April 8, 2014

Mostly gratitude.

I was sure to stock the refrigerator, the freezer, the pantry, and the laundry room with anything and everything the boys could or would need during the first of my three week absence. Meals for days, diapers and wipes for weeks, enough toilet paper to last the rest of the season.

I left post-it notes reminding him of impending doctor appointments and explaining how to use the washer and dryer. I organized and labeled all medicine bottles by symptom, child, and dosage. I added all of my friends as contacts in his phone, just in case he needed a little relief. I even bought a bottle of Jameson, for the nights when he needed a little 'him' time.

After more than 18 hours in the air and 12 wandering around airports, I arrived a little less than human. It was all I could do to demolish a bean burrito (minus red sauce, minus onion, add lettuce, add sour cream) from Taco Bell and pass the eff out.

I managed quick and absolutely necessary trips to Starbucks, Target, and Nordstrom the following morning and had a fabulous dinner with my girlfriends that night. The next day, I ran around town like a crazy person looking for steel toed boots that weren't hideous, a balaclava, and thermal base layers to wear under my arctic gear.

Then it was time to head north. Way north.

The majority of my days started at 4:15 am and ended around 6:30 pm and I worked Monday to Sunday for weeks on end. I don't think I was ever truly awake until about noon, but what my boss doesn't know won't hurt him. I was in bed and asleep by 9:00 pm, without fail.

My first night at the camp was interesting. I was so exhausted by the end of my first day that the minute my head hit my pillow, I was out cold. I awoke around 1:00 am, shivering. While half asleep I attempted to mess with the thermostat in my room. Fail. It was set at around 61 degrees but considering it was -57 outside, it felt more like ... freezing. I climbed into my arctic parka and tried to go back to sleep. Don't worry, I managed to set the thermostat to 72 in the morning.

Nothing prepares you for arctic temperatures. You can feel it in your bones, even when you're inside, and it takes days for your body to adjust.

It doesn't sound like much fun, and the expressions I receive when recounting my experience are generally a mixture of 'and you're excited about this job because ...?' and 'mmm, no thanks'. But I swear to you, I enjoyed nearly every second of it and the paycheck more than made up for the few that weren't so enjoyable. It was new and exciting and for so many reasons, I have to say it was special.

Frozen tundra. Wild creatures. Rich culture. Big money. Power politics.

The North Slope of Alaska is a special place. It just is. And I am one of a few (thousand) lucky enough to experience it because I work in the oil and gas industry.

Waves of mixed emotions washed over me throughout my trip. I was excited to be there but my heart was halfway around the world. The ten hour time difference, my intense schedule, and my husband's crazy hockey and physio schedules made it next to impossible for us to connect. Thank God for Whatsapp, it made those three long weeks without my whole heart bearable.

The boys experienced a few minor hiccups. The green blanket was accidentally left in the parking lot for an hour, Calder (or Wild Water as we call him) destroyed his crib in an effort to escape, and due to a three hour delay at the hospital while my husband was being fitted for a knee brace, Linden (the pirate, it was Fasching, duh) had to be rescued from kindergarten by my husband's teammates before closing time. They won him over with pizza and donuts. 

Sometimes, hockey players aren't so bad.

For the most part, it was smooth sailing. My boys were amazing. Especially the big one. 

I was greeted at the airport by Linden doing a full-on, long-distance, movie-style run to me. Biggest hug ever. Calder waddled up to me and put his arms in the air. I picked him up and he smacked me across the face - his way of saying he loves me.

Ah, home.

It has been months since my husband's injury and we have both had a lot of time to think and feel. The uneasy and the anxious and the heavy continue to subside and are slowly replaced with acceptance and gratitude and hope.

Mostly gratitude.

