Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The big fix

Can you sense how calm it was at my house last night? Not once did AJ yell, "NO, GUS!" Nor did I hear Sydney whine, "Mo-om, Gus has some something in his mouth that he's not supposed to." (The kids found plenty of other things to yell and whine about, but nothing to do with the dog.)

A remarkable behavior breakthrough for our almost nine-month-old pup? Hardly.

Gus caused us no problems because he wasn't home. He was at our veterinarian's office, kept overnight for observation following surgery earlier in the afternoon. Gus is now an it.

Getting him neutered was something we had to do as part of the contract we signed when we bought him. But besides that, I am thrilled by the possibility that the procedure may help calm him down some.

And then AJ ruined my euphoria with a simple question.

"What does 'neuter' mean?"

Uhhhmmm... how do you explain that to a first grader? Why did I think it would be a good idea to give the kids advance warning that Gus would be gone for a night? Why did I start this conversation when Jeff wasn't home to help me?

"Well..." I chose my words carefully. "We want to make sure Gus doesn't make a girl dog have puppies. You know how a baby needs a mom and dad? Puppies do too."

I spoke in as vague of terms as I could think of, and then quickly shifted the topic just enough to distract him. "It's important that we do that because there are already so many dogs in the world that some don't have owners. And do you know what happens to dogs that don't have owners? Sometimes they have to be killed because they don't have anyone to take care of them."

AJ was incensed. He had all sorts of suggestions of who should be responsible for feeding dogs that have no owner, and then proclaimed, "When I'm president, I'll pass a law that says the pound can't kill any dogs or cats."

Does this kid have a future in politics, or what?

So the big day arrived, and with it the instruction that Gus wasn't supposed to eat after midnight the night before. It was easy enough to keep his food dish out of reach. It's all the other things he tends to put in his mouth that we hoped wouldn't reach his stomach.


Gus's surgery was at 1 p.m. I was allowed to stop in and see him after work. The vet assured me that all went well. Poor Gus was still really drugged up. Or maybe he found it extremely irritating that four hours after having his private parts snipped, I was trying to take his picture.


I'm blaming it on the morphine. Poor guy it.


The kids whined a little about missing Gus. AJ thought it was unfair I got to see Gus when he couldn't. Sydney, meanwhile, quickly recognized the opportunity to play with the toys we've warned her to keep packed away from Gus.


Now for the eerie part. Jeff will be going to the vet to pick up Gus this afternoon... exactly one year to the day after bringing Maggie in for the check-up where we learned the horrible news she had cancer. I'm trying to figure out if there's some symbolism in that. Thankfully, today should be a far happier occasion for us all, and any pain medications for Gus should be a short term fix, rather than a life-extending savior.

This next week ought to be interesting. Gus is supposed to continue wearing the cone to prevent him from licking his stitches. I wonder if it will make it harder for him to chew on Barbie dolls.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Celebrating on skates

Sunday was day two of the Mite 1 jamboree. And it was cold. Single digit temperatures. At least the sun was out and AJ and his team were scoring like crazy. So all was good. Just really, really cold.

Now in my third year as a hockey mom, I realize I've become a reverse snob. I used to see the really fashionable moms in their form fitting coats and stylish boots, and feel bad that I would never look as pulled together as they do. Now, as I stand in my bulky snow pants and mukluks with my neck warmer pulled up to cover my mouth, I simply shake my head at their ignorance, knowing they won't last long in the cold.

As I mentioned yesterday, I was hoping to get a picture of AJ celebrating after a goal. He gave me plenty of chances.


I could have gotten a lot more shots, but I was standing next to Jeff, who is in the habit of clapping and cheering when AJ scores. So when the camera finally snapped the photo, instead of capturing AJ's moment of glory, I got this...


Jeff and I switched spots, and AJ continued to score. Here's the "stick in the air" celebration:


And the "stick in the air plus fist pump":


Game two was more of the same.


