Sunday, January 31, 2010

A bouncing good time

We made it to Silver Bay for AJ's hockey tournament. To say the kids were a bit hyper by the time we reached our hotel room would be an understatement. Daddy told them to settle down while he went back out to the car to get the last of our bags.

Sure thing Daddy. We'll hop right to it.

After a day of anticipation, more than an hour in the car and the discovery of a king size bed in our hotel room, there was just no way these kids were going to be calm. Especially when Mommy sensed the photo opportunity of children who seemed to float in mid-air.

Let's hear it for mid-winter vacations!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Phone insurance

Every so often one of the kids says something that stops me in my tracks and then sends me hustling.

For instance, Sydney was at the table eating cereal this morning. As she ate, I cleaned the kitchen. And that's when I heard:

"Mommy, I clean the milk off your phone."

"No, she couldn't possibly mean that seriously," my thoughts raced. I hadn't realized my new iPhone was anywhere close to where she was sitting. But there it was in her grubby little hands. "Maybe she just means she's playing with the fun Hershey's Syrup app that lets her mix imaginary chocolate milk," my hopeful train of thought continued.

By now I'd reached her and discovered the messy truth. Yes, she had managed to grab my phone. Yes, she had managed to spill milk on it. And yes, she was now smearing the milk all across the screen.

Thank goodness I let Jeff talk me into spending the money to buy the more expensive, supposedly indestructible case. I sighed with relief, just in time to hear Sydney explain, "It was ax-dent."

Thankfully, it wasn't an expensive ax-dent.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Escape from the cold

Driving AJ to preschool this morning, with the temperature in the negative double digits, I couldn't control my outburst, "I can't wait to go to Florida!"

From the backseat, AJ asked, "Can we go now?"

"No," I answered, "we still have another month to wait. But we are going to Silver Bay this weekend." I reminded him of his upcoming hockey tournament.

"Is Silver Bay in Florida?" he asked hopefully.

"No, Silver Bay is in Minnesota."

"Where's Minnesota?"

"That's where we are right now. It'll probably be just as cold, or maybe even colder than it is here."

Not even five years old, AJ has already mastered "the look." It's an expression that seems to ask a question, but doesn't really, because he knows there isn't really an answer, or at least not an answer he will like. I imagine in this case, the question is one I've wondered countless times myself, "why is it that we live in this seemingly god-forsaken tundra?" Or maybe he's just questioning my sanity.

We console ourselves that we put up with the frigid cold, the snow and ice because at least we don't have earthquakes and hurricanes. And that's probably a good thing. I've been late to work the last three mornings due in part to traffic jams caused by accidents on the freeway. As hardy as we like to pretend we are up here in the Northland, there are still enough idiots among us to make the going tough – even in conditions we've been through so many times before. What would we do if dealt an unfamiliar disaster?

Back to my conversation with AJ, I reminded him that at least this tournament was going to take place inside an arena; he wouldn't be playing on an outside rink.

"YEAH!" was his very enthusiastic reply. It's always nice to find a bright spot.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Phone a friend

Is this how it starts? AJ came to me the other night as I was changing Sydney into her pajamas. He was carrying Jeff's old cell phone, which is now his toy since it's been de-activated.

"Mom, do you know Hanna's phone number?"

"Yes," I answered.

"What is it?" he asked, ready to start punching numbers.

"I'd have to look it up on my phone," I explained, "but it's too late to call her house tonight anyway." (It was after 8 p.m.)

AJ pouted for at least the next five minutes. "But I want to talk to my friend!"

At least he didn't call her his girlfriend.

Monday, January 25, 2010

She said WHAT?

I often call her my little princess. Perhaps a better title would be mafia princess.

In the midst of a Nerf gun battle Saturday night, Sydney ran up to Jeff, held out her gun and ordered, "Dance little girl!"

Let's just pause for a moment of stunned silence. Let it sink in.

Dance little girl? Who taught her that?

I can say with almost 100 percent certainty that she's never heard it from me. And while Jeff and I are guilty of bad Clint Eastwood impersonations during these Nerf battles (Ask yourself, do you feel lucky?), I don't recall ever hearing him say something like that either. And it's not the kind of line she'd pick up from Dora or Diego. So is her big brother teaching her these things?

