Sunday, February 16, 2014

Date night with the 'dogs

Yesterday I wrote about Jeff's and Sydney's "date" to the Father/Daughter ball. What were AJ and I doing during that time, you might ask. We went on a date of our own. To a Bulldogs Hockey game.

AJ had accompanied Jeff on the trip to the flower store to pick up corsages, and then proved himself a gentleman by presenting me with a rose at the start of our date.

I'd figured we'd go out to dinner first, but to AJ, autographs are far more exciting. So we headed to the arena early, paid for parking, and then walked around the skywalk for 45 minutes because we discovered there'd been another game earlier, and they hadn't yet opened the doors for our game. 

Once they did, we were among the first inside. AJ was like a predator. He immediately focused on the bench area, where he noticed a couple players taping sticks and doing other mundane tasks in preparation for the game. AJ was all over that! We came prepared with a sharpie marker, and AJ managed to get four players to autograph his ticket.

Next on his wish list: get a puck. I couldn't have been prouder of AJ. A player flipped a puck over the glass during warmups. AJ and the young child in the bottom left of the photo raced for it. AJ easily reached the puck first. But he turned around and handed it to the boy. That made it all the sweeter when, a few minutes later, another player hoisted a puck just for AJ.

By that point, it really didn't matter who would win once play started. This was the best game ever!

Close up of the puck: note that it's still wet. And it has scratch marks on it. That proves it's a USED puck. Which apparently is a very big deal when you're nine.

The game was a good one, and we had great seats, just five rows back. The Bulldogs won 2-1.

And then, because the night wasn't already perfect enough, it turns out it was autograph night. After the game, and after the players showered (thankfully), they all sat down behind a long line of tables, and we were able to walk along and get each of their autographs. Posters were provided, but AJ thought it would be far better to have them all sign his jersey. (Good thing he had a shirt on underneath.)

All the players were very gracious, but I must mock for a moment. They used AJ's black sharpie marker. On a dark maroon jersey. The jersey has one white and yellow stripes on the sleeves and at the bottom, along with a big gold bulldog in the center. But did any of the players think to sign on the lighter areas? No.

Squint hard. The camera flash actually makes it possible to see there are autographs there. AJ doesn't care. The thrill is in the hunt, and so it's a pretty safe bet that next game we'll go to, he'll eagerly try all over again to get as many of their autographs as possible.

It's a date!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Belle of the Ball

There's a highly popular tradition in our area, which I pretty much ignored until last year. And by "pretty much ignored", I mean I showed my typical lack of organization and so by the time I looked into buying tickets, it was sold out. 

The tradition is the annual Father/Daughter Ball. It's organized by a Duluth church and attendance has grown so dramatically that they spread it out over two weekends. Then, just to make the options a little more confusing, a Duluth restaurant started offering their own version. And with all those options, I still wasn't fast enough to buy tickets. Though apparently the moms of every other little girl in Sydney's circle of friends were. So for a year, I've been listening to Sydney ask how soon was the ball because she very much wanted to go.

This year, there was no disappointment.

I understand that Jeff and Sydney had a fantastic time on their date and already are looking forward to returning next year. But as fun as the ball was, I have to believe half the thrill came from the preparations. First of all, there was the dress selection. It was a hot debate between the sequined blue one you see, and a flowing bright green one that looks like something a figure skater would wear. (Spin doctor that I am, I settled the debate by suggesting the green one will make a nice Easter dress, and as an added bonus will also make a nice Palm Sunday dress, which means she gets to show it off for Grandpa and Grandma when we vacation in Florida next month.)

Next question: what to do with her hair. Styling hair is not one of my talents. And so we splurged and went with the princess treatment. I made an appointment at the salon where I get my hair cut.

For the first few minutes, Sydney couldn't see what was happening. Then the stylist turned the chair slightly and Sydney caught a glimpse in a mirror on the opposite wall. After that, she couldn't stop smiling. THIS was a hair-do worthy of a Disney princess.