Here's the video version. It was so nice of AJ to score within a couple of seconds of me turning on the camera. Watch closely – he's #12.

video

At the end of each shift, as he waits to step into his team's bench/box, I can hear AJ's voice ring out, making sure the coach is aware of how many goals he scored. And at game's end, he can always be heard shouting, "Yeah! We won!" Officially, no one is keeping score, but Mr. Intensity and the rest of his team are constantly watching and tallying.


I wonder if AJ realizes what a special season he is having. He is part of a team... and part of a line... that has dominated every game they have played. Carter, Daniel, Wyatt and AJ. I credit the coaches for keeping these boys together. When they're on the ice at the same time, they pay attention to each other and pass really well. Which means they're scoring and having fun. It also means the newer skaters get a chance to really play on the alternate line, rather than simply be out on the ice while older kids skate past them.

I can't help but wonder if (and hope) I'll be watching them play together for the next 10 years. It almost makes it worthwhile to spend an hour standing outside in the cold.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The hazards of being a rink rat

We all know hockey can be a dangerous sport. But who knew being a spectator could carry such risk?


Though, technically, Sydney wasn't a spectator, because she wasn't even watching her brother's game. She was playing around... in boots... on the adjoining small rink - the one she usually uses for her skating lessons.


I'd been watching AJ's game and figured I should go check on her. As I started walking toward the rink, I was met by Sydney and the older brother of one of AJ's teammates (they often play together to kill time during practice.) Caden pointed out, "There's your mom."

And that's when I noticed the tears. And the major goose egg on her forehead, and the road rash (or ice rash?) on her cheek.

"I... fell... down..." was all she could say through the tears.

I picked her up and did my best to maneuver through the crowd of players, parents and hockey bags inside the shack and made my way to the concession stand... which had no ice. So we did the next best thing and grabbed a plastic food service glove and squeezed our way back outside to fill it with snow.

She, of course, milked it for all it's worth. "Can we snuggle, Mommy? 'Cause I have an owie on my forehead."

This morning she's doing just fine. And boy does she look tough! I'm also hopeful that she will never again argue when I suggest she wear a helmet.

Enough about Sydney's learning experience. This weekend is all about hockey. It's the Esko Mite 1 Jamboree.


Amazingly, the weather - while windy - wasn't horrible. Keep in mind, I have very low expectations based on previous years. The first one was played in the midst of a blizzard. The kids had to play the final game with a tennis ball because there was so much snow on the rink. And last year, the temperature was below zero for some of the games.

So yeah, compared to that, a bit of wind and light snow with temperatures in the teens isn't so bad.


The light snow did make for a funny scene during period brakes. To clear the rink, the dads lined up with shovels and brooms. Wasn't there a 70s cartoon that ended with a guy with a push broom and a twitchy moustache, sweeping the scene off the screen? That's what Jeff reminded me of.


The kids played great. The picture below is actually a shot of AJ scoring. I finally got one!


Today's photo goal will be to capture his celebratory pose immediately after scoring. It's not enough to hoist his stick in the air. No, after watching the Wild and Bulldogs players score, he now has to lift one of his legs up, too.

Another goal... an injury-free day. Two more games to go... let's do it!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Life as I know it

By the time they're old enough to appreciate it, they likely won't remember it. That's the simultaneous joy and curse of motherhood. We run ourselves ragged for our kids, and they don't even realize it. Take Thursday for example...

The text message came a little after 1:30. "I added a learn to skate class tonight from 530-630! Hope Sydney can make it"

Four hours notice. Everyone else in the class had been notified on Tuesday, but since we'd skipped class that night to go out for Jeff's birthday, we'd missed the announcement.

Jeff had to work, and so I left work an hour early, stopping at a McDonald's drive-thru on my way home. I'd carefully calculated in my head how much time it would take to get the kids, get home, get them dressed, and drive to the rink. What I forgot to factor in is how very, very bad I am at calculating how long it will take to do something in.

