Wow! Finally – Down Shifting!

ImageWe have had a whirlwind weekend at Chez-Oz!  Friday evening consisted of a very important hockey game which, due to a totally awesome victory, lead to a road trip the following day for a championship game.  Not to mention the excitement for Mia’s karate belt graduation on Saturday.  And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the resurrection of Mia’s iPod thanks to some savvy techs at the local repair shop.  The poor thing had been without it for close to three months and is now the definition of a happy camper.

Once her graduation was over she and I hopped in the car for an overnight “roady”, as the hockey lingo goes, to a beautifully placid place for the hockey championships.  Bella was away for the weekend with a friend and her family so she missed out on all the craziness but had, in her words, “a total blast!”

As if that weren’t enough, after the devastating loss in hockey we were up bright and early to get back home for a family birthday party.  Am I done?  Ohhh no!  Once we made it to the party we came home to pick up Bella and finish a school project that Mia was supposed to have worked on with a classmate.  (Why oh WHY do teachers insist on group projects?)  After multiple attempts at trying to get her classmate to finish the project, we just decided to ditch the classmate and finish it ourselves.

After running to the crafts shop to grab a few last minute things for the project, we come home Sunday around 6 pm to a phone message from said classmate’s mom begging us to meet up at her office to finish the project.  I stood my ground but not wanting to ruin things for Mia, I caved and we went and spent over two hours finishing up that blasted project which, of course, the mom, Mia and I worked on while the classmate “played.”

I so just wanted to take a nap this morning but the busy weekend left the house looking like a Kansas tornado blew through so here I sit wanting nothing but a nap as I clean, pick up and reminisce over a totally awesome weekend!

On a side note, last week I sent an email to Bella’s PE teacher to thank him for going the extra mile in a unit they are doing because he made sure he tracked down equipment that would fit Bella’s size.  Here is his response;

” It is my pleasure, I admire Bella for her effort to always do her best
without excuses. She remains positive when many students would give up. I
will always do whatever I can to support her efforts. Thank you for the
kind words …”

After reading that, I suddenly don’t feel so tired …

Friends Filling the Void … Hockey Style

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Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp … after Sharp SCORED!

It is somewhat incredible how God can step into your life and bring with Him people that fill a void that you didn’t even realized needed filling.  Oddly enough, my life has been enriched beyond measure by what I call my hockey family.  Crazy, I know, but that is how God works sometimes.   He is all sorts of stealth, and I love Him for it!

Some three years ago, on Facebook, another Chicago Blackhawks fan was razzing me and when I saw the last name, I remembered having a former student with that name and assumed it was John giving me a hard time.  After chatting a bit and realizing that it wasn’t the John I knew, just for fun, we became friends anyway because he was just so damn funny.  John lived on the west coast and was married with two kids.  We both joked about how our spouses hated hockey and we decided to become each other’s hockey spouse.  That meant sharing cool articles and texting each other game scores when the other was working, etc.  If I got caught up in family things and forgot to text him, he would message stating that I needed to get my act together or else he was going to file for hockey divorce! HA HA!

Over these past two years, John has gone through some very difficult times and I watched a man go from an all time low to now flying high by getting his life straight with a new job, a new lady in his life and a beautiful relationship with God.  The women in his life consider me his sister and his kids call me “Auntie.”  My kids call him Uncle John and the relationships that our families have is amazingly beautiful … all because of a hockey team.

This summer we have plans in place to finally get out families together and meet.  My Bella texts her Uncle John every day with a countdown of the number of days until we all get together.  My husband is a real sport about it, I have to admit, but I think it has more to do with the fact that I have someone else to talk hockey with and it saves him from having to feign interest!  HA HA!

My friend Andy (short for Andrea), is another Blackhawks fan and is just all sorts of crazy!  We met the same way I met John and we have a similar relationship.  We come from the same ethnic background and while I’m probably old enough to be her mother, I am her Hawk sister!  Game days we have our own special ritual and just last month, I was dying laughing, she sent me a pic of her computer screen during her night class – she had her ear buds in and was watching the game on her screen instead of paying attention to her professor.  I just LOVE this girl!  We will be heading to Chicago to visit family this summer and meeting Andy is on our list of things to do!

