Monthly Archives: August 2013

A Visit to Hockey Mecca

Last week we took a vacation and headed out on a week-long road trip. It took us through a few hotspots, like State College, PA (We Are…), Punxsutawney, PA (off-season, but Phil is still available for photo-ops), and, ultimately, Toronto.

What else could welcome you to the groundhog capital of the world?

What else could welcome you to the groundhog capital of the world?

If you are not aware, Toronto is the home of that place of all hockey places, the Hockey Hall of Fame. And this was our first destination upon our arrival in town. Yes, we are a hockey-obsessed family.

I have to say that the place is pretty cool. The display outside the entrance was perfect for us as it was all about goalies. There were helmets from various goalies throughout the years and it was interesting to see how they have changed over time. Considering that early goalies wore no mask at all, even the early attempts at facial protection seemed like a good idea (although I could not shake the image of Jason inĀ Friday the 13th).

Inside, there were jerseys galore and more hockey paraphernalia than I hope to ever have stashed in my basement. I did detect a Canada-heavy bias, but, of course, we were in Canada so I suppose it is to be expected. There were some fun interactive activities where my son could take shots from Gretzky and Lemieux or shoot on a virtual goalie. And, of course, there was THE CUP. It was housed in a separate part of the building and was on full display, as THE CUP should be. I almost heard angels singing when we entered the room (no, not really, but it’s a good image, no?).

I have to say, there is something about that trophy that makes it seem to shine brighter or stand taller than I expected. What was really cool was that we found the name of our friend’s father engraved on both the Cup and the Vezina Trophy (Denis DeJordy, Blackhawks ’61 – look him up if you ever head up there). It is really something to see all the names on there and on all of the other trophies on display in the room.

It was a worthwhile trip, even if it took up only a few hours of our vacation. What was even more fun, however, was seeing how hockey is such a part of the culture north of the border. We saw hockey players on buses, on lollipops, and on ice cream. Living in the southern part of the US, hockey can be very hard to find, so seeing it all over the place made quite an impression on my son and further cemented his love of the game.

Check! Now that destination can be taken off the list! Next up? Well, we really want to go on safari in Africa…

I wasn't kidding about hockey ice cream.

I wasn’t kidding about hockey ice cream.

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Working Hard…

“…is fun.”

So said my son after a conversation we had recently about his goaltending lessons.

He is doing some private lessons this summer to keep from getting too rusty and really likes his coach. He thinks this coach is fun and he responds well to him. The result? He works his butt off for this guy.

We’ve been talking about working hard and how that is more fun than “phoning it in.” How when you work hard, you start to notice how you are getting better and you have some success, which is much more fun than half-heartedly doing what you are told and not really seeing any benefit. He seems to be getting it.

The other day he was practicing cello (so far removed from hockey but hopefully contributing to a well-rounded child) and we were breaking down a song that he was having some trouble with. We singled out the section that was most troublesome and he practiced the first line, then the second line, then the two combined, finishing with the whole song from the beginning. As he worked on it and heard how he was improving, he exclaimed “This is fun!”

I agree and I am so glad the he is starting to understand that hard work moves you forward and is how you succeed in life.

Now our challenge is to teach him to balance hard work with reasonable expectations and healthy habits. As he approaches puberty and, in the case of our genetics, the “chunkiness” that accompanies it, we are trying to talk more about healthy eating without addressing weight in any way. He is 11 so there is no need, in my mind, to start down that path. But when he suddenly and randomly jumps on the treadmill to run a little, as he did tonight, I have to admit I freak out a bit.

Deep breaths – this whole raising-an-athlete thing is a learning process. There is so much more information out there now then there was when I was growing up and navigating this myself, but that is not a reason to panic! My husband and I both work out regularly so we are already modeling a fairly healthy lifestyle. Some gentle conversations here and there, with some nudging towards less TV/video game time on the couch is reasonable. But our pizza addiction and fairly regular trips to the frozen yogurt place down the street hopefully also teach him that moderation is key.

Balance… isn’t that what we all seek? I’ve just never tried to teach it to anyone before. Perhaps if I had more of if myself, I’d be better at it.

A work in progress, that is what we all are. And always will be.

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