I picked up the kids from the after school program and handed them their Happy Meals to start eating. It was 5:10 p.m. Right on time! As I drove, I barked instructions: "When we get home, Sydney, you're going to take off your coat and go to the bathroom. AJ, get some long johns on. You can skate while Sydney's at her lesson."

We made it home, pulling into the garage at 5:15 p.m. Still on time. I reminded Sydney to go to the bathroom as I juggled to get their backpacks, my purse and travel mug out of the car. "AJ, don't leave your gloves in the car. Sydney, take your Happy Meal. Don't forget to go to the bathroom."

Sydney loves to race to the door to the house so she can get there first. Once there, she plants herself in front of the door, which she is unable to open while wearing mittens. Of course it's nearly impossible to reach around her while carrying two backpacks, a purse and a travel mug.

"Sydney, get out of the way," AJ complained, not realizing that he was an obstacle, too.

I juggled what I was carrying enough to get in the house. "AJ, finish eating while I get your sister dressed."

Sydney piped up, "I'm full."

"There's no way you could have eaten enough yet," I said. "But let's get you dressed."

Gus, by now, was whining in his kennel. There was no way I was adding to the chaos by letting him out.

"Sydney, bathroom!" I reminded for the third or fourth time. "AJ, why aren't you eating?"

"Oh yeah," he answered. "I forgot."

Somewhere in the midst of dropping backpacks and bags on the counter, I realized Sydney had gotten really quiet.

"What's wrong Syd?" I asked, crouching down to her eye level. It occured to me I was rushing her pretty hard.

The floodgates opened. Yes, she was upset. Big tears and bigger sobs, "I... miss... my... Daddy!"

"You miss Dad?" I asked, dumbstruck.

Sniffle. Sniffle. Oh yeah, she was in full Oscar-worthy drama mode.

"I... miss... Daddy!"

"You just saw him this morning, and he'll call you at bedtime. Take a deep breath. We need to get ready."

5:25 p.m. Sydney was not yet dressed. AJ was not yet dressed. I had not yet changed from my work clothes.

More whines from Gus in the kennel.

More whining from the girl on my knee.

"Okay, enough. Let's get going," I tried to sound more cheerful. We're gonna be late."

"Mom," AJ pointed at me with a grin on his face. He'd caught me saying what I've been telling him not to say. "You said 'gonna'!"

"Not the time, AJ!"

And so it continued. By the time we reached the rink and got the kids in skates, we were 15 minutes late. Oh well.

But I've come to appreciate the calm of standing outside on the side of the rink as the wind hits you in the face and chills you to the core. Strangely enough, it's somehow soothing.

Oh, who am I kidding? It's just really, really cold.

But it does clear your mind of all the day's stresses. Or maybe it just numbs you.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The plus side of harder homework

This might be a trick – a variation of the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" technique. AJ's been jealous for months that his sister's "homework" is easier and more fun than his spelling assignments. And so he seems to have switched tactics, enticing his sister with the philosophy "if you can't beat 'em, get 'em to join you."

"Can I play, too, Alex?" Sydney asked when she saw the Scrabble game come out.


AJ played hard to get for a little bit, but when it became clear I wasn't going to come over and do his homework for him, he welcomed his little sister's involvement. They were by no means playing Scrabble. AJ's assignment was to spell out each of the words on his list. If he could build off an existing word, great, but certainly not necessary.

Sydney came in handy in this version of the game. Either AJ or I would call out what letter was needed next, and Sydney would help search through the tiles on the table to find what was needed.

Sydney's awe of her brother's spelling ability seems to have fed his ego just enough to put him in a cooperative mood. At bedtime that night, I told AJ to pick a book to read. He still reads out loud to himself, so Sydney quickly sensed an opportunity to be read to.