Godfather/Scarface lines aside, Sydney showed her toddler side a few minutes later when Daddy jumped out and surprised her. Ahhh... the delighted giggles of a startled child. I just happened to be snapping the picture when Jeff yelled gotcha.

She's definitely not all tough guy. "Princess" still belongs in her title. On Sunday, she put a brief halt to her battle with AJ and went running into her room, emerging a few minutes later wearing her black dress shoes, which she'd attempted to put on herself.

But of course. You don't show up for battle without the appropriate footwear.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Snow ball

This photo says so much about AJ's hockey game on Sunday. Note how hard it is snowing. Note how much snow has accumulated on the ice. And that's in just one hour. All we need, for the photo to be complete, would have been a tennis ball out in front. Because of all the snow, the pucks didn't even move, so the kids chased a tennis ball instead.

From a spectator's standpoint, the weather was actually pretty nice. The temperature hovered in the low 30s and there was no wind, so it wasn't bad standing outside. And the wet snow was great fun to play in, which kept Sydney busy, which allowed me to actually be a spectator.
The sunglasses, by the way, were her idea. When he saw her, Jeff said, "Come here, Sydney. I want a birthday picture with the starlet."

AJ was determined to win this game as a birthday present for his Dad.

I told him that was a good idea, but warned him it was probably the result of a different game that would make or break how this birthday turned out. And sadly, we're all painfully aware of what happened in that game.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mite-y busy

Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail... shall keep the Mite 1 Hockey Tournament from taking place. And yes, in the space of one game, it felt like we experienced all of those forms of precipitation. Okay, officially it didn't hail, but Jeff got nailed in the nose by a pretty good chunk of freezing rain, so we came close.

The big highlight for AJ? He scored his first goal* during the tournament.

*I included an asterisk because had anyone been keeping score, it wouldn't have counted. One of his teammates scored a goal, and before the ref could skate over and grab the puck, AJ shot it in again.

Sydney is being a fairly patient fan. It helps that she has a crush on one of AJ's teammates who goes to Kids Korner with her. She may not have the attention span to stand outside and cheer for her brother, but she'll stay a few minutes longer to cheer for Jace. By the second game, I let her stay inside the warming house, just as long as she stayed where I could see her through the window.

Apparently I needed to specify that I didn't want to see her licking the window.

That's Jace in the above photo, coming up behind AJ. By the time the game wrapped up, AJ's sweat pants were dripping wet.
They have one more game tomorrow before the tournament wraps up. It should be interesting to see how/if the rink survives all this precipitation.

Friday, January 22, 2010


I suppose it was just a matter of time until Sydney's vocabulary advanced to this point. Her brother's been amusing and charming us with his cute phrases for a couple years. And now Sydney has started too.

On Sunday, while trying to herd the kids into the car to go to church, Sydney, of course has to stomp through the puddle in the garage, splattering her shoes and pants.

"Sydney," I said, "Don't mess up your nice shoes and clothes."

"Oh Mommy," she answered, "It's just water."

I explained that it was muddy water and was messy. Clearly part of my message sunk in, but not enough of it.

Tuesday night, making our way through the garage after AJ's hockey practice, I spotted Sydney veering over specifically to stump through the puddle again.

"Sydney!" I exclaimed.

"Borrowing a line from one of her Diego movies, she grinned and explained, "It's a muddy mud pit."

Maybe she's not such a girlie-girl after all.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I don't know who gets more excited by the thought of these playdates: the kids or the moms. But after a really long day of dealing with stupid people, knowing I'd soon be seeing my mom friends was just what I needed to restore my sanity.

The get-together at a McDonald's Playland seems to have had the opposite on the kids:

(We told the kids they could do a goofy face.) The next one was supposed to be a nice smile, but of course my son seems to have ignored that instruction. Why am I not surprised?

This group of friends has been getting together now for almost three years. It thrills me that the kids play together better now than ever, which means we moms get more time for grown up talk. Due to hectic holiday schedules, this was the first time we'd gotten together in several months, making it all the more fun.

