You just want to say “nut milk bag”

That would be my husband.

I figure the only way I’m going to make it through this made from scratch challenge is gradually introducing alternatives before the new year. Today’s experiment was almond milk.

Almond Milk
Total time to make: 8:15 hours
Active prep time: 10 minutes

Approximately 4 dollars worth of almonds

Take a cup of almonds, soak for 8 hours.

Put in blender with 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp vanilla, 4 cups purified water.

Blend for 2 minutes.

Strain in nut milk bag, (you can buy one at Whole foods with your husband giggling up and down the aisle like a junior high school student), and store in mason jar.

It’s good for 3-4 days.

Sweeten if desired.

Not too shabby and with none of the crap they typically put in almond milk. What the heck is “Natural Flavor” anyway? If it’s so natural, why don’t they have a name for it? And locust bean gum, sunflower lecithin, gellan gum? I guess they sound like natural ingredients but let’s just leave them out anyway. Their product lasts more than 3-4 days and that might not be a good thing.

Maybe this won’t be as hard as I thought.

What do we actually eat?

I guess that’s the first step to figuring out this challenge. What ingredients are required in the house; what do we eat during the day.

Chief: You can’t make graham crackers.
Me: Why not?
Chief: They’re too delicious and the ones you buy from the store are already perfect.
Me: Challenge accepted.

Items needed: oat flower, graham flower, milk. Unless I’d like to make them vegan then I’m making almond milk from scratch first.

Recipe and results to come.

You know that means no Starbucks, mom

I love raising independent, critical thinkers…. Except when they think independently and critically AT ME.

Red Chief is a thinker. He listens, observes, digests and then when you’re not expecting it, hits you right between the eyes. I guess he’s been thinking about our challenge, wondering if he can get me to back down. Out of the blue, he hit me with:

RC: You know that means no Starbucks, mom.
Me: What?
RC: If you have to do everything from scratch, you can’t have Starbucks.
Me: I can’t?
RC: No, you have to make it yourself.

So looks like I’d better set the ground rules sooner rather than later or this kid is going to be all over me. (And I guess I’ll be using that Turkish press I’ve had sitting at my desk.) But at least he’s thinking about it.

It brings up the other issue about juice, (I have a juicer), and chocolate milk. I guess we’ll be coming up with some inventive recipes.

I don’t want to write about hockey anymore

About 6 years into this crazy sport, when I don’t have to think about youth hockey, I really don’t want to think about it. That doesn’t mean I’ve lost my love for it or I won’t jump at the chance to watch a game at any level; it means there is so much nonsense surrounding something that should just be as simple as “drop the puck and let these kids play” that I don’t want to analyze it. By definition, there is no predictability or pattern to nonsense, so why waste headspace to figure it out?

Does that mean I’m done writing? Heck no. Every once in a while I get some grandiose ridiculous idea in my head. So here it is……

The “made from scratch” challenge! My 10 year old is now furious with me and my 5 year old cried, “I don’t want to eat scratch!” Suck it up kids; there are kids in the world that eat dirt pies for food because they have nothing else.

It’s just so easy to grab something convenient – fast food, even if you try the healthier options, or a power bar. Bacon, egg and cheese from the bagel shop is my son’s go to food. (Don’t judge me!)

Inspired by a recipe for biscuit, egg and cheese bites, (I know it is an advertisement for Pillsbury but what kind of crap is in their biscuits and why can’t I make my own), and a recipe for make your own Sriracha, starting 2016 my family is going to make everything from scratch and I am going to blog about it.

A lot of my blogs may be, “My family hates me”, but they’ll get over it. So it’s not a health challenge, well, not really. If you want candy, great, have candy, but you have to make it.

Ground rules to come soon.

Tournament Time

I know I said I would write again, but I’ve been slacking… Ok maybe not slacking as much as extremely busy and reminded how much travel hockey takes over the entire family’s life.

But one of the things we missed, (especially Chief), on our one year hiatus was the camaraderie of the tournaments. Nothing beats being trappedstaying in a hotel with a team full of squirts running around trying to play knee hockey.

Our first tournament was far from uneventful. Our family contracted the 24 hour stomach bug thanks to the 4 year old, who has now been renamed Typhoid Mary, we endured an ice storm, and one of our team families lost their vehicle in a crash. Thankfully everyone was ok, and with the help of one of the other families, their child did make it to the rink on time. (Priorities.) Our boys who had a less than winning record all year came home with the silver medal. So proud of them.

So of course for this tournament, mother nature has scheduled a blizzard. Good luck to us! I’ll let you know how it turns out.

In the mean time, I have a question for you to think about… What are the snacks you like to bring on the road with you? One cannot survive on rink food and vending machines. Let me know in the comments below.

What do you do when there’s no hockey?

Well, it wasn’t “no hockey”, but it was “no travel hockey”. Hockey mom has to keep busy, so what does she do? She runs a marathon or two.

In our year break, I added some NYC and Boston Marathon bling to my collection and may have inadvertently made Red Chief the first hockey player that doesn’t dread the running portion of his conditioning.