AJ's book of choice featured plenty of pictures. Combine that with the fact that neither child was in a rush to go to bed, and suddenly you've got an extremely patient audience of one, snuggling up to her big brother as he read about Lego policemen.

I could try to point out to AJ that it's because of all his hard homework that he now is able to read so well, but I doubt he would care for that logic. And so instead I smile brightly when he complains about homework and warn, "Just you wait."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Daddy's birthday dance party

Maybe once you have as many birthdays as Jeff has had, you don't mind turning the event into a celebration for everyone around you. For instance, during dinner at Texas Roadhouse, when the server brought out the special occasion saddle (you get to sit on it while everyone else in the restaurant yells "Yee-haw!") Jeff was more than willing to let the kids take his place and climb onto the seat of honor.


I suspect Jeff wouldn't have minded if his birthday had gone completely un-noticed at the restaurant. But Sydney had other ideas. The waitress approached our table and barely had enough time to introduce herself before Sydney blurted out, "It's my Daddy's birthday!"

Sydney now wants to be a Texas Roadhouse waitress when she grows up. They get to dance! Our server had to have known she was guaranteeing herself a nice tip when she invited Sydney to join her for a line dance.


I'm sure if they'd been doing tap or ballet, Sydney would have done much better.

video

Sydney's "dance party" continued at home when she at last got to give Daddy the musical birthday card she'd picked out all by herself. Turn up the volume for this one. It's one of Jeff's favorite songs. Sydney has no doubt heard it so many times on his iPod that she instantly recognized it when she opened the card.

video

Sydney opened the card so many times that Jeff is now sick of the song. Hooray! He finally told Sydney to move the dance party to her room. Sydney gave him the most horrified look. "But I can't do a dance party alone."

AJ, meanwhile, had been anxiously awaiting the gift opening. He knew Dad was getting an Xbox hockey game, and AJ couldn't wait to play it with him. Sadly, Mom didn't realize we needed an extra controller to play the game, and so the debut of NHL hockey in our living room will have to wait a day.


Even Gus got something out of the deal... the leftover T-bone from Jeff's steak.


Of course, in AJ's mind, the best part of Dad's birthday is that once it's done, we're one day closer to his own birthday. Not that he's counting, but, oh wait... he's totally counting. Only twelve more days to go.



Monday, January 23, 2012

Maybe I'm just bad at picking pets

Somehow Spike must have caught wind that I was criticizing the dog in Saturday's blog post. (An impressive feat considering I'm pretty sure the cat is close to deaf and, well, as mentioned, she's a cat... which means I'm really sure she can't read. At some point in her nine lives, she's learned to overcome these limitations. She has a remarkable awareness of whether the dog's locked in his kennel, a time she savors by roaming freely without fear of a sudden, unappreciated puppy ambush.) 

So... Spike was in a brave and curious mood Saturday, showing up underfoot as I packed away the Christmas decorations.

My 17-year-old feline, who has been referred to by other members of the house as "the %#$@ cat that will never die," conveniently seems to have forgotten the variety of reasons she should be grateful that we even keep her. For instance, in the photo below, note the foam padding on the basement floor. We don't dare carpet down there because any time Spike wants to get a message to us that she's irritated about something, she has a tendency to miss the litter box. By as much as 30 feet.


Spike also doesn't seem to understand that as a cat, her lone job around here is to catch mice. And so we've been forced to set up mouse traps in the basement.

.

But of course we have to be careful where we set the mouse traps. We don't want to accidentally hurt the cat who can't be bothered to catch mice. Luckily, we've sectioned off parts of the basement, such as a storage area under the stairs, to keep the cat out so she can't use it as her litter box. It's the perfect place to set up mouse traps. We've caught several there. So it all works out kind of nicely, doesn't it?


Until it's time to put away holiday decorations. I was hunched over (just around the corner to the right in the above photo) trying to stack bins filled with Christmas stuff. As I backed around the corner, I caught sight of Spike casually making her way toward the mouse trap.