Ironically, one of the kids' favorite parts of the night wasn't playing on the big slide. It was my tiny new phone and all the games I've loaded on it. At one point, a large group of older, rowdier kids pretty much commandeered the Playland area, so it was nice to be able to pull out the phone as a distraction to keep our kids from being trampled.

I love this photo:

My friend Jess had to take it with her camera, because mine, as you see, was rather occupied.

Playdates with friends are such a blessing. No matter your age.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Who needs a vacation

Driving AJ to preschool this morning, I noticed he seemed a bit down, which is typical because he's not overly fond of going to Cool Kids.

To cheer him up, I decided to let him in on a little secret.

"Hey AJ, did you know that Daddy is working on plans for us to go on vacation?"

That got his attention.

"Guess where," I said.

He grinned hopefully.

"Florida," I announced, expecting cheers to erupt from the backseat.

Instead, my not-quite-five-year-old responded with a disappointed, "But I want to go to Hawaii."

"Hawaii?" I questioned, "What do you know about Hawaii?"

"It has beaches. I want to go to the beach."

"Well, Florida has beaches too," I told him. That caught his attention. "And guess what else is in Florida?"


"Disney World and Grandpa David and Grandma Elouise!"

If he weren't strapped in, he would have hit his head on the ceiling. "I want to go to Florida!"He was bouncing up and down (as much as his seat belt permitted) and clapping his hands. "I want to go to Disney World!" Several of his friends have gone to Disney World and clearly filled his head with exciting tales of all that is there.

Sorry Mom and Dad. I'm sure he'll be thrilled to see you. But in the eyes of this wannabe knight, there's no way you can compete with his visions of the Magic Kingdom.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The big girl toy

I've been wanting one for months, asking for one for our anniversary last fall and for Christmas, and at last I got one. An iPhone.

Or as someone else calls it, "MyPhone."

And she doesn't readily let go.

Having been exposed to the iPhones of various babysitters and teachers at her daycare, my kids know all about the fun games and features available on this little device. I've already added a few child-friendly "apps", including one that features Diego and teaches colors. Too bad there isn't an app that can teach Miss Sydney the lesson she seems to need most right now: how to share.

Instead, Sydney is having to accept that sometimes the iPhone needs to go away for awhile until she can remember to take turns with her brother. We'll just call that the Mommy app.

Admittedly, there are benefits to letting her play with it. She's figured out faster than I have how to make the phone do certain things, such as shuffling the order of the icons on the main screen. Ummm, honey? Can you show Mommy how you did that?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Future plans

AJ, like most children his age (I assume), loves to imagine what he's going to be when he grows up. Of course he's going to follow in Daddy's footprints and be a brave policeman and Army soldier, but somehow he's going to find time to be a fireman, "Bob the builder" and multi-sport professional athlete. Oh, and don't forget the many restaurants he has planned.

AJ often talks about the various restaurants he will someday own. I suspect Sponge Bob's employment as a cook at the Krusty Krab has something to do with AJ's interest in a career in this industry. "Mixers" is the name he came up with awhile ago for his first restaurant. Other restaurants have come and gone, but Mixers, with its menu of crab legs, pizza and cheeseburgers seems to have staying power.

Until last Friday, that is.

We were driving, running errands, when from the back seat AJ announced, "When I get big, I'm going to have lots of works."

"You mean you'll have a lot of jobs?" I corrected.

"First, I'm going to have a fancy restaurant," he told me.

"What makes it fancy?" I asked.

"People can dance and have hot cocoa with marshmallows," AJ explained. "But if they don't want marshmallows, they don't have to. It's going to be called Vikings Stadium."

"Vikings Stadium," I repeated the name and then questioned, "what happened to Mixers?"

"Oh, that kind of broke apart," AJ told me. "My workers wanted to go somewhere else."

Wouldn't it be ironic if someday AJ took a job in human resources?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Southern exposure

The snowbirds have landed, and their flock of followers seems to be growing.

AJ and Sydney received an e-mail this weekend from Grandma Elouise and Grandpa David. The message included photos of my sister's family, who managed to time their Florida vacation to coincide with a horrible cold snap. Jonathon and Jessica didn't let the 60 degree temperatures deter them from swimming in the ocean. And it made for a funny contrast in clothing: while they were in swimsuits, everyone else wore coats.

