For Nikki


Last Friday, my friend Nikki posted Five for Friday. So today, I will return a post as requested.  It is a list of five weird/interesting things people probably don’t know about me.  I’ve been thinking about them all week trying to make up the list.

1. I once believed I wanted to be a protestant minister. It must have been another time I was lost in my life! I can’t imagine that life for me.

2. I am a compulsive reader of current events, human interest stories and news of the weird.  This means I read every newspaper I can get my hands on (inexpensively). If I stumble upon a copy of a NYT in someone’s house, I’m lost to it for at least half an hour. I read online news, I read printed news. I read junk mail. I read advertisements. I read blogs. I live for Wednesdays when I can get my copy of SevenDays which I will read nearly cover to cover. Perhaps this all comes from working in advertising for a newspaper and television conglomerate?

3. I relish speaking before an audience of easily 200 adults, but to stand up in front of 20 first graders really makes me sweat!

4.  I’ve dreamed of a life on stage — singing or playing guitar. An impossible dream founded in a shy person with no musical talent!

5.  My favorite thing is to have friends randomly stop by for a visit. It’s better than asking them over as I don’t fret preparations; I feel special because someone dropped in or swung by; and I enjoy myself  immensely in the company of friends but am usually too timid to ask people over.

And since I’ve been so introspective, I thought I’d toss out my favorite unexpected thing to lighten the mood:

6. Bonus quirky thing:  I once had my underwear returned to me by inter-office mail! Now that’s a bitter break-up!!

Thanks Nikki! It was fun.

MeMeMe Talk

I suppose there is some subliminal message in my writings. It’s probably “help! I’m lost? I can’t find my way!”  Others might hear it. I cannot.

It takes a crowd of voices, mostly in my head, for me to faintly hear anything.

The shouts of my brain, my soul, my psyche have been telling me that what I am searching for is “MY thing”. My thing to call MY OWN.  Sometimes finding the right word for it makes it so much clearer.

Running and training for a half-marathon has been ALL ABOUT ME. It’s been MY Thing.  It’s been good for me.  It feels like the only thing I have and do just for me.

Now maybe that’s just the way it works for a mom. But I think I should have more.

I’ve been fixated on my husband’s unhappiness and utter frustration with work. I get fixated on every up and down of my children’s lives.  While I enjoy being so intimately connected to people, I realize it’s not healthy for me.

I recently used the phrase “imprisoned” to describe my unhappiness stemming from my husband’s unhappiness (with work). I have felt like I can’t settle, grow, spread my wings, relax or be myself for fear that my world will close in on me and we will move.

I’m sure that whole sentence represents a therapist’s onion to help unpeel. I know what it’s about however, so I don’t think I need the therapist.

What I need is something to call my own. I’ve been thinking it’s a job; a way to bring in some money so I feel like we can take an airplane trip w/o dipping into our investment accounts, or so I can buy myself some fun clothes. Maybe a job would give my spouse some security to find his next path.

Is my thing to call my own — a  new career path? Taking design classes? Should I train to be a teacher?

My homework is to try to figure out what MY THING is; MY THING to fixate on. My thing to make good for me.

Time to let go and be free and happy!

Hockey Week 2: She’s Only Nine!

Oh god. It is only the second full week of hockey and it feels like 2 months already.  I can’t imagine even surviving to month two (let alone month FOUR!).

The schedule has been wacky; Wednesday and Thursday practice this week last week tues and weds.  Tryouts were this past weekend. My girl will play on the U12 Girls A/B.  This makes sense, as she is only NINE years old. Haven’t I mentioned this before? She’s Only NINE!

I kept checking the website to see if she would be placed on the A team. I didn’t think it was possible based on her age and the size of the bigger girls, but I AM new to this team, so I was anxious.  the A teams travel MORE than the A/B teams.  So I needed to know if I should start my meltdown this weekend or if I could get a few more things done before it happened.  So, thank goodness, I’ve got more time to go crazy.

