Monday, December 29, 2008

I love my iPod!!

My MIL got me an iPod Nano for Christmas... an ORANGE one at that. :) I spent a few hours ripping songs from Hubby's and my CDs over the past couple of days and now have 93 of my favorite songs at my beck and call -- with space for many hundred more!! Woo hoo!!

The 93 songs that are currently on my ORANGE iPod are quite an eclectic bunch... country, rap, R&B, rock, pop, blues, and metal. With a few exceptions, the song or two I took from each CD was/were the only song I REALLY liked from that CD. So cool that I can create one big "album" of my favorite songs... one that isn't available in ANY store!!

Some of the recent songs that have played on my ORANGE iPod:
All Summer Long, Kid Rock
You Give Love a Bad Name, Bon Jovi
Layla, Derek & The Dominos
Down with the Sickness, Disturbed
Faithfully, Journey
She Thinks my Tractor's Sexy, Kenny Chesney
Home, Doughtry
Just Lose It, Eminem
Every Rose Has its Thorn, Poison
I Heard it Through the Grapevine, Marvin Gaye
Last Dollar (Fly Away), Tim McGraw (also the ringtone on my phone, FYI)

My current breakdown by genre is Blues (12), Country (54), Hip Hop/Rap (6), Metal (5), Pop (1), R&B (4), and Rock (11). OK... so it's still heavy on the country, and within that, it's very heavy on Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw. But I still have some more CDs at the office to bring home and go through.

And Hubby got me a speaker thingy to hook up to the ORANGE iPod, so that'll be great for the office.

I'm off to browse iTunes... I have a gift card to spend!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas to all who are reading this little blog! I am sitting here watching Keeper Boy and J-Mav play with the Wii Santa brought them for Christmas. They were so surprised that Keeper Boy almost started crying. He said, "I was just hoping for a DS; this is AWESOME." I say Christmas through the eyes of children is amazing.

Our three-year-old nephew (JGS) is here, as are my sister-in-law (Jenrie) and mother-in-law (GmaG). JGS tore through his gifts and screeched in delight with almost every new treasure he ripped open. So fun.

Two and a half hours after we started, the chaos ended and it looked like Toys R Us had barfed in our living room.

We've talked to both of Hubby's uncles, my parents, and my brother. Jenrie also talked to her parents and sister. And the best call of all was when my brother-in-law (Hubby's little brother) called from Iraq. We all had a chance to talk to him for a little bit. The only way it would've been better, of course, is had he been here in the living room talking to us. I thank him and every other man and woman who is serving in our armed forces so that I (and all other Americans) have the freedom to celebrate whatever holiday I choose to celebrate.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

And then I could breathe...

Last night was at once the one of the most amazing and nerve-wracking experiences in my ten years of motherhood -- perhaps in my life. Keeper Boy had the amazing opportunity to skate on the ice at the Verizon Center and defend the same goal as many legends of hockey have defended. He participated in the finals of the Washington Times Youth Hockey Shootout, sponsored by the Capitals. I wish I could say that I remember every little detail and can repeat it to you here. But, alas, much of the evening is a blur to me. I'll relay what I remember...

We arrived at the Press Entrance at the prescribed time of 6:30pm. Keeper Boy's teammate arrived at the same time. We all signed in and the unfortunate guy assigned to security unzipped Keeper Boy's and his teammate's bags and checked to make sure there was nothing in there but stinky adolescent hockey gear. Check. A Capitals staffer escorted us down the stairs into the bowels of the arena.

A funny side note: As we were going down the stairs, I had this weird feeling like someone was behind me. I finally turned around and there was Slapshot (the Caps mascot) decked out in a Santa suit and hat stalking me down the stairs with his arms raised over his head like Frankenstein. The kids got a kick out of that.

We got to the bottom of the stairs and started turning corners and going down halls. It's a good thing we had an escort because I have no clue where we were going. A photographer took a picture of the kids with Slapshot and then they all took off running down the hall. Hubby asked where the kids were a second later. I said, "Don't worry, they're with Slapshot." Only we would be okay with a seven-foot eagle in a Santa outfit watching our kids as they're running around the underbelly of the Verizon Center.