"Spike, do not..." I started to warn.

But she's deaf, and so she didn't hear me, and continued moving toward the trap...

I had to drop (literally) what I was doing and rushed to stop her before she stuck her nose in the peanut butter bait.

Crack!

Not the mouse trap.

My head.

On the low beam that hangs from the landing on our staircase. 

That got the cat's attention. Spike turned and ran and hid.

Could someone please remind me why I have pets? I used to think they were a good idea. But now I've forgotten the reasons. Must have been caused by hitting my head.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The joy of undecorating

I'm still allergic to dust mites.

I'm reminded of this every year at about this time. Not at the doctor's office. No, I get confirmation of this in my kitchen. And living room. And bedroom. And any other room where I've hung Christmas decorations that now have to come down. It's a vicious cycle. I know that I'm going to be horribly congested by the time I'm done, and so I delay the inevitable. Which allows an extra week or so of dust to accumulate.

Isn't there a song that wishes every day could be like Christmas? I wonder if it was written in the midst of taking down decorations. I'm grasping here. (And gasping a little, too.) I'll take any excuse to stall on this miserable task.

I did get some help this year. Sydney, who showed little interest (i.e. no interest) in helping me take ornaments off the Christmas tree a few weeks ago, was more than happy to pack up the decorations. As long as they were decorations she was willing to part with for the next 10 months.

"Rudolph isn't a decoration," she insisted. "He's my pet toy."

Candy canes also had to be carefully sorted. Some went on the kitchen table "for later." Others, she determined, needed to be eaten immediately.


We experienced another difference of opinion regarding her beloved glittery butterfly decorations. Sydney wanted to keep all 12 of them up 12 months of the year. Mommy, meanwhile, is pretty sick of having to shift them off the dresser handles every time I open or shut a drawer.

And so we packed away 10 of them, and let the other two flutter over to the closet door handles.

Compromise is a wonderful thing. 

Now, if I could just breathe, life would be good... at least until November when it's time to stir up the dust again and decorate for next Christmas.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

When do I get the undying loyalty and devotion?

Cats get such a bad rap. They're portrayed as sneaky and sly, the opposite of the loyal and upfront dog. When really, it's the dogs who are the tricky ones. They start out all adorable and sweet. Sure there are a few accidents, but who can stay mad at a face like this?


But then they get bigger. And bigger. And bigger.

And they continue to chew. And chew. And chew.

And then one day you look at your daughter's Barbie collection and realize it's a family of amputees. There's amputee Skipper:


And what can be said for poor baby sister Chelsea? Barbie's dream wedding is going to be a flower girl short. Chelsea won't be tossing rose petals down the aisle anytime soon.


Gus's reign of terror extends to more than just Barbies. (As if to make the point, he just walked into the office and pulled a wrapper out of the garbage and started shredding. Nice show of diversity, Gus, but today we're talking about what you do to toys.) The Playmobil mom... at least she was salvageable... though she's a bit of a bobblehead, now. But poor, poor, Tiana.


Ironically, Tiana just joined our house last week. A consolation gift after Gus destroyed a different Disney figurine.

I know what you're thinking. He's just a puppy. He's trying to get attention. He just wants someone to play with him. Well, let me tell you. Last night the kids did a phenomenal job of wearing him out. Running around and climbing on the couch, throwing balls and tackling him. Gus actually sat down at one point to catch his breath. 

And then he walked over to the fireplace ledge and destroyed one of his namesakes. (The idea for "Gus" came from Cinderella's mice friends, Gus and Jacque.)


Don't let the sweetly innocent, "Who, me?" look fool you. That's an Imaginext alien ray gun he's trying to conceal in his mouth.


The final straw?

He hurt (deep breath) Sally.


Sally is mine. And now she's missing a hand and a huge hunk of her trademark 'do.

Nobody hurts my Sally doll.

I'd ask if anyone out there wants to adopt a dog, but I know Jeff would never allow it.