I showed the pictures to AJ, who first wanted to know if there were sharks in the ocean. Next, while looking at the picture above of Grandma and Grandpa, he asked, "where's the water?"
"What do you mean, 'where's the water?'" I asked. "It's right behind them."
I'm not sure if he was confused by the white sand (thinking it was snow), or if he associates all large bodies of water with Lake Superior, because he answered with a question of his own, "why isn't it ice?"
Because life's not fair.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Boys versus girls

Ahhh... behold the power of that second X chromosome. Aside from the obvious anatomical differences, my darling little girlie girl provided the perfect example last night. A frilly, lacy, twirling example.

Mommy and Sydney were playing downstairs, "dancing" to some Dora tunes. About the time I was asking myself, "Is there anything cuter than watching a toddler attempt the Hokey-Pokey?", Sydney proved yes, there definitely is. A toddler in a frilly dress attempting to do the Hokey-Pokey:

We'd danced and clapped our way through two or three songs, when suddenly Sydney stopped, turned and headed for the stairs. As she ran, she informed me she needed to wear her Tinkerbell dress.

But, of course! Who wants to dance in blue jeans, when they could be wearing tulle and shiny fabric with sequins? So off we headed to make the costume change.

That lasted a few more songs, until Sydney decided she need to show off for Daddy. That required us to dig out Tinkerbell's wings as well. (Don't tell her the pink wings are from a different costume. I can't find the original green ones.)

Of course I remember the fun of twirling around in a skirt, watching it flare out. I just didn't expect to see it this soon, from a child who typically just wants to try and keep up with her brother.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Toddler reality check

Sorry Syd, but you seem to have developed a rather misguided view of how things work around here.

This morning... okay, it was actually pretty close to being this afternoon... I finally got in the shower. With hot water pouring over me, I did my best to block out the rest of the world for a few brief moments.

But of course, with little kids around that's just not possible. Within a minute or so, I could hear the tell-tale sound of the bathroom door sliding open and Sydney chattering away.

The noise of the shower made it impossible to understand what exactly she was saying. I could vaguely make out "Mommy... Princess and the Frog."

I assumed that meant she'd either seen a commercial for the movie, or she was announcing she'd found one of her Princess and the Frog musical instruments.

Over the sound of the shower, I tried to explain that I couldn't hear her, and to wait, that Mommy would be done in a couple minutes. She left after that, shutting the door behind her, allowing me to finish my shower in peace.

Alas, the peace didn't last long. I still had a towel wrapped around myself when Sydney slid the door open again. Peering in with a look of impatience she demanded, "Mom, I told you to get Princess and the Frog!"

Yeah. That's not going to fly.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Patient pup

As I'm waiting for the photos to upload for this blog post, I can't help but think, "God bless Maggie."

She has been forced to transition from being our baby, to being our dog. What's more, she's put up with years of being the object of affection of those well meaning (but sometimes down right annoying) kids who took her place at the top of our priority list.

Make no mistake, Sydney is very generous to her "Maggie dog" when it comes to doling out treats and dropping scraps from her high chair tray. But in exchange, Sydney sometimes expects Maggie to act like her doll. As I was taking this picture, I couldn't help but draw comparisons to another incident I'd photographed a few years ago, which I was reminded of recently by another of the old e-mails Jeff found.

Dated May 20, 2007, the subject line was "I AJ Doctor." I'd sent it to Jeff while he was away for three weeks at Fort McCoy, and it included the following:

If there is a place in Heaven for dogs, Maggie most certainly earned herself a spot there tonight.

While I was busy working in the kitchen, making supper, baking cookies, cleaning up, etc., AJ decided to raid the utensil drawer.

The next thing I knew, he declared himself, "I, AJ, doctor." A few seconds later, he announced, "I Maggie's doctor." He then proceeded to use the various utensils to "examine" Maggie. (Don't worry, I think I got them all and washed them.)

Every few minutes, he would pause long enough to pet Maggie and ask, "Okay Maggie? All better?" Amazingly, Maggie just laid there for him, exhibiting the patience of a saint. It wasn't until I grabbed the camera that she tried to get away from him. (We rewarded her later with leftover popcorn from last night.)