Anyway, when we arrived at the locker room the kids had been assigned to (after passing the practice court for the Wizards and Mystics), Slapshot was there (with the kids... not to worry). Keeper Boy unpacked some of his gear, and the coordinator gave us the instructions for when and where to meet. Then they took us upstairs via a super-secret stairwell, we got our Alex Ovetchkin bobblehead giveaways, and proceeded to our awesome seats on Section 104.

Most of Keeper Boy's team came to support he and his teammate (C.). Coach was nice enough to cancel practice... and he and his fiance came, too. Keeper Boy also had his own personal fan club in attendance. In addition to Hubby, J-Mav and me; my parents were there; my BFF and her Hubby, kids, and mom (Nanya) were there; and the family of one of Keeper Boy's teammates from his team last year was there. Oh, and we had friends who are season ticket holders sitting two sections over with two of their friends, so the inaugural meeting of the Keeper Boy Fan Club was 18 strong.

Only five minutes into the first period, it was time for Keeper Boy and Hubby to go to the appointed meeting place and head down to get dressed. I tried to concentrate on the game, but I could've made a mean cocktail had I had a cocktail shaker sitting on my knee with as much as my leg was jittering up and down.

The first period ended and all the sudden Keeper Boy and C. (and the two kids from the opposing team) were up on the Jumbotron. They had taken headshots just like they do with the NHL players, and put up their names and numbers. And the regular announcer for the Caps was announcing the kids and the rules of the shutout. SO COOL.
  • Three rounds.
  • If tied at the end of three rounds, there will be a fourth round.
  • If tied at the end of the fourth (OT) round, there will be a "sudden death" round. Because the other team won a coin toss and chose to shoot, the Sudden Death round would have the other kid shooting on Keeper Boy. If he stopped the puck, Keeper Boy's team won. If he didn't, the other team won. That's it. They had time considerations so it couldn't go on forever.

The other kids were shooting first. The kid skated down and Keeper Boy skated out to challenge. He had his glove up. The kid shot and Keeper Boy made the save. C. skated down and took a shot. No goal. End of first round: 0-0.

The other kid skated down again. The kid shot wide, and Keeper Boy just had to ensure it stayed wide. C. skated down and took his second shot. No goal. End of second round: 0-0.

Here comes the other kid again. Denied. C. skated down and shot the puck straight at the other keeper's chest. No goal. End of third round: 0-0. We're going to overtime.

Other kid skated down, and I don't really remember what happened, but the puck ended up in the net. Keeper Boy hung his hung just for a second, but then popped up and was ready to go again. C. skated down did a little deke and went to his backhand. SCORE!! End of OT: 1-1. We're going to sudden death. I thought I might throw up.

Remember, now it's all up to Keeper Boy. If he stops it, he and C. win. If he doesn't, they don't. The other kids skates down and takes his shot. Keeper Boy blocks the puck and turtles on it ensuring it doesn't trickle out and go in. RED WINS! RED WINS!! The crowd goes wild!!

Well, I don't know if the crowd went wild. I didn't notice much about what happened during the five minutes Keeper Boy was on the ice, other than what he was doing and what C. was doing. I didn't even realize that Hubby was on the visiting team's bench the whole time until we were home last night. I know the 50 or so people that were sitting right around us that were affiliated with Keeper Boy's team went wild, and our friends that have season tickets who were sitting in Section 106 went wild. That counts as a crowd. And they went wild. So there.

Keeper Boy and C. and their dads came back to the seats part way through the second period to appropriate applause and cheers and they were all grins. I think Keeper Boy (and Hubby) were still grining in their sleep last night. What an awesome experience.

On the way home from the game, Keeper Boy said that he really hadn't been nervous, but that he was aware of all the people (quite a few thousand more than he's used to at a typical travel hockey game), that he'd had fun, and that he'd totally do it again. He was interviewed by a camera man after he was done. Who knows what the Caps will do with that footage. But it was cool. There was a photographer there who is going to send us all of his photos. I can't wait to see them!