Anybody want to adopt me? I get along well with cats, children and older dogs. Just no puppies.

Friday, January 20, 2012

-8 degrees can be so cool!

I think the cold weather has started to affect my brain. The frigid cold temperatures of the last two days are starting to seem fun. (Of course, I say that knowing that it's supposed to warm up later today and should be 30 degrees warmer by Sunday.)

Knowing we had a limited window of opportunity to demonstrate for the kids something I once got to demonstrate as a reporter, (I'm pretty sure just about every other TV reporter/weather caster in Duluth has done the same.) I boiled some water last night and grabbed the camera as Jeff threw it into the cold night air.


Poof! Instant steam!

AJ's mind instantly started to race. What else could he do with water in the cold? Remembering that Sydney's preschool class had a "homework" assignment this week of putting water in the freezer to see what happened to it, AJ decided to put a bowl of water outside on the front step. (I probably could have told him this would work any night for the next two months, but hey, who am I to spoil the fun?)

Sydney of course had to copy him. Unfortunately, she seemed to mix up the two experiments, and so after filling her bowl with water,


she walked to the front door and flung it in the air.

It did not turn into steam.

Oops!

Meanwhile, I'd posted the steam photo on Facebook, and a high school friend who lives in a slightly warmer climate showed it to her daughter, Reagan, who thought it looked really cool and asked if there was video of it. What a great idea! 

I shared this with AJ, who thought Reagan's name was pretty cool because he remembers Ronald Reagan's birthday is the day before his own. (It's how his mind works. I'm sure he would have helped even if she didn't share a name with a president.) And so this morning, AJ and I repeated the boiling water trick. 

Here's your video, Reagan. Sorry that it's sideways. I have no idea why it's doing that. It looks normal on my computer until I upload it.

video

I love how casual he was at the end. He was probably overcome with relief that he hadn't gotten hurt. (I might have gone a little over the top in my warnings to him before we did this, to make sure he didn't somehow spill or toss the boiling water on himself.)

And then he remembered his other experiment. Off the kids ran to check their bowls of water

...which, of course, had frozen hours ago.


So then the question became what do you do with really big ice cubes?

Turn it into a puppy treat. Gus liked this experiment the best.


And now I'm ready for warmer weather.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sleeper conversations

Bedtime remains one of my favorite moments of the day. Oh, I know what you're thinking. It's because after a long, exhausting day, the promise of a few peaceful moments to myself are at last just minutes away. The light at the end of the tunnel grows brighter as the kids' bedroom lights go off.

And yes, that's part of it. But even more than that, I love the end of day conversations with AJ.


"Mom, what was your favorite part of the day?" He's gotten good at beating me to the punch, asking the question I usually ask him. He then guesses, "is it right now when you're snuggling with your children?"

My future politician's next move usually involves turning up the charm, giving me a hug and declaring that I'm one of his favorite girls.

This is actually a fairly new development, and a bit of a downgrade for me. I used to be the best mom in the whole world. Now I'm categorized as one of his favorite girls. The first time he announced this, I had to question who else was on this list.

"Sydney."

"No girlfriends on this list?" I couldn't resist teasing.

"No!"

Sometimes, our conversations while lying in the dark, reveal issues that have clearly been weighing on his mind. Such was the case one night last week, after a less than stellar hockey game.

"On the way home tonight, Dad and I had a talk," he told me, his voice was very serious. "Dad said I wasn't trying as hard as I could have. (Pause) Well, I thought about it. (Another pause) And I really was trying as hard as I could."

Another night: "Mom, I've decided I'm still gonna say 'gonna'." (I'd been correcting him on that earlier in the evening.) "But I won't say 'ain't' because I think that sounds stupid, too."

Other bedtime conversations involve whatever thought pops into his head that he figures has stall tactic potential.

"I can smell the soap you use," he told me one recent night. "It's like flowers. Mixed with starfish."