Without a doubt, our transition into life after hockey would be remarkably different without the security this job provides. Financial stability, health insurance, retirement benefits, and a handful of other things I am told grown ups value. More than security though, it's ... it's something to look forward to as I pack five years of memories into boxes and say goodbye to a place that will forever be a part of me. It's something to keep me from dwelling on the parts of moving on that will challenge me in the months to come as we adjust to our new life.

None of this is easy, it's a lot of change all at once. But our hearts are more than grateful for all of it.

Change is good. Change is healthy. And we are (mostly) ready.

There is still a possibility that my husband will play one more season at home. There is still a possibility that this upcoming year will be more of a transitional chapter rather than a brand new one. There is still a possibility that my husband will accept a coaching position in some random city and everything we thought we would be doing will fly right out the window again.

Anything is possible, really.

So our plans for the not-so-distant future aren't set in stone, and I kind of like it that way. The hockey life has taught me many lessons; the most important is that nothing in life is certain.
As everything else seemed to fall apart, this one thing came together. Someone, somewhere was guiding us, albeit not so gently, into life after hockey. - See more at: http://www.adayinthelifeofahockeywife.com/#sthash.ANbcoQfP.dpufAs everything else seemed to fall apart, this one thing came together. Someone, somewhere was guiding us, albeit not so gently, into life after hockey.
As everything else seemed to fall apart, this one thing came together. Someone, somewhere was guiding us, albeit not so gently, into life after hockey. - See more at: http://www.adayinthelifeofahockeywife.com/#sthash.3AIhMolp.dpuf
As everything else seemed to fall apart, this one thing came together. Someone, somewhere was guiding us, albeit not so gently, into life after hockey. - See more at: http://www.adayinthelifeofahockeywife.com/#sthash.ANbcoQfP.dpuf

April 1, 2014

... into life after hockey.

We have talked about it countless times and it has never been a comfortable conversation. Not for me. I feel a pit in my stomach; a desire to assume the fetal position and sing lalala while plugging my ears to avoid participating or hearing the other side. I feel uneasy and anxious and heavy.  

My reaction isn't out of fear. It's ... it's something else.

I have always carried this tiny bit of resentment with me everywhere we have gone. My husband. Hockey. His dream. He has given me more than I could have possibly asked but he also forced me to sacrifice and walk away from things I worked for, my dream.

I never imagined that over the years his dream would in some ways become my own.

I didn't expect to fall in love with life overseas. I didn't expect to fall in love with the game of hockey. I didn't expect to fall in love with being a stay at home mom. But I did.

When we talked about the end, it was always in the abstract. This chapter will end, a new one will start. Yada, yada, yada. It was all in the distant future, years down the road. It wasn't real.

Until this season.

He went into it confident it was his last. I went into it in the fetal position singing lalala while plugging my ears.

I stayed there until December, when reality backhanded me across the face.

A lot of craziness surrounded us at that time and we realized that if we were going to salvage what little sanity still remained, changes had to be made. He made his plans. I made mine; I had stumbled upon a job opening with my former employer. I wasn't sure I wanted or even needed the job, but I submitted my resume. Within days, our wheels were in motion and it was all coming together. We started to feel a sense of relief and maybe even a little excitement.

Unfortunately almost all of it came to a halt when my husband tore his MCL. Suddenly our days were consumed by physio appointments and trips to the hospital. We hardly had time to dwell in the disappointment of it all.

But it wasn't entirely lost on me.

I was headed for another round of uneasy and anxious and heavy ... because he was done. His plans fell apart, he was facing a long recovery, and he wouldn't be coming back. It meant the end of the season and more than likely, the end of his career in professional hockey.

It wasn't in the abstract anymore. It was real.

The chapter I was clinging to was coming to an end and it was time to start writing the next one, ready or not.

The job I wasn't sure I wanted now seemed almost necessary.

Fortunately, the opportunity was mine if I wanted it. 

As everything else seemed to fall apart, this one thing came together. Someone, somewhere was guiding us, albeit not so gently, into life after hockey.

