Thursday, January 31, 2013

Breakfast of champions. And mooches.

It's a good thing Gus doesn't show the effects of a sugar rush. Or maybe he's so naturally hyper that you can't tell the difference when he downs a bunch of sugar coated cereal.

AJ was looking for some Chocolate Frosted Flakes for breakfast. But there wasn't enough left in the box, so  - in his words - "I was reaching for the Chocolate Cheerios and they knocked over the Cocoa Puffs, which knocked over the Trix, and then Gus got it."

Don't you just hate when cereal boxes turn into dominoes!

Gus managed to snarf up every last one. Quite the effective vacuum, he is.

I just want to make it clear. I do have more than just sugar coated cereal in my cupboard. They're just shoved fairly far back on the sliding shelf. Probably because my kids never pick them.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Autograph hunting on ice

Sunday's event was promoted as "Skate with the Bulldogs". What a great opportunity for two young hockey players who already seem to be bleeding maroon and gold (and not for my alma mater's team, the Gophers.)

But then it got a little awkward, because AJ - not know we were already thinking of doing this - brought home a hand-written slip of paper announcing the event, and said that it was an invitation to a birthday party for a girl in his class who I've never heard him mention before. And her party was going to be at this event. Now,I appreciate those parents who want to include everyone, but it makes it tough for the other parents to decide is it a real invitation, or just a courtesy one. I've made that mistake before and AJ's ended up as the only boy at a female classmate's party.

We decided we would go skating as a family. AJ could skate with any classmates he saw, but would not be joining them in the party room. 

And then it got really awkward because we ran into the girl and her mom as we were walking in and AJ told her that he wouldn't be going to her party because his mom didn't buy a gift, but it was okay because everyone could skate. It was a public event.


And then another interesting development came along. AJ told me later, (I'm not sure what transpired for him to learn this) that it wasn't the girl's birthday party after all. It was her brother's birthday, and her parents had suggested she could invited friends to skate with her so she wouldn't be bored.

I'm so glad I didn't buy a present!

So all that drama aside, we finally made it on the ice:

There were lots of Bulldogs there, all with Sharpies in hand. I have to credit the marketing wizards at the college. They did this well. They had pre-printed posters, listing the names and numbers of all the players, so we just had to move around the ice in search of the guys with matching numbers on their jerseys to collect their autographs.

I quickly realized I needed to adjust my position when taking photos. This guy could turn out to be famous some day, and you'd never know we once stood this close to him. (Based on the partial 5 on his jersey and the spot on the poster where's he signing, I'm pretty sure it's Justin Crandall.)

So here we've got a face and a clearly visible jersey number. That's #18, Joe Basaraba, don't you know?

And everybody knows who the next guy is. Sydney was quite proud she got the autographs of Champ, as well as one of the cheerleaders (who signed her name with a big heart on the back of the poster.)

I finally caught up to AJ, who had been racing from player to player. This is Charlie Sampair (who I've never heard of.)

Jeff had been following with AJ and managed to snap a couple of great photos. Except once again, with no jersey number visible, we have no idea who the player is.

Wait! The guy in the photo below looks an awful lot like the guy I photographed with Sydney. I bet that's Basaraba again. (And he is one of the key players this year. I've heard his name called out for scoring goals numerous times.)

Once the kids were done finding players (I joked with a few that I was going to yell Bingo when we filled up our card) we at last started to skate. AJ was a little bored no being able to have a hockey stick and puck. But Sydney loved it. She's race by us shouting "Woo Woo!" in hopes we would chase her.

Even without pads on, she showed no fear. It really was impressive to see how fast she can go. And I could help but think back to how very differently she acted two years ago, the last time we went to one of these events.

It also was a bit concerning to see what a flirt she can be. She told player #6 that six was her favorite number and she's #6 on her team. She also told two players that she sang the national anthem for their game a few weeks ago. (And then she beamed when one of the players responded, "That was you? You did a great job!")

While snuggling at bedtime she commented to me, "I wonder if my husband will be a Bulldog. Or maybe a handy man."

Nice to know she's considering all her options.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

This is why I don't run a daycare

It's amazing the things you forget in five years. Memories that all come rushing back during four hours of babysitting children younger than your own. 

Watching my brother's three kids Saturday night brought it all back. For instance, here are just a few things I now realize I'd forgotten:
  • What it's like to unload groceries and cook dinner one-handed because the other arm is busy holding a baby. (I finally delegated cooking to Jeff.)
  • What it's like to eat dinner while trying not to spill on an awake baby who (thankfully) is quite content to be draped over my lap.
  • How much a baby drools while in the above described position.
  • How unpredictable a baby's sleep and eating schedule can be.
  • What a challenge it can be to do all the above while also trying to watch a toddler.
I should also mention something new I learned: just how loud five kids can be - especially when Nerf guns are involved.

