the start of a new season! May your team be balanced and your coffee mug be filled!

hockey tryouts

One of my biggest pet peeves is paying for parking mostly because I rarely carry cash with me anymore. Yet I know there are some places where paid parking just a given: sporting events, the airport, train stations, and most downtown hotels or public parking garages.

As I pull into this parking lot however, in front of the medical office I am about to enter, I am struck by a great injustice that is “parking”. I see the parking signs “Pay for Parking Here”. Right in front of a medical office. Everywhere else on this busy, primarily retail road in Ottawa the parking is free. And given that this is a medical imaging centre and a physiotherapy office, the irony is crueler than the inconvenience of digging for coins in the depths of my purse.

Across the street is ample free parking in front of Home Outfitters, Future Shop and ToysRUs and all the usual big box outlets. I think to myself, “I could just park over there, and cross this busy four lane road, and just show them, that I am NOT going to pay for parking.” But I’m in a hurry, barely on time to my medical appointment, and have to get back to the office as quickly as I can. So, I do what everyone else seems to do when visiting this office:  I pay for the parking.

I half expect to be asked to pay for the elegant blue booties I’m asked to don so that no one in the office is inconvenienced by my winter slush trail. Maybe that receptionist who shows me to the physician’s office is expecting a tip? I can assure you that ultrasound technician isn’t getting one from me after she had the gall to serve up that jelly to me (on me) stone cold! And what? No customer feedback card? Clearly, no one here is too concerned about repeat business.

What strikes me unreasonable about being forced to pay for parking here is thinking of all those who are coming to this clinic, though, because they are not so able-bodied. They’re here to improve their not-so-able body. It’s offensive that they’re being taken advantage of and being forced to pay for parking in sea of free parking lots that they really cannot access without a great deal of effort.

I think back to the days I dragged my 2 and 3-year old boys to my medical appointments when pregnant with their sister. I came across the same situation: want to eat or shop here? Your parking is free. Have a medical issue? That will be $5 an hour, please.

Clearly, our socialized healthcare does not spill over into the parking lot. Ah well. Guess I should be grateful. I can still walk; therefore, I can still dance … and still pay for parking.

Rant over.


It is early morning and still dark in my makeshift yoga studio with only the dim light of a lone streetlamp streaming through my living room shutters. This sliver of light settles on my yoga mat stretched out and beckons my stiff and aching aging body. I’m a two-faced practitioner: there are mornings I love waking up early and allowing myself an hour of stillness, breathing and asana and there are other mornings where yoga and the fact that it’s 530AM just suck and I pull the covers over my head and hit the snooze for the tenth time.

This morning was of the “this sucks” variety, when I think all my yoga teachers are conspiring to convert me to kale smoothies with chia seeds. No amount of blissful shavasana will inspire me to give up pinot grigio and poutine.

I have managed to get myself onto my mat with open heart and mind even if neither of my eyes are. I do this because I know from experience that if I leave my yoga to the evening, that battle will be won by Facebook, laundry and my daughter’s Elizabethan-era food project (damn you, Grade 9 English curriculum).

I’m about halfway through this morning’s yoga routine and starting to finally feel my mind and body slowly cooperating. I open my eyes after one pose and notice a tiny fluff off to my left in the foyer. I close my eyes again and curse the shedding hairy dog mess, but when I open my eyes I notice that my “fluff” is no longer there. In fact, it’s moved an entire foot! Believe me, I am not generating enough kinetic energy here to make a feather move so I interrupt my practice and crawl on my hands and knees over to the foyer. I then realize that this is nothing close to a dust bunny dog hair fluff but is instead a frog!

A little frog the size of my thumb has somehow found its way into my home, more remarkably into my living room and even most astonishingly – uninvited – into my yoga practice! Not what I would call a Zen moment.

We stare at each other for a moment but I know I have to do something with this yoga intruder before my dogs find him and eat him – or my daughter finds him and decides to make a pet of him (which would actually be worse, I think).

I return Riberto to the wild outdoors using a soup ladle and kitchen towel. After which I think it was only fitting that I finished off my morning with bhekasana, or frog pose. I suppose Riberto was simply an emissary send to help me get it right!

The aspiring yogini and helpful frogini… Hand in hand – or hand in webbed appendage, as the case may be.

And that is my story about the day a frog came to yoga.



Winter is coming but I’m not talking about freezing those buns.