I was so happy and excited and proud for Keeper Boy. Outwardly he seemed very non-chalant about it. Calm as a cucumber. He went out there and he did his thing. And he ROCKED THE RED!! But Hubby said the enormity of it all seemed to have hit him a little bit afterward... that he looked like he was ready to cry when the cameraman was interviewing him. Like I said yesterday, for a kid who dreams of playing in the NHL, I can only imagine how exciting last night had to be for him. And I'm glad he had the opportunity to experience it. Who knows, maybe he WILL play in the NHL some day. But the odds are stacked against him. So if he doesn't, he will always have that night when he was 10 years old and he defended the net at the Verizon Center in front of thousands of people (and the Keeper Boy Fan Club)... and won!

As for me, my stomach STARTED to unknot after he made that sudden death save, but it's churning again just writing about everything! I kind of feel like I know might know what Michael Phelps' mom went through EIGHT times in Beijing last summer... I have no idea how she did it. Hats off to you, Mama Phelps -- I'd have had a bleeding ulcer after your son's second race!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tonight's the night!

I can't get that Rod Stewart song out of my head ever since I decided what to name my post this morning! Totally different meaning than my "tonight's the night," but whatever. Tonight is Keeper Boy's BIG NIGHT!!!!

Tonight, at first intermission of the Caps game, Keeper Boy and his teammate, the captain of his hockey team, will compete in the finals of the Washington Times Shootout Finals, Squirt division. The last time Keeper Boy was on the ice at the Verizon Center, it was called the MCI Center and he was standing in awe in front of his favorite Capital, Peter Bondra, as he signed his game-worn jersey over to him. He was, I think, four years old.

Tonight he will stand IN NET on the ice at Verizon Center... a net that has been defended before him by Olie Kolzig and Brent Johnson, as well as visitors by the likes of Martin Brodeur, Dominick Hasek, Roberto Luongo, and legions of others. Holy crap!

He will stand in net and face three one-on-one shots from his opponent. His teammate will take three shots on the opposing team's goalie on the other end of the ice. Whichever team has more shots at the end of the round wins. If it's tied, they each get another shot.

That's it. The whole thing will likely be over in about five minutes. But for this 10-year old goalie who dreams of one day playing in the NHL, it will likely be a memory that lasts a lifetime. Good luck, Keeper Boy... you'll be great!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I spent a lot of time in my car this weekend. Not by design. The weekend started off with promise. Hubby and I got a babysitter and were heading downtown to the Caps game. A date! No kids! Only as this IS NoVA, we got stuck in massive traffic on 66 and missed about five minutes of the first period. Not a huge deal, but we would've rather been in our seats before the puck dropped. Anyway, we had a great time and the Caps won, which was even better.

Saturday was a day of chores around the house, and having our annual family photo taken. Both were accomplished with little fanfare. Late afternoon, J-Mav and I got in my car and headed down to BFF's house for her family's annual holiday party. Only it took us an hour to get there (should take 15 - 20 minutes). Yep, 66 again. Stupid traffic.

Hubby and Keeper Boy headed to the rink for Keeper Boy's hockey game. He was in net. I anxiously awaited updates on my phone while at the party, but none came. I had to wait until they arrived at the party later in the evening to find out that Keeper Boy had a good game and the team won 6-3. Yay! We watched the Caps game at the party and visited with friends we don't alway see very often. A good time was had by all.

This morning, Keeper Boy had a game in Maryland. J-Mav didn't want to go, so we didn't make him. He's been dragged to A LOT of hockey games in his young life, so when he really doesn't want to go, we usually don't make him. He slept in until 9am, so it's probably good that we didn't drag him out of bed at 7 to go. Keeper Boy was on door patrol for the 7-0 drubbing our boys game the team they played. Apparently it was quite the physical game, which is significant only because at the squirt level, there is still no contact allowed... that comes next year, at the pee wee level.

So good hockey weekend on both the kids level and the NHL level (at least for the Caps). Good weekend on other fronts, too. Lots of stuff done around the house and out and about (thus the spending a lot of time in my car comment). And the headache I've had off and on for the past week is off right now. So life is good.