Finn had fussed at first after being dropped off, but was quickly distracted when he saw the play kitchen and toy food in Sydney's room. Though, note those are not cookies on the tray. They are "cakes". 

During the short time Zoe napped, we were able to play downstairs. AJ was quite excited to teach his cousins the joys of basement hockey. We briefly gave them each a hockey stick before realizing that was an accident waiting to happen. Which was fine with Finn. He was happy just carrying and throwing balls.

And then Miss Zoe decided a 20-minute nap was long enough, and even though she'd only eaten an hour ago and supposedly is on an every-three-hours eating schedule, she was hungry again. AJ loved helping with this part.

Meanwhile, Sydney and Zane played Play-doh and ate the Skittles we'd gotten earlier in the day at the snack shack.

And then we decided it was time to settle down. Finn requested Elmo, and thankfully we still had an Elmo DVD.

Ahhh... peace and quiet at last. Just in time for Zoe to go to sleep. Giving me a chance to enjoy one of my favorite things I will always remember about babies: how wonderful it is to snuggle with them on my chest.

I've loved my children at every stage. Each new development brings its share of challenges, but I wouldn't go back in time. And so, to my brother and sister-in-law, let me just say: better you than me! (But know that we'd be happy to watch them all again.)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hockey again - UPDATED

Finally it's AJ's turn again to play. Two cancelled practices due to cold temps plus one postponed game, meant he had eight straight days of no skating. But he returned with a vengeance. First with a game Friday night in which he scored two goals (plus two assists, he's shouting at me from the other room. We must make sure the record is accurate.)

He followed that up with two games on Saturday. The first was at 9 a.m., when the temperature was -8 degrees. AJ got to play goalie.

Maybe it's because it had been so cold and windy all week. Or maybe it's because hypothermia had caused me to become delusional. But standing in the sun with barely a breeze, it really didn't seem so bad. At least as far as -8 degree games go.

I figured it was a good game for AJ to be in the net. Goalies wear a lot of extra padding, which I figured would keep him warm. But goalies also do a lot of standing still, and don't get to warm up on the bench every other shift.

AJ didn't seem to mind though. Probably because the game ended in his first win as a goalie.

For the second game, AJ played center and scored a hat trick.

Making it extra special, my brother's family showed up to watch. AJ was pretty excited to score in front of his uncle and cousin Zane. 

And Sydney got to show Zane where the snack shack was. And Zane got to get Skittles. And then we got to go home and warm up.

So everyone was happy. The end.

**** Update****

It turns out this story wasn't quite over after all. 

Zane has left his mark during his trip to the tundra. I neglected to mention that in the process of getting his Skittles, Zane managed to tip over a cup of coffee belonging to the woman standing next to him at the counter of the snack shack. Thankfully no one got burned, and we were able to quickly clean it up.

Fast forward a day. My brother's family decided to check out the new Canal Park brewery next to their hotel. Their server looked at them and asked if they'd been at the Esko Jamboree the previous day. It was the woman whose coffee Zane spilled. Gotta love our small town!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Comercial cleaning power

Sydney is quite excited that today is her Dad's birthday. All week long we've been doing the countdown. Is it three days after tomorrow? Is it the next day after tomorrow?

By Sunday night, she couldn't wait. She had to make a card for him. (Which is now hidden in the secret spot in my sock drawer. She giggles every time she thinks about it.) The problem was, she wanted to be by me while she colored, and I was laying on my bed reading a book.

She promised she would be very careful. I warned her not to color off the paper.

"Will it get germs?" She wondered.

"No, it would stain the bed spread."

Of course, it was only a matter of minutes before.... "Uh oh," she said.

I couldn't see a mark, so I told her not to worry about it. But clearly she did.

"Mom, you need to get ochy-clean," she told me.

"What's ochy-clean?" I asked.

"It's for stains," she was all-knowing.

"You mean Oxy Clean?"

"Yeah. Oxy Clean. It gets tough stains out."

Yes, she's been watching too many commercials.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

(Anything but) a nice, frosty cold one

If it had just been this cold, the day probably would have been more routine.

But Mother Nature decided to throw in a stiff breeze, which dropped the windchill to the -30 to -50 degree range, the coldest it's been here in six years. And like falling dominoes, one school after another throughout the region announced it would close.

Jeff and I quickly compared schedules. He stayed home in the morning. I took the afternoon shift, doing a little work from home by offering kids the promise of a trip to the Children's Museum if they played quietly while I did it.

I brought my laptop with to the Museum, and was able to get even more work done. But I have to admit I put it down for a while so I could watch the kids experiment using playdoh as part of a circuit.