But you can’t keep a good goalie down. So we’re back. Red Chief will be in net for a Squirt A team. Travel experience without a lot of pressure. I think he’s going to have a blast because he’s really missed the team environment.

So I’ll get back to posting real soon and he’ll get back to skating real soon and I think the mileage on my car is going to spike again.

Proper tailgating food – Buffalo Chicken Soup

Is running the grill a male thing? When you say dinner party/cook out/picnic, I don’t really care about the main dish; it’s all about the sides with me. So when I was invited to tailgate for the playoffs, (which ended up being in the middle of a monsoon), I wanted to bring something amazing. A quick trip over to brought me this gem of a recipe. I’m attaching the link but I modified the recipe so I will list what I did. And, uh, the amounts are just recommendations, I didn’t really measure anything. And by the way, I’m potentially the worst cook on the planet, (I’m a great baker though), so if I can make this, no excuses for you. Enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Soup

2 stalks of celery – chopped
2 carrot sticks peeled and chopped
2-3 chicken breasts
1 8oz bottle of hot sauce
¼ cup of flour
8oz of shredded cheddar cheese
1 pint of light cream
1 32oz can of chicken stock
¼ cup of butter
1 small Vidalia onion diced

To prepare the chicken, boil chicken breasts in the chicken broth for as long as it takes for the chicken to start falling apart. Remove chicken from broth, (save broth, you will need it later), and shred the chicken using two forks. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a stockpot, add the celery, carrots, and onions. Cook until tender. (For all you cooking newbies, these are the aromatics, the holy trinity of French and American cooking.) You’ll know when they are tender. Just cook it low and slow, and dammit, be patient.

Add the flour and coat the vegetables. (Now we’re making a roux. And if you are lucky enough to know who Justin Wilson is, immediately you say to yourself in your head, “First you take a drinkie, then you make a roux.”, which totally goes with our tailgating theme.)

Add the chicken stock, (remember we saved this, and I actually added more than the initial 32 ounces that had reduced to stretch the soup), and continue stirring until the sauce begins to thicken and all flour lumps are dissolved.

Add the chicken, and light cream and continue stirring to combine the cream.

Turn heat higher up to almost a boil.

Add the hot sauce, and cheddar cheese when the mixture is warm the cheese will help thicken the soup as well.

Serve with crumbled blue cheese on top.

And there you have it. You’ll wow everyone at your next tailgate, if you are willing to share. Once you try it, you might not be so willing.

Let kids be kids….

We forget that sometimes, especially in the hockey world. I have, myself, gotten caught up in the madness to get on the best travel team, find the best elite camp, get the best seed at the tournament. But they’re still only eight years old. And they’re kids, not short adults. Sometimes you have to just let them play and advance at their own pace. I’m not judging anyone that gets caught up either, because I have to remind myself of this often. (Mommy is a little high strung in case you live under a rock and hadn’t figured that out yet.)

This weekend, I took Red Chief to play in the mud – a 5k mudder in Eastern Long Island to be precise. What eight year old boy doesn’t love to play in the mud? We were in the first wave of the morning, and he took off like a bat out of hell. He was a good two minutes in front of me, so periodically I would approach a marshal on the course and ask if they’d seen a short guy in all black with a jolly roger on his shirt. Most confirmed they had, some admitted they really weren’t paying attention at all.

About two miles into the race, apparently one of the marshal’s decided that Chief should not run alone, (and you wonder why we turn into helicopter parents?!?!), pulled Chief to the side and made him sit until mom caught up to him. I came through a clearing in the woods to see Chief sitting on an ATV with a pout on his face; I appreciate your help but you kinda took the wind out of his sails. As the run continued, my previously independent maniac turned into a whiner. (Our old division head for soccer can attest to the fact that when I am around, he reverts to helpless.)

“I can’t do it. It’s too hard. I’m too small.”

Thankfully the other runners started cheering him on.

“Come on, little guy, you can make it.”

Saved me from having to piggy back him for the last mile.

About a half mile to the finish, he got his stride back and we finished. He wasn’t really happy about being covered in mud at the end, but a quick wipe down and an Italian ice seemed to fix everything.

In the car ride home, (because mom’s can never just let it go), I told him, “Remember when you didn’t think you could do it and you wanted to give up, and you felt like this would never end, but you kept going anyway and eventually you got through it and it wasn’t as bad as you thought? That’s life, buddy! Do that every time. Just keep going, you’ll get there eventually as long as you don’t give up.”

And wouldn’t you know it, that kid took the ice for 2 hours later that day in goalie clinic and then finished his science fair project that night. What did you do Saturday?

UPDATE to the BS that is youth hockey on Long Island….

The organization that Chief was a member of is not returning calls to the organization interested in Chief. All they want to know is whether or not he is eligible. I’m half expecting the original organization to toll his contract.

What can you do? I guess we’ll get there eventually as long as we don’t give up.

Red Chief’s Red Shirt year

Red Shirt an 8 year old? That’s crazy talk!