We talked it over and agreed that I should accept the offer. I couldn't leave my husband to fend for himself for the remainder of the season, but we had to make this work. 

We decided that I would make a quick trip home to meet my new team and complete any necessary training, then they would wait for me to finish out the remainder of the season in Germany. 

In late-February, I said goodbye to my boys. I boarded a plane. And I cried my little eyes out.

(Travel Tip: If you want a row to yourself, be a blubbering mess during the boarding process. No one, I repeat, no one will want to sit by you.)

I spent the twelve hours it took to get from Frankfurt to Seattle and the better part of my nine hour layover trying to compose myself. I am not kidding. It took that long. I was that distraught.

I frequently joke about needing a break from the boys. Admittedly, there are times when I am not joking - sometimes I really do need a break. But I only ever need a couple of hours to myself to recharge. Then I miss them. I crave them. My whole heart is missing when I am not with them.

I have only left Linden for just two nights, and I was only an hour away. I have left Calder for one night, again just an hour away. And it nearly killed me.

This time, I left them for three weeks. And I was a world away. Legitimately.

I basically went to Mars.

Stop by tomorrow for more on our next chapter and my trip to Mars ...

February 21, 2014

A house divided.

Today, we are a house divided.

My husband and Linden are cheering for Canada. Calder and I are cheering for the USA.

Who are you cheering for?

February 10, 2014

Any kind of reaction.

It takes a lot to get a reaction out of my husband.

Any kind of reaction.

He is the epitome of cool, calm, and collected ninety-nine point nine percent of the time. The problem is that sometimes his laid back nature is perceived as disinterest. I hear it all the time, "Oh, he didn't seem very excited about that ..." or "Wow, I am really surprised he doesn't care about this ..."

I, too, am often disappointed by his reaction (or lack thereof) to random things. I'll share a story and he will give a nod, or a smile, or some small acknowledgement that he knows I am speaking. But that's it. I am left going, "Isn't that sooooooo funny? Isn't that sooooooo annoying? Isn't that soooooo anything? Isn't it? Huh? Huh? Huh?"

Most of the day to day things I find interesting are of absolutely no interest to him. On the surface those interests include (but are not limited to) reality television, celebrity gossip, and what kind of poop Calder had that morning. Not exactly man-friendly topics, I'll admit. And I know I lose him in my storytelling, which usually consists of long, drawn out, detail oriented rambling in which I get lost a time or two and have to pause to remember where I was going to begin with and bring it back in. You're here, so you feel his pain. In all honesty, I don't blame him for tuning me out at times.

But give a girl a break, I mean ... So fine, he doesn't care that there's a Kimye wedding on the horizon. Can't that girl get a, "Oh, that's interesting" now and again? There are times when I literally pick a fight over nothing (and I mean no-thing) like a 16 year old girl just to see if I can ruffle his feathers. Nine times out of ten? ...  Crickets.

As you know, the past five weeks or so have been a little chaotic; no shortage of things to do and places to be and people to see. While juggling 982,342,038 balls and wearing just as many hats, I unfortunately haven't had much time to ruffle his feathers or fill him in on the fact that rumor has it the Kimye wedding has been moved to May.

I have, however, spent an enormous amount of time at the rink. Primarily for Linden's hockey practices. He's been skating two to three times each week for about two years now. They offer a wonderful "bambini" program here. The instructors are so good with the kids and you can't beat the price. I think we pay around 40 euros for the entire season. Yes, those of you in the US and Canada read that correctly. Forty euros. Entire. Season.

Now, my husband has had his ass firmly planted on our couch (with the exception of physio, of course) ... doctor's orders. So the responsibility of taking Linden to and from hockey, and helping him with anything in between, is on me.