What?

I don't know what starfish smell like, let alone what a starfish/flower combo scent might be. And then a few days later I happened to glance at the soap container's label.


And I don't think I want to know what inspired his thought process a couple nights ago. A commercial? A TV show? The comments made by the fake Bob Harper character when I'm working out to the Biggest Loser on XBox?

"Mom, can girls get abs?"

"Yes."

"Did you ever get any?"

"Go to sleep."

"I love you, Mom."

"I love you, too."

And that's why I will continue to snuggle with him at bedtime, for as long as he lets me. For as long as I remain one of his favorite girls.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

And then I turned around and they were big

It happened again. I'm not quite sure when, but it did.

My kids grew up even more.

How is it that I don't realize this fact until I have photographic proof slapping me in the face like this morning's frigidly cold wind chill? 

AJ's hockey team posed for pictures last week, and all I can say is "Wow". It's not just that he looks big. I'm used to seeing him on ice and know that the skates and padding add inches and bulk. This is all about his face and attitude. This is no rookie skater. This is a three-year veteran who's confident on the ice and lives and breaths the sport.


And that was only the first bit of shock. Then came pictures of my "baby".


She's still supposed to look like a preschooler! And yet with her helmet-tousled hair and casual smile, she looks like she's been doing this for years.

There is no team photo for the kids in Learn to Skate. No buttons for the moms to proudly wear on their coats. But one of the perks of being friends with the photographer is getting to squeeze in one extra photo subject after the hockey players have all been photographed. Thank you, Crystal!

She also took this fun shot:


AJ had grown impatient by this point. He just wanted to get back to playing with his team. At least Sydney's expression is more typical of the smile I know and love.

On the subject of hockey. Sydney now thinks she's ready to play. At practice last night, her "coach" (That sounds so much more official and cool than "teacher," doesn't it?) tried to show her the "snowplow" technique of pointing her toes slightly inward to slow down and stop. Sydney wasn't interested. So instead she taught herself how to skate backwards. So now she thinks she's ready. Hopefully by next week she'll have convinced herself she needs to learn to slow and down and stop. Maybe then she'll focus on the lesson being taught.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Skating after two lessons

Learn to Skate class #3 ended up getting cancelled tonight due to the instructor having a sick child. My initial reaction was "why couldn't that have happened tomorrow night when the temperature is supposed to barely break 0 degrees?" And then I remembered the world doesn't revolve around me and my desire for a toasty body temperature.

I called Jeff so he knew he didn't have to rush supper, and suggested he pack Sydney's gear anyway, so she could still do some skating during AJ's hockey practice. Here she is, demonstrating how - in less than a week - she's learned to propel herself forward like a fearless maniac.

video

Despite her progress, Sydney informed me  she's not ready to play hockey yet.

"Why not?" I asked.

"Because I don't know how to skate backwards yet."

"That doesn't matter," I told her. "Your brother played hockey for at least a year before he learned to skate backwards."

That was pretty exciting news for her. Almost as exciting as the big helmet swap. (Look for AJ wearing a new, black helmet in blog posts to come. His old helmet was so small it was squishing his glasses into the side of his skull and giving him headaches. Not a good situation. I tried to convince Jeff we should stick with a white helmet because it made AJ so much easier to pick out in the crowd and identify him in pictures. But Jeff seems to think a little thing like teams having a uniform look is important, and so I was over-ruled.) Anyway... Sydney's helmet had also grown too small, and so she was very excited to replace it with AJ's old white one. I suspect once AJ is big enough to sweat, Sydney may not be quite so willing to embrace his hand-me-downs.

And so with new helmet on and her determination set at full speed ahead, Sydney skated up and down the little rink. And she's set her sights on playing hockey next year. Not for the Esko team, she informed me. She's going to play for the Mite 1's.

Some gravitational force must have shifted the world to again revolve around me, because all I can wonder is if this means I have to work twice as many shifts in the concession stand.