Once home, she didn't want Daddy to see her hair until she was all ready. So we put on her dress, tights and shoes, along with lip gloss and small stickers to pretend she had ear rings. And then my little diva made her debut.

Only to discover the surprises weren't done yet. Daddy bought his date a corsage.

Along with a matching one for himself. (Note, these photos are totally staged. Neither one was particularly comfortable sticking long pins into clothes so close to vital organs, so I got to help with that part.)

After a few more photos, they were off!

They danced and dined and had their picture taken (not in that order) and then danced some more. The organizers thought of everything... including glow in the dark bracelets (big hit with the girls) and female helpers to assist the younger girls who needed to use the bathroom (big hit with the dads).

It was an absolutely wonderful night, both concluded. A night that set a standard that future boyfriends will have a tough time living up to. As I heard one dad say later, it's amazing how every dad there had the prettiest girl at the ball.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Happy fake birthday

AJ was born in 2005 on the day before the Super Bowl. Via emergency C-section. It was remarkably inconvenient timing, I recall thinking back then, because it really really hurts to laugh at Super Bowl commercials one day after getting an incision like that. 

It didn't occur to me at the time that the date would also lead to years of difficulty scheduling birthday parties around the big game. It also hadn't occurred to me there would be scheduling difficulties due to another big game.

Of course, AJ could have been born just about any time in January or February and there would have been problems due to hockey. Because there's always hockey. But we decided to work it in our favor this year, inviting my sister and brother and their families to come and watch one of AJ's games, and then have his party afterward.

If you know how much my sister doesn't like cold weather, you know how much she loves my son to stand outside for an hour and watch him play.

AJ was pretty excited to show his cousin around the new warming house and introduce him to his teammates.

After the game, which AJ's team won by a landslide, we headed home for the party. 

Here are lots of pictures from the gift opening. His cousin Jessica was also there but chose not to squeeze in on the floor with the rest of the kids. Probably because her foot hurt or something.

I'm hoping AJ was trying to be helpful - as opposed to offering a commentary on my cooking/baking skills - when he requested that we have Sammy's Pizza and Dairy Queen ice cream cake at the party.

As for the headline on this story, Sydney woke up Sunday morning and wanted to give AJ a special greeting. She knew it wasn't his birthday, but since there was going to be a party she figured she needed to say something, so she called out "Happy belated birthday, Alex!" 

I explained that you say belated if it's after his birthday, not before. So instead we wished him a happy fake birthday. It'll do, until the real big day.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Still here!

Last night, we watched my brother's kids for a few hours. While they were here, I took some pictures of the fun. And that's when AJ asked (in a genuinely confused voice) "What are you going to do with those?"

Has it really been that long since I blogged? My kids used to be so well trained. The camera came out, and they knew it would end up on the blog. 

Then, today, as if confirmation was needed, my sister commented that it'd been like a month since I'd blogged. Not quite. (I just checked) but really close.

So here are some pictures from last night. In case anyone doesn't recognize them, since it's been so long since I've written, my two are the biggest kids in the picture below. This was during the "let's calm down" phase of the eveing. Popcorn and a DVD. It worked fabulously. For about three minutes.

I have to say, the kids are at wonderfully fun ages. Zoe communicates volumes without saying a word.

While the boys just make volumes of sound. Nobody lost an eye, but it was still fun.

Of course AJ did his best to get them all interested in his favorite sport, providing mini sticks for all to join in a game of knee hockey.

The stick with the flashing light and goal siren was a hit with Zoe.

I have to admit, not only am I out of practice at writing. But also with photography. My camera battery after just a few shots. I charged it up, but not before the evening had come to an end. And now that I've uploaded the photos I did take, I see that there were some on the memory card from early January.