Over the past five weeks I have learned that forgetting Linden's water bottle will result in tears. I have learned the green jersey brings him better luck than the red jersey during his "games" (mini scrimmages). I have learned that he needs a snack between kindergarten and practice or he will crash and burn thirty minutes in. I have learned that the snack shack is closed on Wednesdays and I therefor hate Wednesday hockey practices. I have learned which piece of equipment goes on over and under the rest. And I think I can get him dressed in four minutes flat and that's probably a world record, I'm just saying.

So anyway, it's been me and the kid.

I get the basics of hockey. But that's where my knowledge of the sport ends. I couldn't tell you how Linden is doing compared to other kids his age or in his group. There's a mixed bag, for sure, but they all seem to be better than the other at one thing or another. I understand the skills and concepts they are learning but I can't tell you if they are registering with Linden. I see him do things here and there that catch my eye but I can't tell you if they're good or bad. Should he be using the edges of his skates that way? Can't tell ya. Should he be crossing one leg over the other like that? No clue. Is that the right way for him to be stopping at this age? Your guess is as good as mine, if not better.

My husband asks how he is doing all the time. I tell him how much Linden is learning, how hard he is working, how well he is listening, and how much he loves playing. But then ... crickets. I don't know what I expect from him, but I guess it's more than what he's been giving.

To an outsider, it would probably seem like he doesn't care. Between you and me, I think what it comes down to here is a fear of caring too much. He doesn't want to allow himself to be too ... anything. He doesn't ever want to be that parent. So instead of showing his pride or his excitement, he puts it away. He doesn't want to go there, and I understand that.

But then I think, it wouldn't kill him to show a little more ... enthusiasm. Hockey isn't everything in life, and it shouldn't be, but it's pretty damn close to everything for our five year old. It's all he talks about. It's all he thinks about.

He has developed a genuine love for the game of hockey, the kind of love you can't force or teach.

I am very, very proud of Linden. I tell him that every day. But I want my husband to be proud too. Scratch that. I know he is proud. What I want is for him to show that he is proud. Because me telling Linden how great he is, well it's fine and dandy, but when it comes to hockey my opinion isn't the one that is going to matter to him.

Last week, one of the other parents told me that there was a small hockey "tournament" of sorts taking place on Saturday morning, in place of regular practice. There would be kids from other cities in our area, teams would be formed, kids would have shifts (or turns, really), and the games would be timed and refereed. Linden was over the moon excited.

It's not easy for my husband to get around these days. He hasn't been able to drive and has a hard time sitting in a car, he's got a knee brace that looks like some kind of torture device, and it's not comfortable for him to stand or sit for too long. But he could see how excited Linden was for his first tournament, and come hell or high water, he was going to be there.

So bright and early on Saturday morning, I got all three boys up and going. Albeit we were twenty minutes late (as we are to most events), but we were there. All of us.

And it was cancelled. Or moved. Or maybe it never was to begin with. Who knows?

Regular practice was being held, and there were a whopping two kids in Linden's group.


I was so disappointed, and not because there wasn't a tournament or even because Linden was let down, but because I thought for sure that my husband would ask me to take him home. It's hard enough on him to be out and about, he wouldn't want to stay and watch Linden putz around with two other kidlets.

But he did.

And let me be the first to say, sometimes I underestimate this man, because his reaction was priceless.

He stood at the glass, for an hour and a half, without moving. A smile plastered to his face.

I swear I saw tears start to well up as he shot video with his phone. Not crocodile tears but the kind of tears you know you got when you watched the Budweiser/Puppy commercial during the Super Bowl. You know, the misty ones. And it was the sweetest, most heart-felt reaction I have seen in a long, long time.

The rest of the day, all we heard out of that hubby of mine was how proud he was.

He is proud of his little boy, and his little boy knows it.

February 7, 2014

A home of their own.

Today I am doing something out of the ordinary. I am sharing an article from the Oregonian. It caught my eye on Facebook tonight. Every part of me wishes I could do something to help reunite this family; to give them a safe, stable place to grow together. I am not in a position to take them in, but maybe one of you can help in some way. I urge you to continue reading and to share their story.