I stil have an awful lot of stuff to wrap before Thursday when my parents arrive and I need to have the guest bedroom set up to be a bedroom and not a dumping ground for Christmas gifts! Good thing I don't have a busy week at work this week... I might have some late nights wrapping gifts!!

Up this week: hockey practice, the end of my deep water exercise class (not that I've gone the past few weeks), the shootout finals at Verizon Center for Keeper-Boy (during 1st intermission of the Caps game on Thursday night), and early Christmas with my parents. Oh and work and the rest of life, too...

And now, it's off to bed. Tomorrow's another day. Ten days until Christmas. Unvelievable!

Something NOT to buy at Costco...

I've been wrapping Christmas presents tonight. This year I vowed to use mostly wrapping paper (as opposed to gift bags as I've done for the past several years). I have several rolls to choose from thanks to a day-after-Christmas journey to Target last year. But I also have... the Costco roll.

About five years ago, I saw this really pretty wrapping paper at Costco. It was a nice shade of red with gold pine trees on it. Lovely. Festive. Perfect. Only it's not perfect. Because I've been using it for FIVE friggin' years and I'm nowhere NEAR the end of the roll. I swear I could've wrapped my house with this stuff and STILL had half a roll leftover. If I never see another roll of wrapping paper with trees on it, it'll be too soon.

So I'm using it. Again. But this is it. The last year. I'm giving it to someone else when I'm done wrapping. Someone else can wrap a zillion boxes with it and then get tired of using it year after year after year. And then maybe in five years I will have gotten over my bitterness and be ready to take it back and finish the roll. Because I'm sure there will still be some left. Seriously. It's THAT big.

And if you see me at Costco on the 26th oohing and aahing over the pretty wrapping paper, just slap me. That should bring me back to my senses.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cleveland Rocked!

We are back from a weekend in Cleveland. Keeper Boy's hockey team competed in the Rock n Roll Tournament and came home champions... complete with individual medals and a honkin' big team trophy! It was a great weekend full of hockey, family, and friends. What could be better?

We left right at rush hour on Thursday night. Once we got out of Virginia, it was smooth sailing... set the cruise on 70mph and got there without incident around 11:30pm -- in about 6.5 hours. J-Mav slept for five of those; Keeper Boy, none. It started snowing when we were about five miles from the hotel. And boy was it COLD when we got out of the car!!

Unfortunately, the kids were up by 7am on Friday morning. We lounged about and waited for Hubby's mom (GmaG), our sister-in-law (Jenrie), and our nephew (Spidey)to arrive from the other side of the state. They arrived around lunchtime, so we decided to head over toward the rink where the afternoon's game would be and find a Subway. It was an adventure, but we did find both the rink and a Subway.

We met the rest of the team at the rink and waited for the first game to start. My college roommate and her two kids (who live in a Cleveland suburb) came, too! Keeper Boy was in net for Game 1, and the team won 7-4 against the team they would ultimately meet in the championship game.

After the game, everyone headed back to the hotel. We took the kids to the indoor pool at the hotel, and then headed to Outback for some dinner. Yum!

Game 2 was Saturday morning with Keeper Boy on door patrol. The team played well and won that game, too. I don't remember the exact score. After the game, the entire team went to The Winking Lizard Tavern for lunch. Great food and great service. Good time! We got to see some of the Army-Navy football game while we were there. Unfortunately, Army didn't look so good, but they sure do have cool uniforms!!

After lunch and a little "hang-out" time, it was back to the rink for a late afternoon game. Keeper Boy was back in net. After a first period in which he faced no shots, it picked up a little bit. The good guys won again, and we went into the championship game as the number one seed and the only undefeated team. We had quite a fan club for this game. In addition to GmaG, Jenrie, and Spidey, my college roommate and her kids came back, Hubby's college roommate and his wife and daughter (who also live in a suburb of Cleveland) came, and a co-worker of Hubby's (who transferred to Cleveland last year) and her husband came, too! It was so awesome to see everyone!!