A couple of wires, a small light bulb, two blobs of dough and a battery. The kids were fascinated. AJ of course subscribes to the theory of if some is good more is better, but he learned that's not necessarily the case here.

Two many wires diluted the amount of energy (I think that's what happened) so the light bulb wouldn't turn on.

Meanwhile, Sydney experimented to see if yarn (no) or pipe cleaners (yes) could work instead of the wire.

I'd like to say it was the experiment that put all that static in her hair, but no, that was the residual effect of taking her hat off 10 minutes earlier.

AJ eventually gave in and removed the excess wires. At last, success!

Victory was short lived, however. Shortly after this photo was taken, the Museum's education director learned he probably should warn kids not to directly touch the wires together. It burns out the light bulbs very quickly.

It's nice we could all learn a little something, even on a day off from school.

And now it's time to head back out into the cold. School's back in session, and back to work I go.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hockey party planner

If Sydney were to write this blog post, I think it would start something like this:

We had so much fun in Silver Bay with everybody from my hockey team and their families. We stayed at a hotel and got to do a lot of swimming while all the moms and dads sat around talking. Too bad the fun had to be interrupted by so many hockey games.

I remember the first time we went to Silver Bay for one of AJ's hockey tournaments. We were still dealing with diapers and pack-n-plays for Sydney. But now it was her turn on the ice.

And before my Dad or anyone else makes a comment about Sydney only using one hand to hang on to her hockey stick, I want to note that we already had that conversation with her, and it turns out she had a very good reason (in her opinion) for skating that way.

When we got back to the locker room, she removed her glove and proudly showed us the penny she had found and kept safe in her glove so she wouldn't lose it. Throughout the entire game.

But enough about hockey, because the real fun started back at the motel.

We and a few other families went up Friday night. And it was while swimming with a couple boys on her team that Sydney hatched a plan. She wanted to have a party. In our room. She started by asking Nolan's mom, and then Max's Dad. We told her she could invite them over to play, but it would have to wait until the next night.

(No, these photos have nothing to do with the party. I didn't get any pictures of that.) By Saturday, the rest of the team arrived and Sydney's invitation list expanded significantly. I'm pretty sure everyone at the Silver Bay arena, referees included, heard about the party that Sydney was throwing in room 120.

What Sydney didn't know is that the moms, like we do every year, had already organized a potluck meal for Saturday night in the hotel's hospitality room. I told Sydney we'd have to have her party there since she'd invited too many people to fit in our room.

She was okay with that. But continued to take her party hostess responsibilities very seriously. She made sure everyone knew of the new location, and was delighted to see how much food magically appeared. Everyone must have really wanted to come to her party! She asked Jeff and me and just about every other adult if she could borrow our iPhones to play music. Because how could you have a party without music? And she even suggested to Coach Bob - who was more than happy to announce it in a loud voice to all in the room - that Sydney wanted to lead a toast to Esko Hockey. Cheers!

By Sunday, it was back to hockey for one more game. Back at the arena, parents continued to stop us and thank Sydney for her wonderful party. Sydney beamed. She also must have been energized because after being shut out the first two games, she managed to score three... count 'em... three* goals in Sunday's game. "I got a hat trick!" She proudly announced when she came off the ice.

*Note the asterisk. Two of Sydney's goals shouldn't have counted, except they don't count goals anyway, so what's the harm? Sydney figured out if someone from her team scores, it's really easy to score again if you plant yourself in front of the net. The other team would take the puck out of the net, and she'd push it right back in. But one of her goals was legit. And she seems to be putting in more effort each game, so I'm fine with that.

At the end of the game, the players again got medals.

It's a good thing the hockey experience involves so much more than just hockey.

Monday, January 21, 2013

VIP treatment

Funny how you can take out the full-time job component of your life and focus on your kids and still find yourself busier than ever. Too busy, anyway, to blog about the busy-ness. That's the best excuse I can come up with right now for my several day absence. 

I haven't been to work since 2 p.m. last Thursday, and yet this is still the first moment I've taken the time to share these fun photos. It was the culmination of Sydney's week as VIP.

We shared what she'd written and the photos in the journal. And then I got to read to her class - it was an Amelia Bedelia book we had checked out from the library that Sydney simply fell in love with. (And one that I was more than happy to return the next day, we've read it so many times.)

The biggest challenge was holding the book so all the kids could see. Around Sydney. She got to stand by me while we read, and kept shifting around to get the best view.

She was so excited to have me there, and to get to go home with me (we picked up AJ, too) when it was done. "This is my first time being pick-up when I didn't have a show," she reminded me. The kindergartners have put on two music programs so far this year, and I've brought her home with me afterward each time.

