July 3, 2014

Flags for sale, get ‘em while they’re hot!

Well, German language camp, as nerdtastic as it sounds, was an absolute blast. I have never seen Linden so exhausted (or dirty) as he was at the end of each day; the kid even begged for us to pay the extra fee so he could stay late, with the kids whose parents worked.

I tried not to take that personally.

One of the things he enjoyed most about the camp was learning about different countries (there were also separate groups for Japanese, French, Russian, and Chinese). I’ll be honest; his favorite part was playing soccer every day during their breaks, hence the filthy clothes. But he did come home all jacked up on knowledge and, as a parent, knowledge is what I had hoped he would gain from the camp.

We have yarded that kid all around the world over the past five years, and if I had to pick the most precious of gifts our experiences abroad gave him it would be an appreciation for other cultures. He’s got it. He’s wonderfully fascinated by people and language and all things places-other-than-home.

And also … he got it from his mama, too.

I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t interested in absorbing anything and everything places-other-than-home. In middle school, I stumbled upon an atlas that contained pages upon pages of flags from around the world, statistics on population and size, and you-name-it-it-was-there. I spent countless hours thumbing through the pages of that book.

When Linden came home from camp rattling off (slightly incorrect) information about where these countries were located, my mom told him she would find an atlas for him and that she would help him find all of these places.

I was shocked to find him enthralled in the very same atlas that had been glued to my hands from roughly 1996 up until I discovered boys.

“Mom, can you help me find some paper and markers?” Sure, Bud.

Hours later, he had a stack of flags nearly an inch tall.

“Those are so cool, Linden! Can I take one to work?” Yeah, but it will cost you five dollars. “Sold!”

Ever our little business man, he asked to sell them at the end of our driveway, with lemonade. Unfortunately, we live in a very quiet, low-traffic neighborhood … in Alaska (where a sunny day is hard to find and cars won't stopping unless you’re selling guns or booze). So …

Flags for sale, get ‘em while they’re hot!

If you are interested in boosting little Linden’s ego, e-mail me hockeywife@adayinthelifeofahockeywife.com, tweet me @hockeywife_22 or leave a comment below. I’ll need your order (state or country flags available) and your mailing address. Worldwide (free) shipping. You are welcome to pay for these masterpieces (whatever you see fit), but the goal is simply to encourage him and fuel his desire to learn more about the world in which we live. And also to keep him quiet while Calder is napping and Mommy is watching The Real Housewives of Orange County. 

When you order, I’ll be sure to tell Linden where you are from and we will learn a few fun facts about your neck of the woods.

Thank you to those of you who kindly placed orders this morning via Facebook and Instagram. I posted that photo with zero expectations and  ... well ... you ROCK!


June 26, 2014

Schießt ein Tor!

Did anyone else watch the USA v. Deutschland game this morning? Me too!
Little Lindybug here spent the entire week shouting German cheers, but when I asked him who he was cheering for today he proudly said, "The USA, Mom! Duh!"

I brought a ton of random "Deutschland" stuff back home, with the thought that Linden might use some of it to decorate his room or for school projects or whatever. It's been in a box since we touched down in late-April, because truth be told, my love affair with Germany is on hiatus. But when the CEO of my company challenged us to dress in our red, white, and blue best today - as the USA took on Germany in the World Cup - I had to dig it all out.

Much to my chagrin, no awards were given to those with the most spirit. What a crock, right? 

(And just so you know, my fellow Americans, I may have been clad in loads of Deutschland attire for shits and giggles, but I wholeheartedly cheered for the U S of A.)

May 28, 2014

Rocket Mommy

Sometimes my husband is funny.

You can check out the video of Linden's "rocket" below. 

Please excuse the embarrassingly unorganized garage, I am still very much in the we-just-moved-five-years-of-crap-half-way-around-the-world-and-I-started-working-full-time-two-days-later trenches. Thank you.

Between you and me, I can't say with any confidence that he in fact "has a cannon at age 5" but he's pretty damn cute don't cha think? And after six and a half years of this roller coaster we call "hockey life" and two kids, my husband called me a "rocket" so I would like to take a moment to celebrate that.

May 23, 2014

in a forever kind of way.

It feels weird to call this place home in a forever kind of way.

Sure it has been ‘home’ for the past six years, but we have spent more time abroad than we have here. I now know my way around Dresden, Munich, and Berlin better than I know my way around these streets. I get lost downtown and at the grocery store.

I catch myself doing things “the German way” on the daily, without even thinking about it. I start to correct myself but between you and me, I kinda like the German way.

I rock my Jack Wolfskin hausschuhe, loud and proud, even though our home is primarily carpeted and our wood floors are heated.