I better get blogging.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Things I actually said to my children today

There's nothing like juggling motherhood and a full time career on a day when the kids' school is cancelled again due to extremely cold windchills to bring out my maternal instincts. Or maybe not. Because here are three things I admit to uttering today:

"Unless someone is dying or bleeding, do not come and get me."
 (My parting words of advice as I headed into the County Board meeting. I left the kids in my office with snacks, toys and Despicable Me 2 loaded in the DVD player.)

"I don't know how to get YouTube on the Xbox. Let's Facetime Dad so we can show him the screen and maybe he can talk you through it."
(Admittedly, not that funny. But still amazing to think how many of those words had not been created even just a few years ago.)

"Quick! Stand there and look normal before it catches on fire."

(As I was preparing to take down the tree decorations, I realized I'd never taken a picture of it this year.)

I can't wait to send the kids back to school tomorrow! I'm sure an above zero temperature is all I need to become my loving, motherly self again. Or maybe not.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

No slowing of his stride

In case anyone was wondering, it'll take far more than a broken tooth to keep AJ from playing hockey.
But I wonder if I can use that as my excuse for why it's taken me nearly two weeks to post this video and photos?

The day after chipping his tooth and our emergency trip to the dentist (which I'm delightfully amazed is only going to end up costing us about $20 bucks after insurance) AJ played in a tournament in Proctor. Here's one of his many goals.

But aside from scoring, his favorite part of the tournament was the two extra fans he had in the audience. Grandpa David and Grandma Elouise, who are in Florida for most of the hockey season, traveled to our neck of the tundra to cheer him on.

The following day, AJ played in two more games. He was goalie for one of those games, which happened to be against a Mite 2 team from Hermantown. For some reason, AJ has it in his head that that's one of the 10 best teams in the state. He's not quite sure who told him that, but he's sure it's true.

During the first half of the game, Hermantown was clearly the better team. But as the game progressed, our kids (especially AJ in the net) got stronger, and their kids seemed to tire.

No one keeps score, but usually it's pretty easy to see which team is the dominant one. Not this game. As the cock ticked down, I heard one dad jokingly yell, "Next goal wins!"

Those are the best kind of games. All the kids come off the ice feeling good and victorious. Not bad for the first tournament of the year.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Gingerbread construction

I'm curious if anyone makes gingerbread houses out of gingerbread anymore. Both of my kids had gingerbread house making events this week, and in both cases, the construction material of choice was graham crackers.

It's a third grade holiday tradition at our school for the students and parents to gather in the "cafetorium" (clever naming. In my day, it was called a lunchroom, and there happened to be a stage on one side of the room) and spend time together crafting these sugar rush sensations.

Alex seemed to get as much frosting on himself as he did on his house. Luckily, his friend Lucas didn't think there was anything wrong with that. Even more lucky, Lucas brought licorice, and enough to share. Definitely a good friend to have!

Take note of the small graham cracker rectangle next to AJ's house. That's a hockey rink. Where the Wild and Red Wings were facing off. (If you enlarge the picture below, you'll be able to see the respective green and red gumdrops, which represent the players.) As AJ had been finishing up his house, the principal happened to walk by and, knowing AJ's obsession with hockey, asked him if we was going to include a rink. Great suggestion!

When all was done, what to do with the extra frosting?

And then, because that wasn't enough fun, I got to do it again last night. Same place. Mostly same building supplies.But this time with Sydney and her Girl Scout troop.

It was a very different experience. Whereas AJ was only mildly interested in the project, but pretty meticulous with what little he did; Sydney was absolutely enthralled, gobbing on the frosting and sticking random pieces of candy and fruit loops anywhere she could.

Less is more is not a concept she understands. And that's perfectly okay. As we drove home she announced it had been even more fun than she'd thought it would be.

It was a lot of fun. So much so, that now I really want to make one of my own. I have plenty of leftover candy. I just might have to pick up some more graham crackers and frosting during this weekend's grocery shopping event. If my family can have annual competitions for best jack-o-lantern, I think it would be just as fun to start a competition for gingerbread houses.