P.S. Cousin Zane, if you decide to play hockey or are ready to attempt skating, Sydney has a barely-used black helmet for you to try.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Online "communication"

In first grade, I remember learning to read, tie my shoes and tell time. My son is learning to send emails and post assignments online.

How the world has changed!

AJ's teacher warned us last week that we should should expect an email - it would come from her e-mail address, but would be written by our child. Sure enough, the below message arrived Friday. 


His first email: short and sweet, and a bit confusing. What's with the ending about "going to watch TV"? Was he signing off to go watch TV? No, he explained when he got home from school, on Pajama Day, they get to watch TV. Aaahhh.

I asked AJ if he typed the email himself. Yes, he did. How long did it take? Two days.

It got me thinking. I can't remember when exactly I got email capabilities. I know I was an adult, and suspect it was through work at WDIO, because I don't think I had a home computer until after I got married. But who was the first person I emailed and what did I write about? I have no clue.

This isn't AJ's first time typing on the computer. Aside from the various online games he's played, he also posted this little gem on his class' microsite. The assignment was to first write a little bit about themself, and then type it. 


Isn't that special. If you can't decipher it, here are the three most important things my son thinks you should know about him:
My name is Alex
I am 6 years old.
I have an Iraq $1,000 dollar bill.

It's always nice to see what matters from his perspective.

Supposedly, by spring, he'll learn how to make a PowerPoint presentation. When he's done, maybe he can teach me.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Glove drama

One would think, by this point in the season, I'd be better at this. It's been at least two months since the annual letter came home from school, reminding parents to dress their children in snowpants, hats and gloves every day. And yet, once again this morning, I was running around the house, frantically searching for a matching set of gloves

Note from the school aside, it's four degrees this morning in our chilly part of the tundra. Not wearing gloves is simply not an option.I don't need a reminder to dress my child in appropriate warm weather gear. What would help is tips on how not to lose those winter accessories. Or maybe a reminder to give oneself at least ten minutes to find them before the bus rounds the corner heading for our driveway.

AJ is wearing two very different gloves to school today. And part of me hopes he gets laughed at. Maybe it will teach him a lesson.

Bad photo... but there was no time to pose... trust me, the glove on his left is green camouflage. The one on the right is black and royal blue.
Finding matching gloves this morning was not easy. I located a few single gloves in the closet, and found a lot of single gloves buried in the mess better known as my dining room table.


"AJ, where are your gloves?" I asked in desperation as he put on his hat and struggled to zip his coat.

"I don't know, I wore them at hockey last night."

"Which ones?"

"The skeleton gloves."

I checked his hockey bag. No gloves.

Then I realized, as cold as it had been last night, he probably also wore them home.  I checked his room where he'd piled his hockey gear. No gloves.

I checked the car. No gloves.

I tried the "think about what you did when you got home last night. What did you do? Where might you have set them?" routine. It didn't work.

I briefly debated sending him in my gloves, but didn't want to risk losing them. A glance at the clock revealed the bus should be rolling down our street any second. I grabbed the blue/black glove. It was for a right hand. I ran to the closet and found the camouflage glove. Could I possibly be this lucky? Yes! It was for the left hand. Victory!

"Here you are. This is what you're wearing today."

As AJ was heading out the door, Jeff - who gets to do this fun job the other four days of the week when I'm working - came wandering from the bedroom to see what the commotion had been about. Or maybe he justn't want to enjoy watching me stumble through what he seems to do much more smoothly. "AJ wore the white gloves to hockey last night," he said.

The white gloves? Of course. That's the pair I usually put on Sydney when we can't find her regular gloves. I'd found those earlier this morning and noted they seemed particularly dirty and had thrown them in the laundry.

We'll likely need to wear gloves for at least the next three months. I shall count my blessings that I only have to get my first grader ready for the bus one day a week. And now I think it's time to tackle the mess better known as my dining room.