I read recently that several major US companies have added coverage for fertility preservation procedures to their employee benefit plans. Basically, this involves extracting a woman’s eggs from her ovaries and freezing them until she is ready to have a family. Get it? You’re freezing your buns before they’re in the oven! Given the opportunity, there are so many other parts of my body that I would have frozen at a younger age had I the chance before I would even consider freezing my eggs!

Of course freezing eggs and sperm has long been medical procedures available to people –many choose to undertake the procedure before undergoing serious medical treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation. Another reason for undergoing such a procedure of course is because a woman’s ‘younger self’ eggs are more viable and healthier than her eggs at an advance maternal age, thereby leading to a healthier pregnancy and baby, all the while allowing a woman to focus on her career before having a family. Many women I know did that anyway, but I guess now there’s medical intervention available to take some of the worry out of advanced maternal conception and pregnancy. Of course, there’s no procedure available to take the worry about raising those children … other than perhaps that other cure-all that’s also pretty decent when frozen (margaritas).

We know that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, but it would appear that all play and no work might get Jane fired. Perhaps this all just a little too paternalistic. Companies like Apple and Facebook are taking care of your ovaries so you can take care of the Apple and Facebook? We don’t want you having babies while you’re young and upwardly mobile so please freeze them and have your babies when you’re past your prime and no longer worth much to your organization. Just pop those eggs in the freezer next to the leftover chili – or better yet where you’ll soon be storing your pumped breast milk.

Please lets lobby for a little more gender reciprocity here too, while we’re at it. Maybe I would have liked it if my husband’s hair follicles could have been frozen and preserved for later use too.

Pretty soon we won’t have the need for the political debate over extended maternity benefits because women will just delay having their babies until their retirement – when they have nothing but time on their hands.

Think of it … mother and daughter, father and son in matching bibs … matching walkers … sharing in mushy food dinner conversations. I sense a bonding – and business – opportunity here!

Is it just me, or does that title make you giggle too?

CBC recently reported  that Air Canada pilots were leaving pornographic material in the cockpit.  Apparently the airline’s chief pilot and director of fleet operations expressed his disappointment that he has to warn pilots again against doing so.

Again?! The airline’s chief pilot had to express his disappointment … again?! I can’t believe this is actually a recurring issue within our national airline!

Some sources say that the pilots doing so are just trying to upset their female colleagues for infiltrating what has been primarily a male-dominated role.

I’m not sure what upsets me more: knowing that the pilots may be considerably distracted while piloting the plane I’m on (and we all know the judgement of men is seriously impaired when “distracted”) or the fact that they chose the most ridiculously juvenile tactic possible to upset Air Canada’s female pilots! What are they? Twelve?!  Hopefully some of the smarter Air Canada pilots are comforting their male colleagues by telling them they’re going to get fired long before any female pilot quits over finding a porn mag!

May I also just say that this interesting journalist material contrasts sharply to the En Route magazine left for the rest of us in the cabin (not that I’m complaining).

Between this and the Jian Gomeshi debacle, Canadians are seriously getting a bad rep of late (a beaver as our national mascot certainly doesn’t help). Just to make it even juicier, the internet porn site Brazzers recently offered free membership to Air Canada pilots. Yes, Virginia, there are internet porn sites.  All the Air Canada pilot new members have to do is tweet out the porn site. Hmmm, and just how many pilots will stupid enough to take them up on that offer? Then again, if they were stupid enough to leave porn in the cockpit …

Maybe the motto per ardua ad astra (“through adversity to the stars”) needs to be modified a bit for Air Canada to per ardua cum astra (“through adversity with the stars” … the porn stars…).  It’s almost too perfect.

I for one sincerely hope that those pilots get back to the serious business of flying a plane, and leave the gender discrimination to fashion designers and household cleaning product ads. And I, for one, will be referring to it as a flight deck from now on!

Please ensure your seat belts are securely fastened, folks!

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.




Last week, I was invited to participate in a “Blog Hop” where people share three bloggers they love and then those bloggers do the same.  I was “tagged” by the spirited and hysterically funny Amy Sherman, whose laughter is as infectious as her writing is witfaced. She and the others I’ve met through various writing circles, are an inspiration to me. In this blog hop, I am asked to share my writing process. Since my blog is called The Dustbunny Chronicles, naturally I have nicknamed my writing process is The Dustbunny Way.