Most of those who came to watch Justin came to Red Robin with us after the game for dinner. Hubby and I introduced everyone to "crack in a cup" (see previous post) and everyone agreed that Red Robin's gingerbread milkshakes are incredible.

The championship game this morning was at 9am. Keeper Boy was on door patrol. His goaltending partner had a good game, and after being down 2-0 in the first period, our guys got mad and clawed back. It was an exciting game that was tied 3-3 with a minute left in the game. We scored to go up 4-3. Then we scored an empty netter to go up 5-3. The other team scored with less than a second left for a final score of 5-4. Gloves and sticks went flying. To say the kids were excited would be an understatement. It was fun to watch. :-)

We headed back to the hotel so Keeper Boy could take a quick shower and we could finish packing up and check out. We headed back to the Winking Lizard for a quick lunch (it was really good... we had to go back!) and then headed home. We made even better time coming home, getting here in just 5.5 hours!

Great weekend! Not only was the hockey great, but we saw so many friends and family that we just don't get to see enough. Just another good thing hockey has worked in our lives. So for this weekend I say, Cleveland Rocks!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I'm not ready!

Last night I found myself sitting in the school library with 25 or so other parents of 5th graders who were concerned enough about what their children will be learning in their Human and Growth Development class that they showed up for an information session. So what is Human and Growth Development, you may be asking? In layman's terms, that would be sex ed.

Yes, my sweet, innocent, immature Keeper Boy -- who still has a solid (yet starting to waiver just a little) belief in all things Santa, Easter Bunny, and Tooth Fairy -- will, in the next two weeks, have five, one-hour-long sessions on topics ranging from how his body will change during puberty, to male (and female) anatomy, to reproduction and the reproduction system, to STDs, to abstinence. Some pretty heavy stuff for a 10-year-old who thinks girls are "icky" unless they play hockey.

I am not against this at all. In fact, I think it's all well planned and executed. The sessions take the format of a 15- to 20-minute scripted "lecture" by the teacher, a 15-minute movie, and a 15- to 20-minute question session. I figure Keeper Boy can get the real facts in a classroom setting, followed up by discussion at home; or he can get "playground/lockeroom facts" (likely not the same "facts"). I'd prefer the former over the latter, and now is as good a time as any. :-)

So, they have these gender-separated classes, taught by same-gender teachers. Five of them: 12/11, 12/12, 12/16, 12/18, and 12/19. They occur on those days from 2-3pm. Anything strike you about any of that information? How about that the class is over right before school lets out and that the classes, as a whole, take place right before Winter Break. Hmmmm.

Yes, that is by design we were told. The kids are actually told not to discuss the information covered in that day's class among themselves or with anyone until they get home from school and can have a discussion or ask further questions of their parents. The idea behind this is to "shelter" the younger kids in the school from hearing things they don't need to be hearing yet, and to prevent the spread of mis-information among the kids. Good idea in theory. I'm sure, though, that the kids will discuss. :-)

The idea behind doing it before Winter Break is similar. The long break provides more opportunity for discussion between parents and kids, with the hope that the newness of the information will have worn off by the time the kids return to school (i.e., not a lot of discussion among themselves when they return).

Lastly, there is even a reason for doing this prior to Winter Break as opposed to, say, before Spring Break. It's cold outside and the kids are wearing more clothes. Yeah, I laughed, too. But it makes sense. The kids are going to be learing about body parts of the opposite gender and other somewhat intimate things that they maybe never knew existed. There's going to be curiosity and maybe some staring. So it does makes sense in a weird sort of way.

One other thing I think is cool. Each kid will get an index card when entering the classroom. If he has a question during class and doesn't feel comfortable asking in front of everyone, he can write it on the card. The teacher collects all of the cards toward the end of class, even those that don't have anything written on them. That way no one knows who asked a question and who didn't. It also gives the teacher a chance to "vet" the questions. If there is something asked that isn't appropriate to discuss, the teacher will make a statement such as, "if your question wasn't answered, please ask your mom or dad when you get home."