A home of their own: These five siblings are looking for a family to love them all

Joseph, Faith, Jesse, Alexis & Jayden: A home of their own.jpg
These five siblings range in age from 12 to 1.

Special to The Oregonian By Special to The Oregonian
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on February 05, 2014 at 1:34 PM, updated February 07, 2014 at 9:05 AM

These five siblings have shown amazing resilience in their short lives. Joseph, Jesse, Faith, Alexis and Jayden each have their own distinct personalities with diverse, lovable qualities. The hope is for them to have a family where they can all be together again.

Joe, 12, is rambunctious and competitive. He loves to play soccer and build things, particularly with Lego’s. Joe would thrive with a patient family that supports his involvement with sports and advocates for him in school.

Faith, 7, is playful, charming and creative. She finds joy in arts and crafts and being around animals. A bit guarded, it might take Faith awhile to warm up and trust future caregivers. Gentle and persistent caregivers would be a wonderful match for Faith.

Jesse, 6, is bright-eyed and happy. He is energetic, curious and loving and has responded very well to rural living. Jesse adores animals and currently enjoys feeding the dogs and helping with barn chores. Jesse does best when he has an outlet for his unlimited energy.

Alexis, 5, is active, affectionate and outgoing. Like Jesse, she also thrives in country living and loves spending time outside. Playing with dolls, trucks, riding bikes and cuddling are some of her favorite activities.

Jayden, 1, is alert with bright blue eyes. Filled with lots of love, he enjoys cuddling and giving hugs and kisses to those he knows. Easy going, as long as he has a snack in hand, he loves exploring the world around him.

This sibling group has experienced a tremendous amount of loss. They need a family who can be present to support them through this new chapter in their lives, providing individual attention and active supervision as they adjust to living together again. While five children is a big challenge, prospective parents will be surrounded with the love each child has to offer.

If you would like more information on these children, please contact Angela Elliot at aelliot@boysandgirlsaid.org or 800-331-0503.

February 6, 2014

Ain't no mama got time for that.

Though I don't enjoy the bitter cold at 8 o'clock in the morning, walking Linden to school is typically the highlight of my day. We have the best conversations about the most random things and he cracks me up. It's also an opportunity for me to check in with him and listen to whatever is on his little nugget mind without interruption. Have you been having fun at kindergarten? Who do you like to play with the most? What do you like to play? How do you feel about this? And that? Are you excited to go home? What are you excited to do when we get home?

Those fifteen minutes allow me to feel connected to him and I hope that our conversations show him that what he thinks and how he feels matters to me.

I'm good at that. I'm that kind of mom.

I spend quite a bit of time with both of my boys every day, but most days it feels like we're always on the go. I do my best to make time for them together and individually, but there are times when I feel like I could or should do more.

You would think that as a "stay at home" parent, I would have all the time in the world to do oh say ... thoughtful, involved, hands-on, create something incredible, one-on-one activities with the boys. But in reality, ain't no mama got time for that! If it's not school, it's bambini hockey. If it's not bambini hockey, it's my husband's hockey ... or physio (which we have to drive him to and from). If it's not my husband's physio, it's a doctor appointment or errands that must be run or chores that won't do themselves. There just isn't enough time in the day for me to be Supermom.

That, and I simply hate artsy and craftsy activities. I have never, ever been good at them.

I actively avoid Pinterest because instead of inspiring me to create a snowman out of nothing more than a q-tip and a popsicle stick or to pick up a leaf on the street, paint it, and make it into something worthy of a frame, it gives me anxiety and makes me feel like a complete failure as a parent (at least in that aspect of parenting).

I am certain that I am not alone in feeling less-than as a parent because we don't do thoughtful, involved, hands-on, create something incredible, one-on-one activities that everyone else seems to have the time and energy and patience and desire to do.

Some of us just aren't that kind of mom.

And the thing is, I don't think my kid is that kind of kid either.