  1.  Why do I write what I do?I write mostly out of a sense of obligation. I have a failing memory and am trying to capture the snippets of glory my generally mundane life. Kinda like Luminosity for the Soul. I write to remember. I write so I don’t forget. I write … wait. What was the question?
  2. How does my writing differ from others in its genre?I write mostly humour through occasionally I veer off-genre. I write primarily in English, as do many in my genre but I am also fluent in Sarcastic and Cynicism. Also I tend to mock myself in my writing mostly because I have so much material but I occasional move on to mocking others (particularly my husband and my teenagers – and other people though very rarely (like the high school principal in my most recent post).
  3. How does my writing process work?My writing process begins when I have a brilliant, totally captivating and hilarious idea for a writing piece, which I then promptly forget. That’s about it. Honestly though, I work full time as a Human Resource professional and am mother of three teenagers so my writing tends to get done on a very haphazard and occasional basis, limited to evenings and weekends and when I can’t sleep.
  4. What am I working on/writing?I recently finished writing my humour memoir, Offside by a Mile – Confessions of a Hockey Mom. Someone should commission a scientific research study on the effects of Zamboni fumes on one’s memory (that’s not what the book is about but certainly how it starts!).  My book has been professionally edited but I have recently sent it to three Beta readers for a little more dicing and slicing. I’ve begun dangling query letters in front of agents but so far I am scoreless. This memoir has been a true labour of love, so one way or another it will be published, of that I am certain. I also maintain this blog as best I can to hone my writing skills for project #2 which is about …  hmmm …. (see answer to question number 3).

Now for paying it forward:  There are so many amazing humour writers out there whose work makes me and the rest of the world laugh and smile. I have a very hard time picking out three. I never miss a post by Amy and she linked up to two of my favourites as well with Sarah Hunt and Michelle Lamarca.

You will enjoy these funny women – but also maybe take a look and laugh at these three:

Cece Harbor, is the Knowledge Maven. She provides just the right amount of inspiration and motivation just when I need it!

Terri Spilman is The Laughing Mom  whom I had occasion to meet at the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop. She understands the power of humour (all mothers should!)!

Blunt Moms is a website for women and for moms and for those that are both! As their byline suggests, the writing (from a series of contributors) is honest, direct and surprisingly hilarious. Sometimes I cringe; sometimes I laugh out loud. That’s what being blunt is all about!





I read an article recently in which a young mother had grown tired of the way she looked as a stay-at-home mom. Her former self as a working professional had paid a lot of attention to her personal appearance and made sure she always looked her best.  As a mother, her personal best had deteriorated from “Hell Ya” to “Haggard”.  She’d fallen into that familiar habit of motherhood attire:  yoga pants, no makeup and unkempt hair in a ponytail, if attended to at all.  She realized something had to change when she caught sight of her reflection in a store window and mistook herself for a street person.

Now, if she did in fact look like a street person, then yeah, maybe a shower and a new pair of shoes are in order. But I’m pretty sure she was not sitting on a piece of cardboard, begging for money with tattered shoes and yellowing teeth. I’m pretty sure she looked like 90% of young moms and all she needed was a good day at the spa (which she would spend texting the babysitter or her husband about the kids anyway).

But then she went on to write how she turned herself around a little, made sure to shower daily, put on real clothes, a little make-up and took a brush to her hair. It took barely any extra time and she felt so much better about herself and urged all moms to try it because we deserved it.

I think that’s that last thing a ragged, sleep-deprived mom wants to hear. I felt sorry for her. And if I’d read that post back when my kids were young, I would not have been jumping on that bandwagon too quickly.  My three kids are teenagers now and I am back in the paid workforce but I do recall the long stretches of my street person lookalike days.  So what?  My kids didn’t notice and they were the ones for whom I’d forsaken my ‘Hell Ya’ look in the first place.  I am still to this day, however, deeply offended when my husband or any another man comments on a woman – a mother – suggesting, “Oh, she’s really let herself go.” Well, duh! She only has two hands and both of them are full.

It’s a phase of motherhood and I wouldn’t dare make any mother feel guilty for her motherhood dress code. Yes, I’m back to work but I don’t feel bad about my showerless, yoga pants days. They made me a better mom.

And by the way, you should have seen what my husband looked like after a single day alone with all three of our kids. Boy! Had he let himself go!

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. astra
Buy Astra’s book “Offside by a Mile”!
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