When all was said and done, I asked her what was her favorite part of being VIP. "Being line leader, and helping Ms. Boese, and my poster, and you coming to class, and bringing a snack and doing the journal," was her answer. (I may have switched the order of a couple of those, but she pretty much listed every perk there was.)

"Not taking care of Little Bear?" I asked, noting the one thing she hadn't mentioned.

"And Little Bear, too." She grinned and hugged me.

It's good to be VIP. Even better to be her mom.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Too cold!

Intensely competitive kid that he is, AJ tells me he much prefers being a Mite 2 compared to a Mite 1. Fair weather fan Mom that I am, I'm liking the Mite 2s more right now, too. Why? Because the Mite 2 coaches sent out an e-mail yesterday afternoon announcing last night's game was postponed due to the extreme frigid conditions (-14 degree windchill forecast at game time).

Meanwhile, Sydney's Mite 1 team had a game scheduled for the same time with the same weather conditions. And the decision for her game was... Game on!

Sydney's #6 in the white helmet.
Oh! Brrrrrr! What a miserable game-watching experience that was!

AJ made the best of it, volunteering to serve as ref.

It was all good until some little kid crashed into him and he fell, jamming a finger on the ice. At least his fingers weren't cold. Jeff had provided both kids with hand warmers. He'd also put Sydney in two pairs of socks, but apparently that wasn't enough. She stuck with it through about three quarters of the game before finally needing to come inside and warm up.

From Sydney's perspective, however, it was a good thing her game wasn't cancelled. Not because she likes playing in the cold, but because she really wanted to bring Little Bear to the hockey shack, so we could take a picture for the VIP journal.

Today's the big day: Little Bear goes back to school (All in one piece, I might add! We kept him safe from Gus for 72 hours!). The journal goes back to school. I'll be reading to her class and bringing treats this afternoon. And then my mother-of-the-VIP responsibilities are done!

Just in time for me to return to my mother-of-two-hockey-players responsibilities. I get to work another shift in the hockey shack's concession stand later this afternoon.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cupid strikes

It's tough to be a five-year-old, infatuated with all things Valentine's Day, wanna-be decorator, when your Mom's complete collection of Valentine's decorations consists of this:

Three little metal buckets with heart-shaped cut-outs (courtesy of the $1 bin at Target) and... you might have to squint to see them... seven heart ornaments that hang from the curtain rods.

Compared to the Christmas decor, which I finally took down over the weekend, this is such a let down.

And so Sydney asked if she could make some Valentine's decorations of her own. What a great solution! She's busy being creative and constructive. And I don't have to listen to her whine about not getting to watch what she wants on TV.

Beware of giving a  five-year-old, infatuated with all things Valentine's Day, wanna-be decorator free reign with paper, markers and tape. I now have decorations on cupboards,

the entertainment center

and a chest.

Look closely, that's not just any heart. It's a
heart. (Why must these holidays have such long names?!?)

And this is all after just one day. We've got almost a full month to go. I wonder if my tape supply will last.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Oh, the specialness of it all!

Sydney is VIP this week. I can also call her Star of the Week if I'd like, she told me. It's the same thing.

She came home from school Monday as excited as could be. Even before she made it in the front door she was doing her best to show me the extra bag she was carrying. The bright red VIP bag is full of all sorts of wonderful surprises, such as a note saying I need to send a snack on Thursday, and clear my schedule so I can read to her class, and help her create an All about Me poster and write in a journal about the wonderful things she got to do this week with Little Bear.

Who's Little Bear? Why, only the most exciting part of being VIP.

Normally, I'm not a germ freak. But I couldn't help but cringe when Sydney pulled the somewhat crusty overly loved stuffed bear out of the bag. AJ immediately grabbed the toy and embraced it. It's the same bear  he got to bring home two years ago. And so, in the midst of this flu season, all I can think of is how many germs from how many kids are now embedded in that fuzzy fake fur.

My other overwhelming fear: how do we keep Little Bear from falling victim to a naughty golden retriever who loves to tear up stuffed animals? What kind of trauma would it cause to a room full of kindergartners if  Little Bear returned minus an eye, ear and half his stuffing? Sydney would be an outcast for life!

I've warned her that she can't leave Little Bear laying around, and so far she's been doing a good job. He "helped" her with her poster and slept with her last night. Here's a photo we'll be including in the journal.

We also plan to bring Little Bear with us to hockey practice this evening.

Worth noting: some of Sydney's answers on her All About Me poster:

  • My favorite color: turquoise (never mind that she used a mint green marker to color in that space.)
  • Places she'd like to go: a hotel
  • Someday I'd like to be: I don't know
  • My favorite subject: quiet time

Oh, the irony of that last answer. This is from the same child who'd been running around with Little Bear and loudly singing made up songs about the stuffed toy. And her favorite subject is quiet time. Mine, too.