There is also Mike, he and I became buds on a hockey website where I wrote an article he liked, we exchanged a few emails and now, he is like my big brother.  He was quite a great ear last week when I was ready to choke my LBD-wearing cousin until her face turned blue. His family makes him crazy too so we share war stories that don’t seem so bad when someone else knows the shoes you are walking in.

He and I have very warped, twisted senses of humor and we swap jokes and funny blogs all the time.  We share strong opinions on certain players and general managers in the NHL and often have “I hear ya!” bitch sessions via email.   The only thing we disagree on is Patrick Sharp.  I love him, Mike hates him and whenever Sharp misses a pass, has a puck hit the cross bar and not go in – I get a text from Mike telling me that we need to trade him.

Mike and I share an appreciation of cynicism as well.  We regularly joke about writing a book about how to be a good cynic.  He calls his wife “The Warden” so I think we have the potential for a best-seller.

So, who needs selfish, pain-in-the-ass relatives when you have friends like these?

Damn straight!   Go Hawks!

Full Disclosure

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One of my readers, who is also the infamous Mark who encouraged me to start my blog, has been hounding me to provide readers with full disclosure.  I have told you all about my family, my parenting philosophy, my pet-peeves, etc.  But I have been reluctant to share my true passion, my raison d’etre.  While I love to read CIA/spy novels, I have literally read some twenty or so on the past year, this time of year brings about my completely unadulterated selfish passion … hockey.

Yes, believe it or not, I love the game of hockey.  I love everything about it except the present National Hockey League Commissioner, Gary Bettman.   But this isn’t a sports blog so I will keep that commentary to a minimum.  Why do I love hockey?  Well, growing up in Snow Country certainly attributed to it and where I spent my childhood you learned to skate usually before you started kindergarten.  We had an ice rink within two block of my house and when I wasn’t playing in the snow, I was at the rink, sometimes on the weekends I was there for some five or six hours a day just for open skating.

I love the sound that the blades make when they hit the ice, the sensation of the cold air in my nose, the smell of the ice, the swoosh of the spray that is made when you stop quickly and on and on. I would have played hockey when I was growing up but my mom wouldn’t have it.  No girls play hockey, they figure skate.  So I figure skated, all the time wishing I could play hockey.   I used to love to go to hockey games, there was never a shortage of them where I grew up, and there were three rinks in town and leagues for all ages.   While it wasn’t part of my decision in choosing my college, it was nice to know that I went to a school that didn’t have a football team, but it did have, and still does have, one hell of a hockey team.

So, as most families’ evenings begin to wind down around 8 PM, homework is done, showers are taken and bedtime is just around the corner – my life is just beginning.  Most NHL games start between 7 and 8 PM, which fits into our family schedule perfectly.  Once the girls are in their rooms for the night, usually around 8:30, I can be found with my happy ass parked on the couch watching either my beloved Chicago Blackhawks or the ever-disappointing Buffalo Sabres.

How bad is it?  Well, let’s just say, much to my husband’s chagrin, there are two Chicago Blackhawks pennants hanging proudly in the living room that have been there for over three years now with no intention of every coming down and my cell phone cover, keychain and computer desktop all share this same theme.   Last spring, during the playoffs, my favorite player, Marian Hossa, was hit illegally and laid motionless on the ice for what seemed like an eternity. I was crying so hard that I woke up Bella.  She came into the living room and sleepily rubbed her eyes asking what was wrong.  I told her what happened and she cuddled up next to me on the couch as we watched his unconscious body being taken off the ice on a stretcher.  He suffered a concussion and was out for the rest of the season and the player that hit him was suspended for 25 games.  Trust me, he got off easy.  The NHL should have just put him in a room with me for about five minutes and I would have happily called it even.

Hockey is my other life.  I have hockey friends that I have made on Twitter over the years and every year we have a fantasy hockey league.  We have a blast taunting, teasing and torturing each other over bad trades, players who have bad games and most importantly, who is kicking whose ass in the points standing.  Right now I am rocking in 2nd place posed to take over the lead come Monday.  I am down by just 10 points and if my team has some good games today and tomorrow, I will have bragging rights, for the week at least.

So, there you have it, my full disclosure.  Now, think for a moment, what do you do for you, totally and completely for you?  If you don’t have something, find one – it will be what keeps you sane in moments of insanity, calm in moments of adversity and smiling in moments of sadness.

What have you done for you lately?