The practice schedule this week goes like this. Wednesday 6:15-7:30 in Waterbury.  That’s a forty minute drive from here.  Tack on 15 minutes (min) before and after the practice for suiting up and down and we’re looking at a 5:15 departure and an 8:30 arrival back home. Tack on another 30 minutes, minimum, for the kid to return to earth and chill before hitting the sack.

The next practice is Thursday 7:30-8:40 at Essex. Fortunately, the drive is shorter…just 5-10 minutes.  Tack on the wardrobe change time and the chill-time and we’re looking at a 9:45pm likely bedtime.

Uh, hello? SHE’s ONLY NINE?

Huh? How about a little coach’s meeting with the parents! Oh, and I don’t know who her coach is yet, so I’ve got no one to call and say this is too much, SHE’s ONLY NINE!

For fear of disgracing my child and my family with my protectiveness and attitude, I’ve put Russ onto the task of communicating with the coach..once we know who he/she is.

Hang on tight Julie.  The ride is just getting started.

Hockey Day One: Divide and Conquer

I may have to re-title my blog “tales of a reluctant hockey mom”.  No doubt I will get more publicity.

Yesterday was day one of hockey for my nine-year old. I started the day feeling overpowered and overrun by the sport before I’d barely gotten out of bed.  Practice wasn’t until 5:55pm but already it had shaped the day for the whole family.

First, the soccer jamboree was cancelled due to weather-related field conditions. While this was a godsend, it immediately took out the balance it provided for my children in that they BOTH got to play the sport. They BOTH had their time to be the star in the family.

Second, Olivia had to try on her hockey gear from last year to see what we needed, if anything. In fact she needed  a few items, so we had to put a trip to the store on the list of things to do.

Third, we were invited to a cocktail party at her new-best-friend’s house by her parents. It would start at 5pm.  We wanted to attend as I like these people and they seemed like a good fit for me & Russ…always looking for new “couple’ friends for us.  The first hockey practice of the season starting at 5:55 the same night would mean we “divide and conquer” to go to the party for a little bit, Russ takes Olivia, I stay with Katie and hold our family position; Russ comes back to be polite and friendly, and then we leave again.  This just messed with our whole kharma. I’m not a big fan of splitting up social events for me & Russ.

Divide and Conquer will probably have to be our strategy all season.

And during breakfast, I put all the hockey practices on my calendar and realized that the practice schedule had shifted from Tues & Thurs during “recruitment” talks to Mon & Weds now that we’re all signed up. Whatever. But that means that Katie’s Mon swim lessons (HER thing) now coincided with Olivia’s hockey practice.  As I announced this, Russ promptly said “well, ole Dad’s just gonna have to leave work early and help make all this happen”.

Oh SURE.  This is my little pity party bit.

NOW he’s SUDDENLY available to “help make hockey happen” for his eldest daughter OLIVIA.  I juggle shit every day, I am constantly making sacrifices to get what my children need; I gently suggest my husband take a little time to take the kids to school once in awhile…not for me but for the kids…it rarely happens.  He can’t leave work in time to make soccer practices. He can’t leave work in time to meet me at the farmers market for a little mini date. He can’t come home at a decent hour on a Friday night for family time.

But Hockey season starts and he declares himself HELPFUL.

Yeah, that’s a little pissy.

And then I realize that the second game of the season starts about the same time my half-marathon race starts…in a town 45 minutes away. And I realize that the chances that my family will be able to support me are small.  Or if they come, it now will happen with the baggage of Olivia having missed a game. It doesn’t feel like that’s the way TRAVEL hockey works.

After all this self-pitying resistence of the change that is happening to my family, Olivia had a good practice.  She forgot her jersey. I hope that doesn’t work against her.  Russ said she did well but the kids are noticably older and bigger than her.

We’ll see how this goes.  That’s my mantra. One day at at time.

Sugar = Energy!?


breakfast of champions

breakfast of champions


Last week I had the pleasure of attending the fourth grade hike as chaperone. There were many of us and I was assigned three girls: my daughter, a slow one, and a speedy one.

The field trip was part history walk part hike up Ricker Mountain near Waterbury. It is a fabulous “wike” and I hope to return with my own family or in snowshoes this winter. It wasn’t very hard. Three hours was PLENTY of time.