What a good girl!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pretty princesses

Considering our friendship started way back when on the theatre stage, and our big dream was to become world famous actresses and earn enough money to build a better theatre, which of course would be named in our honor, at the high school where our talents were launched...

Should Geralyn and I really be surprised that our off-spring already seem to exhibit a certain flair for the dramatic?

Saturday night turned into an impromptu play date/party at our house when Geralyn and Paul stopped by to return my crock pots (used the previous night for Paul's surprise birthday party.) And once again I was left wishing we didn't live two and a half hours apart. Sydney and Lily have so much fun together. As the boys (the big guys as well as Joe and AJ) battled it out with Nerf guns, Sydney and Lily alternated between trying to keep up with their brothers, and being the ultimate girlie-girls.

Sydney's play kitchen was humming, churning out pizza and cookies and all sorts of other pretend treats. Until Lily spotted the princess costumes. Suddenly the girls simply had to be transformed into Tinkerbell and Sleeping Beauty. And off they flounced to show the boys.

Geralyn and I have always enjoyed what I consider a low-maintenance friendship. We can go months without talking, but once we do, it's like no time has passed at all. Considering it's been six months since the last time the kids got together, I'm thrilled to see how quickly they warm to each other as well.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A few more AJ-isms

It's been a while since I listed some of the short and sweet comments from AJ. Here are some recents ones.

*After his recent hockey tournament, at the conclusion of which each player received a goodie bag and small medalion:
Jeff: "AJ, do you want to wear your medal or should I put it in your room?"
AJ: "Just add it to my medal collection."

*Out of the blue from the backseat:
"Mom, do you know what happens if you get bonked in the head with a rock?"
"Hmmm, what?"
"You get mum-um-esia"

*After listening a little too closely to some commercials:
"Hey Mom, tomorrow at nine, eight central, there's going to be a new superhero show on TV."

Monday, January 11, 2010

Loaded with fun

This probably doesn't rank particularly high on Dr. Spock's list of suggestions for quality family bonding time, but we're sure having fun.
It started with Uncle Eric and Aunt Sarah's Christmas present of two Nerf Dart guns for AJ. We had so much fun running around with them that we decided we needed two more. And then, knowing we were having a bunch of people over for New Year's, I made the mistake of sending Jeff to the store to buy extra darts.

We are now up to seven Nerf dart guns, and they are a blast (pun intended). The only rules are no shooting at someone's face, and no shooting if any candles are lit.

As an added bonus, a side game has also evolved from this newest family activity. It's called "find the missing darts." They seem to be showing up in the most unusual spots. Certain alliances also seem to be forming as the kids decide to which parent to give the darts they find. So far, for the most part, I think I've got 'em on my side.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Skating fun

Oh what a difference the right size skates can make. Suddenly skating is so fun that AJ turns conveniently deaf when the whistle blows signaling a line change.

AJ played in his first hockey tournament this weekend: one game Friday night, and two on Saturday. Twice we had to yell for him to go back to the bench. With his feet feeling good, all AJ wanted to do was keep on skating.

He made remarkable strides, literally, in his skating ability this weekend. The more natural glide, I'm sure, can also be attributed to the better fitting skates. Though don't get me wrong, he's far from all-star status. His biggest contribution seems to be tripping in front of the opposing team, triggering a domino effect with their players.

For Jeff, this tournament was a bit of a trip down memory lane. It was hosted by his hockey alma mater, if you will, the Gary/Morgan Park Youth Hockey Association. He knew more parents on the opposing team than on our own.

As for me, this tournament was a cold dose of reality of what life as a hockey mom is like. A very, very cold dose. We had to delay our previously scheduled Friday night plans (surprise birthday party for my friend Geralyn's husband) for AJ's first game. And, because Jeff had Guards this weekend, I was on my own for all of the first game, and most of the second game. Jeff was able to make it by the end. Of course the temperatures were frigidly cold, the games were outdoors and I had Sydney to keep an eye on, too. And now as I sign off, it's to head out the door, with both kids because Jeff is still at Guards, to put in a mandatory 4-hour shift at our rink's concession stand. What part of this is supposed to be fun? That's right, it's the warm and fuzzy feeling of watching my pride and joy learn to skate.