This Ausländer says what she means. English is not so much about what you say, but how you say it. German on the other hand, well, it is ruthlessly and unapologetically efficient. Continually catching me off guard, I often ended conversations by picking my jaw up off the ground. And what do you know? Four years in Germany and I, too, cannot be bothered with the niceties of the English language.

On Tuesday, I caught a woman tossing a plastic water bottle into the trash. I all but tackled her and shamelessly did a little dumpster diving. Recycle, people.

Now if only I could get my hands on a radler or some apfelschorle. I mean what good is a beverage if it doesn’t fizz?

I just don’t want to do some things the American way, and you can’t make me.

As excited as I was to return home, I left Germany kicking and screaming. Odd, considering how our last four months had gone, but true.

The thought of leaving my friends, Linden’s kindergartenthe apartment we called home for three years, the place Calder was born, my favorite bakery, and even Nahkauf (though I hated that place with every fiber of my being) was too much for me to bear. I couldn’t think about leaving without erupting in a full-on sob.

I actually kept track of how many times I cried on our last day … I stopped counting at nine.

I would miss sitting at my table at the Eventcafé, sipping on my latte macchiato with an extra shot and a little Baileys. I would miss being able to hop in the car and drive 170 on the Autobahn, just 45 minutes on the A4 to Kim’s house. I would miss the fresh produce markets and having the ability to walk everywhere.

I would miss our quiet, simple little life.

It is as surprising to me as it probably is to you, but we hopped off the plane at LAX, planted our feet firmly on American soil, and haven’t looked back since. I’ll fill you in on why soon enough (gonna let ‘er rip like I did in the good old days), but what I can tell you now is that we simply are not at a place where we can look fondly back on our time in Germany.

I don’t miss it. I just don’t. Not yet. 

Maybe when Tanja sends me a picture while wine tasting with Kim at the local vineyards. Maybe when Kym posts pictures of her November break adventures to her blog. Maybe when Allison and Clara post pictures to Instagram while drinking glühwein, bundled up at a game in the dead of winter.

Maybe after the dust settles.

Often against my will, I have put a lot of thought into this whole life after hockey thing. I have done my best not to build or hold on to expectations. ‘No expectations’ has been my mantra for the past six years; I literally preach that shit. But somewhere along the road to now, I slipped and unknowingly managed to create an expectation or two.

Calm. Predictable. Stable. Everything hockey is not. Weeks spent feeling important at my glamorous new job. Linden sprechen-ing sie Deutsche at his fancy German school. Weekends full of family adventures and Saturday morning cartoons in English. Too many wine nights with my girlfriends to count; picking up right where we left off.

The truth is that my reality isn’t exactly what I thought it would be and those expectations have been a grade A pain in my ass.

The truth is that life after hockey is busy and messy and the (pardon my French) hockey-related bullshit we are still dealing with doesn’t help. The truth is that I have spent most of my days at work trying to get my laptop to communicate with my docking station and my phone to not go straight to speaker every time I answer a call. The truth is that I have all but whored myself out trying to get Linden off the damn wait list and into the damn German school. The truth is that my weekends pass in the blink of an eye and come Sunday night I am left wondering where my time went and how I went two days without a shower or putting on real clothes and for the love of God, why can’t I manage to catch one episode of the Real Housewives of Orange County? The truth is that I feel a bit like an outsider within my group of friends.

But I am slowly realizing that it’s all okay. It just takes time and a little patience.

Sometimes, in the midst of it all, I lose sight of just how lucky we are.

My life may not be calm and predictable, but I am content right here.

I am happy to be forever home.

April 19, 2014

Quick & Easy Pre-Game Meal

Here's what you need:

200 - 400g   Iglo Crispy Chicken
100g            Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
200g            Barilla Pesto Rosso Sauce
400g            Barilla Basilico Sauce
500g            Pasta (any shape or size will do)

Pre-heat your oven to 220°C (425°) and pour the pasta into boiling water, stir occasionally.

Place the chicken on a baking sheet, spread three (or so) tablespoons of the Basilico sauce on each piece of chicken, and sprinkle a little shredded mozzarella on the top.


Bake the chicken at 220°C (425°) for around 20 minutes. On a good day, the noodles are done cooking around the same time as the chicken.

Mix the remainder of the Basilico sauce with the entire jar of Pesto Rosso sauce in a small bowl.

It's basically the best mixture ever (kinda like a vodka sauce).

Add the mixture to a bowl of pasta and stir, stir, stir.

Place one or two pieces of chicken on top and ...

Guten Appetit!

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.

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 ...

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