The kids arrived by bus and the parents by cars. After meeting up with my trio of charges, the slow one quickly sidled up to me while the other two charged ahead. She had lots to talk about. She asked to hold my hand to help her up the train. She was slow. She lacked confidence.

But she was sweet. Not a behavior problem (thank goodness!). Twenty minutes into the hike she asked if she could have snack yet. I suggested we catch up with the other two and eat after that. I delayed the inevitable, as it was still only about 9:30. I asked if she had breakfast that morning. She cheerfully replied, “oh yes! I had a poptart. Actually I had two, because I knew I’d need energy”. Later on the walk, she shared that she ate a lollipop on the bus, “because sugar gives me energy”.

Finally, I relented on snack. The girls sat down. My daughter had an apple. The faster one ate some apple slices, and the slow one? She had a sticky bun (whole wheat, as provided by the school district food service).

No sooner had she finished and we resumed walking did my slow one remark, “I am more tired than before snack!” No kidding. The poor thing was subsisting on sugar, some added vitamins & enriched flours.

I felt sorry for her. I figured her parent/guardian might not have gotten that message quite right about sugar providing energy; he/she might be working multiple jobs and can’t get around to preparing food.

I thought about how her diet was such a disservice to her — not just on this hike, but likely on the NECAP statewide assessments administered earlier in the same week. I thought about how all the teaching of healthy food choices in health classes cannot overcome the influence of available choices presented to her from home; that the modeling of adults in her life have probably left her thinking that a sticky bun and two pop-tarts are appropriate fuel for a day’s hike.

This is the kind of thing that makes me want to get a nutrition/education degree to help children & families.

Sports at 9 Years Old: Competition or Recreation?

I have so much angst on this subject one blog post might not cut it.  The dilemma at hand is where to place my eager young hockey player: the house or the travel team.  If finances restricted us, we wouldn’t have a choice. Although, I know of many “travel” families who really can’t afford travel hockey but would never consider the “house” program for their children.

For the uninitiated “house” is essentially recreational hockey. “Travel” is competitive hockey.  The difference in terms of ice time is roughly double: travel teams beginning around the age of 8 or 9 play about 4 hours/week on the ice.  They play out of town teams; house players tend to play each other in “scrimmages”.

One of the outcomes from having a child in a Travel sport as opposed to a recreational sport is the time commitment.  In our case, Travel hockey would have two evening practices (not a big deal) and two weekend games. The latter is THE big deal.  It means we, THE FAMILY, will not be able to ski together through the season.  Yes, we might get a day or two in together; but there’s no denying that TRAVEL hockey=LIMITED SKIING=LIMITED FAMILY TIME

My nine year old daughter, Olivia, loves to play hockey. She didn’t always. She got the bug when she was seven turning eight. Last year, she wanted to play on a “girls” only team. We looked around and the only age-appropriate team was in Burlington. It didn’t matter to Olivia that she knew no one; this team represented a great chance to play with the girls. It was a GREAT experience.  She had a former Olympic hockey player as one of her 4 coaches. They played teams who traveled to our rink.  It was sort of like “House Plus”; for this family it was perfect.

Now at the age of nine, my dear daughter still wants to play with the girls. She is now in a new school in this same district; one with just fourth & fifth graders…including some girls from the local hockey team.

Her message has been consistently clear: “I want to play with the girls”.  It’s not been “I want to play Travel” or “I want more ice time”.

The decision of which way to go has rested on we parents who try so hard to do the right thing by our children.  Socially, it seems if she’s to play with the girls, we should have her play with the girls from her own town & schools as opposed to driving her to the next town.

Last weekend, we took the family to a family skate event at the local arena, with the intent to get to know some of the other girls team members.  We didn’t really manage to do that. What we did do, was see Olivia at her absolute happiest and most relaxed: skating on the ice.

And so, We The Parents, are going to have Olivia play competitive hockey this year. There is no U-10 team so she’ll have to play with the U-12 girls team.  She is very pleased. I am still ambivalent.

My goal is to support her, protect her, but also to get out of her way; to let her be her.  I hope that when this season is behind me, I’ll feel like this was a good decision.