See, I was kind enough to pass along my control-freak-perfectionist-obsessive-compulsive nonsense onto Linden. He tells you what to do and how to do it and not in a helpful way. He quite literally tells you how to play with him, his way. His way or the highway. He does it with the kindest, most gentle heart ... but he does it. And it's annoying.

I also passed on my inability to be creative and artistic.

So, a few weeks back, when Katja asked if Linden and I would like to participate in an arts and crafts project with a handful of his classmates and their parents, my initial reaction was: PASS. Nope. No thanks. Not us.

We're not those people.

But as our time in Germany comes to an end, I am making an effort to say yes to things I wouldn't normally consider. I am trying to take a few more steps outside my comfort zone. I am attempting to make a few more memories. I am telling myself that it's now or never.

Yes. We would love to participate. Thank you.

So yesterday, with seven other kids and seven other parents, we sat down at a long table covered in foam board and scissors and tape and glue and stencils and empty yogurt containers.

I was filled with anxiety. I knew how this was going to go down. Linden wouldn't know how to use scissors or trace stencils or color because I have failed him in that way. Everyone was going to look at me with disapproving eyes as Linden and I waged a battle of wills against one another over who was doing it right and who was doing it wrong. I would get frustrated. He would cry. Our little floating whatever-these-are-called were going to suck.

And then, the funniest thing happened.

As Katja explained the project to the group, Linden sat straight up in his chair and listened intently to her every word and watched her every move. 

When it was go-time, I asked him what colors he wanted to use. He told me I could choose the yogurt container colors and he would choose the foam board colors.

If I trace the shapes, Linden, will you cut them out? Sure, Mommy.

I handed him the first set of shapes, he picked up the scissors, and off he went.

He was quiet and focused and he knew exactly what he was doing. He was good at it.

This was not his first arts and crafts rodeo.

The hour we spent making those whatever-these-are-called was one of my most favorite hours.

I saw a different side of Linden. I saw the side of him that is willing to share, open to compromise, and able to relax. I saw a Linden who was confident in his German. I saw a Linden who enjoyed arts and crafts. I realized that Katja is more than making up for my deficiencies as one of those moms.

And I was so, so proud of my first baby.

January 21, 2014

And here, I feel home.

Years ago, as we prepared for our move to this sleepy little town a world away from our forever home, I asked a friend who was living here if he could recommend any team apartments for our family. He suggested this place. At the time, all we knew was that it was across the street from the train station and the grocery store.

It's hit or miss with team apartments and that's the way it is no matter where you go. We have lived in apartments I prefer to forget and we have lived in beautiful apartments that I never wanted to leave behind. But they all have one thing in common: most of the furnishings that fill the apartment don't belong to us. They belong to the team. They are things that other families have used and loved and left behind that we have inherited.

When we arrived, I literally dropped my bags, collapsed, and passed out on our bed, which at the time was covered in hot pink and blue paisley print sheets. Those had to go. The next morning I wandered through the apartment, checking everything out. The team had done their best (a great job, in my opinion) to give us everything we might need, and then some. Still, it was very um ... old-school German (is that a thing?). Curtains only an Oma could love. Fake plants everywhere. I promptly returned those to the team storage facility. Most of them, anyway. I kept a few because when I catch a glimpse of them as I enter or leave a room, they make me laugh and remind me of our first day here. The cutlery was a hodgepodge. No two plates were the same. None of the furniture matched. It was well loved, much of it on its last leg.

Three years in and it still isn't much to look at. There is little room for company. No bells and whistles. It is dated and nothing inside matches. It is humble, to say the least. But Linden's earliest memories of home will be here. When we left the hospital last year, this is where we brought Calder. This is where our family found stability and comfort and love and ... each other.

After six years of living the hockey life, 'home' to me isn't really a place anymore. It's a feeling. And here, I feel home.  


Apartment Tour by Slidely Slideshow

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