At least I remembered his hockey stick.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

He hasn't always been able to talk?

Somehow I forgot that AJ hasn't always been the conversationalist that he is today. In fact, not so long ago, his verbal skills were pretty limited.

I was reminded of this by an e-mail Jeff just forwarded to me. It was an e-mail I'd originally sent to him back in May 2007 while he was attending an Army class at Fort McCoy. AJ and I had been able to visit him for a short time, and so I sent him photos later to remind him of the fun we'd had in the pool. It included a short message from AJ.

Subject: I swimming!

Daddy back Army?
Daddy fun swimming. I go pool too!
I love you Daddy!

I feel sorry for parents 100 years ago when cameras were a luxury. How many special moments would be forgotten if it weren't for the pictures that help keep the memories fresh?

Friday, January 8, 2010


I'm sure we all know the cliche about what happens when we assume. But what happens when a young child assumes? It makes for a funny greeting.

Typically, Jeff is the one who picks the kids up from daycare. One day earlier this week, it worked out for me to get Sydney at the end of the day.

As I walked into the toddler room, Sydney didn't see me. She and the other kids were too engrossed in a coloring project. The teacher announced, "Sydney, guess who's here."

Sydney excitedly started to respond even before she looked up, obviously assuming I was someone else, and then changed mid-word.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

The fort

Poor AJ. He's grown to the ripe old age of almost five before Mommy remembered just how fun it is to build a hideout in the living room.

Last week, I was visiting the home office of a videographer I work with on various projects. The guy happens to have a son who's just a few months younger than AJ. Tanner was home that day and excitedly grabbed my hand and pulled me into their living room to show me his engineering marvel: blankets and sheets draped from the couch to chairs to the coffee table. In his mind, I do believe, it was a multi-room mansion with connecting tunnels. He'd stocked it quite well with all of his favorite toys.

That got me thinking. And draping.

Our fort started small: two blankets stretched from the couch to a dining room chair. It was the perfect hideaway for AJ and Sydney who felt quite daring venturing out, grabbing a favorite toy, and then dashing back in. Alas, Mommy's building technique did not stand up well to this constant pulling and lifting of the blankets, and soon we were dealing with wall and ceiling collapses.

So of course our solution was to make it bigger and better. Three dining room chairs and a queen size bed sheet did the trick. This was no longer just a fort. It became a movie theater! Welcome to the premiere of Fraggle Rock, a DVD we picked up a few weeks ago but had yet to watch.

How did I forget this simple joy of childhood? Thanks Tanner for reminding me!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fiasco on ice

Well, we at least made it through one full period of AJ's first hockey game. It was painful. Literally. The temperature when the puck dropped was a whopping goose egg. Zip. Zero. Nada.

To try and make the chilling temperature a little more bearable for AJ, I picked up some foot warmers that could fit in his skates. Little did I know, I was making the real problem worse.

How can a child with the impressive verbal skills that AJ has, not be able to say, "Hey, these skates are way too small."? He's told us numerous times that his feet hurt, but he's always said it was because they were cold.

AJ toughed it out through the first period and a half. Then, just about the time his line was set to take the ice again, I noticed as the gate opened, that Jeff was coming through with AJ. And AJ was sobbing. Uncontrollably.

We brought him into the warming house where he continued crying longer and harder than I have ever seen him do before. And he continued to say it was because his feet were cold. Jeff pulled off the skates and we each peeled off a sock. One toe felt slightly cool, but other than that, his feet felt warm. The warmer inserts had done what they're supposed to do. Of course, they'd also created even more cramped conditions inside those too small skates.

It was then that I picked up the skates. The skates Jeff had bought for AJ last year. The skates Jeff had assured me at the start of the season still fit AJ just fine. And that's when I noticed the size 9 printed on the inside. That's three sizes smaller than what he currently wears.

"AJ, do your toes get crunched up inside your skates," I asked, "Is that why they hurt?"

Aha! Breakthrough at last!

We didn't make him finish the game. It was well into the third period by that point, anyway. Though he did want to put his boots on and go back outside, "I want to cheer for my team," he insisted. "I want to help them win."

As we headed out the door, several parents gave us sympathetic smiles as one commented, "Welcome to first year hockey."