And, if any parents do not want their child to participate in any of all of the five sessions, there is the option to opt-out. Several people last night said they would opt their kids out of Lesson 3 because it includes a frank (scientific, not graphic) discussion about intercourse in the context of what happens one a man and a woman decide to have a baby. We will not be opting Keeper Boy out of any of the sessions.

Now, just because I am in favor of Keeper Boy taking the class does not mean I am comfortable with the potential discussions Hubby and I could be having with him over the coming weeks and months as the information settles in and he has questions. I will answer his questions honestly and to the best of my ability, but that doesn't mean I'll be comfortable doing so!

If you see me walking around with a "deer-in-the-headlights" look over the next several weeks, you'll know why. Wish us luck!

Monday, December 1, 2008


I wanted to write one of those "things I'm thankful" posts around Thanksgiving, but I'm just now getting around to it. Better late than never, huh?

I am so thankful for my wonderful, loving family. I have the most amazing, wonderful, and loving husband. I have two beautiful, intelligent, funny, incredible kids who have an uncanny ability to drive me crazy at any given moment (and I wouldn't change that for the world). :-)

I have the best parents in the world. They are unconditionally supportive and loving. My mother-in-law, too, is amazing. I hear many of my friends complain endlessy about their "monsters-in-law." I truly adore mine. Some things that have happened in her life would completely beat some women down, but she is one of the strongest women I know! My parents and Hubby's mom are all fabulous grandparents to Keeper Boy and J-Mav.

I also have two amazing brothers (one biological, one by marriage) and two sisters (by marriage), an adorable nephew, an amazingly talented niece, three step-nephews, a step-niece, and a great-step-niece!

I am blessed to have such a wonderful, loving, and supportive family.

I have a small circle of great friends, especially my BFF. She and I have been friends for 15+ years and I don't see that ending anytime soon. At this point, she's the sister I never grew up with. I know that if I ever need anything, all I have to do is pick up the phone. She knows (at least I hope she does) that she can do the same.

My doctor tells me I am very healthy. I have lost 35 pounds in the past two years, and I intend to lose the last 10 or so to get to my goal weight... soon! Hubby and the boys are healthy, too. J-Mav seems to have outgrown his asthma. We have been nebulizer-free for two years now! Woo!!

Hubby and I both have gainful, meaningful, and steady jobs that we (for the most part) enjoy. Hopefully I didn't just jinx either of our jobs by writing that. :-)

I know that sounds weird, but hockey is responsible for a lot of good things in my life! Of course, it's responsible for a lot of early mornings and thousands of miles on our cars, too. But it's still a good thing. :-) Hubby and I "courted" at hockey games in college. I was a hockey freak before he met me. If he wanted to see me on weekends, he came to the rink to watch the games with me. Then he, too, became a hockey nut. :-)

Hockey, in part, brought me to Northern Virginia. When Hubby and I were getting ready to leave school, we sent resumes only to areas with a high-tech job market and a hockey team of some sort. That meant we sent resumes to some pretty far-flung places! But we landed here and adopted the Capitals. Hubby started playing hockey, and we have some great friends from the teams he has played for over the years -- many from the very first teams he played with more than 10 years ago!

And when Keeper Boy showed an early interest in playing hockey, we started down the path of no return (and debt). Over the past 5+ years, we have also made some great friends through Keeper Boy's affiliations with various teams, and we've had some great weekend trips to tournaments and, this year, road games as far away as North Carolina! So hockey is good.

I know, I'm getting a little ridiculous now. But I seriously don't know what I'd do without the Internet. I don't know how I made it through college when the Internet was really just gaining popularity and I was one of the first among my high school/college friends who had an email address! Kind of strange to think about that now. I can't remember the last time I wrote a letter to anyone other than John's grandmother, looked up a phone number in a phone book, or done research using anything other than Wikipedia, WebMD, or I mean, I used to have to go to THE MALL to go Christmas shopping! Now I can be done, if I so choose, with a few taps of my fingers. THAT in and of itself is something to be very grateful for.

In all seriousness, though. I am grateful for almost everything in my life. Yes, there's a few things I'd change if I had my choice. But I don't have to look too far to know that my life is good. No, my life is great. And I am so thankful. It truly is just another day in paradise!