For those of you that don’t know what red shirting, it’s allowing a player to dress and practice with a team but the player may not compete during any of the games for the season.

With three games left in the season, The assistant coach for Chief’s team told me he is such a problem on the bench during the game that he almost got kicked off the bench. My response was, “Why didn’t you kick him off if he deserved it, (or else how will he ever learn), and what what he doing?” He couldn’t answer either of these questions, and of all the coaches Chief has had, this is the only coach that has ever had a problem with him in hockey. (I have my theories – for another day.)

Around the same time, an opportunity to try out with another organization arose. This was a better fit considering I’ve finally given up the fight, he’s in goal full time this coming year. They offered more goalie coaching, and more practices, both on and off ice. So I got a release from the first organization, (btw, I swear leaving the Church of Scientology would have been easier), we figured we’d try out for both just to be safe.

Long story short, the tier 1 goalie of the past four years for the new organization decided to drop down to tier 2. Less travel, I’m not sure I blame them, but there was no way Chief was making it past that. He doesn’t really have any consistent formal coaching. You can just go ahead and blame that on me. And the organization didn’t have enough kids to populate a tier 3 team, so Chief was cut. That’s life.

But we had the first organization to return to or so we thought. On the last day of try outs, the assistant coach said, “You know the way he acted on the bench last year, he shouldn’t even make the team this year.” Again, that the problem was this severe was 1. News to us, 2. Given with no explanation, 3. Not addressed during the season. (Well why the f**k are you a coach if not to help these kids learn how to “play” the game and that includes being a good teammate. I can pay people with a hell of a lot better skills than this guy. Again, I have a lot of thoughts on why my son was suddenly a problem.)

So he’s an alternate for his old organization. That means I can pay full price, he gets to practice with the team, doesn’t get to play in any games. Seems reasonable, right? *beats head against the wall*

I flippantly asked my coach, (who also coaches at Chief’s level for a third organization), if he needed an 04 goalie. He’s a great guy and I trust him. His eyes light up, “yeah!”

Great! I tell him don’t feel obligated to take Chief, bring him down, try him out. If you can’t use him, we’re no worse off than we were before.

I get a call Saturday morning. Long Island Amatuer Hockey League rules, (which is a dead link on their site, btw) says if a kid tries out for an organization and doesn’t make it, he has to return to his original organization, unless he has been officially cut. (The question is now, does alternate count as cut? It looks like no.) Additionally there is a 2 player limit for movement from one organization to another, and this organization already has two players from the original organization.

Do you need a drink to follow this? I do!

So because he wasn’t technically cut and because there are two other players from the original organization that moved over, we have an organization that wants him, where he will get playing time that can’t have him, and we have an organization that doesn’t want him that won’t give up their rights to him.

So the only solution is that Red Chief gets to sit out a year of eligibility. He has no idea this is going on, he’s just happy to get on the ice when I put him on the ice and I’ve been doing clinics, going to add private coaching soon, I guess. It’s not like I’ll need that money for tournaments.

Does anyone else see anything wrong with this? If you ever wonder why Long Island isn’t turning out the number of elite players we think we should, I’m going to point to the fact that by design, they are limiting the opportunities OF AN 8 YEAR OLD! Chief could turn out to be a beer league player or he could turn out to be truly elite. We don’t know at this age. But apparently a couple of people are going to make sure we don’t get the chance to find out. I’m voting myself off the island, at least for the summer. We’ll be doing camp in MA. I just want to get away from here for a while. Meet other hockey people that aren’t so insular.

Any and all perspective on this is greatly appreciated. Maybe he can play in the KHL next year. Russia here we come!

The best worst day of your life

I recently wished my BFF happy one year anniversary — of her losing her job. It was a job she’d held since college; she had worked her way up the corporate ladder to a very respectable position only to be sabotaged by someone that had an axe to grind. (Totally unmerited too. BFFs work is top notch!)

In the span of 48 hours, her world turned upside down and her professional identity was gone. Her personal identity was hanging by a thread. And it’s really hard to see someone you love hurt so much.

I’m a cheerleader. When adversity hits, it’s time to get moving. I want to start making action plans, formulate an exit strategy. We can wallow in self pity later, when things have settled down; for now, there is stuff to do.

Not everyone can deal with that; and I respect it as much as I hate it. She needed to wallow and I needed to take a step back. (Truth be told, it was more like a get the eff out of my face.)

Fast forward a year and she has a fantastic job, she’s just been accepted into a masters program and she and I are back to planning dawn patrol blasting Brand New. What a difference a year makes.

So Red Chief heads into tryout season. He’s didn’t make Tier I already. This is no shock since mommy hasn’t gotten him the goalie training he needs; he’s self taught at the moment. But what a world of difference from last year’s fiasco. He’s still frustrating to watch, (I see his goalie quirks already), but he’s made a ton of progress and keeps moving forward.

And if we don’t make the club we want, it’s ok. In a year, everything will be different. We’re just going to go in the direction the universe takes us, however uncomfortable that may be.

Remember that at your next big disappointment.