Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Miracles on Ice

The United States Hockey team beat the Canadians in a preliminary game at the Olympics in Vancouver. Quite exciting, to be sure, for a hockey family as we are. It is only fitting then, to speak today of our own miracles on ice we have been experiencing during this hockey season of ours.

This is Michael's sixth year of hockey. He began one year after we moved here, at a very old age in 4th grade. Never having skated before, he was placed with a bunch of little 5 year olds, and struggled through learning how to skate, hold, a stick, and manage a puck, all at once. He was determined, had a great "can-do" attitude, and never gave up, no matter how tough it was. By the following season, he was forced into a competitive team, and all hand holding was gone. It was do or die out on the ice. And again, with a positive attitude always in check, Michael gave it his all, and fought for his place on the team.

Though we do not often see that positive attitude at home, he continues to have such an attitude in the locker room and out on the ice. He has remained a positive leader and role model to his fellow team mates and younger comrades. He has proudly worn the Assistant Captain mark on his team jersey. He has scored many a goal this season, which up until now had only been a handful throughout all years combined. He has done his time in the penalty boxes...and yes, we are proud of that!

Despite his years of untiring positiveness, we have never been on a winning team. Until this year.

We have had the best season of hockey ever. The third tier Bantam team, with no one expecting much of us, free from all Hockey Association politics, away from the hockey elitists, and with the best group of boys and parents ever compiled in the history of this planet, and a wonderful coach that focuses on development of skills and of character . Mix all those together in a chilly ice arena and put us anywhere in Minnesota, and you've got yourself one awesome, trophy winning team!

We have been in 5 tournaments this year. In the first two, we just barely lost our first games, but then went on to win Consolation Champs for each, awarding us our first trophies.

The last 3 tournaments? We went all the way, baby. Winning Grand Champions at each. First Place! Us! I have felt like we are The Little Engine That Could, all season long. Winning one game after the next. And those that we lose, taking it all in stride, shrugging it off, and moving on to the next. It has been fabulous. It has been wonderful. It has been rewarding. For all of us....young and old. It has just been so much fun!

We did decide to rope Grandma and Grandpa C into coming to all of the tournament games from now on. Not that we are superstitious or anything, but we have won each tournament game and resulted in Grand Champions each time they are present in the stands. Coincidence? Yes, probably. But just in case, we don't want Grandma and Grandpa letting the whole team down now, do we? But seriously, it has been nice to have had so many games in the cities this season allowing them to be present at such very exciting games (our last championship game was won in the last 3 seconds!!!!). The tournament in Maple Grove brought other family members out to cheer us on, as we were only mere minutes away from Bob's brother's family's house.

This has been a very sweet year, and for the first time since we began this hockey journey, I am not looking forward to it's long end. This is sports the way it was meant to be for kids.....simply fun, educational, and character refining. Without all the political garbage and unnecessary stress of excellence at any cost which we have have experienced in previous years (which just completely sucks all the fun out, by the way), I wish this could go on forever. And with Michael still considering this to be his last year of hockey, it's even a stronger desire to see this season continue just a tad bit longer.

We have been ranked 4th in our district(out of 15, I think), which puts us in very good standing for playoffs which are beginning next week. We get to bypass the first few rounds due to our excellent standings, and will begin playing the second week of March. This will be the last hurrah for our wonderful team of boys/coaches/parents/fans. If you listen hard enough, you just may hear our collective cheers reaching your ears!

Monday, February 15, 2010


Bethany is officially 9 months old.
I didn't realize it until late this afternoon as we were at Playworks with my brother and the twins. Without my camera. Purposely without my camera. So that I could focus on playing with and enjoying my kids. Which, by the way, was entirely accomplished. We had a total blast. And even stayed for cheap (and good) dinner. Then stayed longer for a few arcade games. And talking to strangers. We can't wait to go again someday!

(Here is the best I could do with my itty bitty camera phone:)

Bethany's looking hip.

And she's feeling groovy.

Well, as long as I am holding her or she is extremely distracted.

She loves her Daddy very much.

She loves Jonny. And Alex. And Tubby. And Grandmas and Grandpa.

But me? Well, she screams at me all day long again since coming home from the hospital. It's so hard. But if I had to make a real guess, I suppose she does love me, too.

Happy 9 Month Birthday, Bethany!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pajama Party

Oh my, the day of days is here.......Laura's Birthday Party. How we have waited for this day to come. Being that it was her first ever friend party, we just had to do it up right. So first, we picked a fun theme: Pajamas. Pajamas, pajamas. Nothing better than waking up and not getting dressed on a Saturday. And seriously, what 6 year old does not love lounging around in pajamas all day? None that I have met! And the best part of a pajama party? You get all the fun and excitement of a sleepover type party without the actual "sleepover" part. Haha!

Once we picked out the theme, we made some invitations. Completely cute invitations, if I do say so myself.

We made these with my dormant Cricut machine that I have had for over a year, but have had such little time to use it. Such a shame.

A sweet special invite for the one boy invited to the party. Just to clarify, Laura stated, "He's not my boyfriend, I just love him so much!"

Laura's nasty cold threatened cancellation of the whole ordeal, but after a few doses of Tylenol, and a bowl of oatmeal, Super-Laura was ready for action. PJ's and all.
The kids played games, like Toss the Stuffed Animals to Dreamland, and Lollipop drop.
They visited the spa, where nearly all of them chose to have their nails done by the famous Auntie Erin.
They made pillows. Super-soft, fleece knot-tied pillows. Cuz what's a pajama party without a good pillow? A tip for any of you considering such a fantastic activity at your next party with Kindergartners: out of the 11 little kids there, only one knew how to make a knot prior to this activity. ONE. And she was in second grade. Thankfully, a couple of girls(and the one boy) were quick learners, so we weren't tying all 11 pillows on our own.

After the rather long pillow making session, they all cuddled up to hear a bedtime story given by Auntie Erin. This was followed by an interactive story led by Jonny and Crispy. They had those kids giggling so hard, I was sure someone would pee their pajama bottoms.
And presents. Lots of presents. Lots of crafty type of presents. Perfect for this age.

Finally, the highlight of the party.....(drumroll, please!).......

The Cake.
Cute little pumpkins tucked under a pink polka-dotted blankie, their heads nestled atop squishy marshmallow puffs, no doubt all comfy and cozy in their most beloved pajamas.
Chocolate ice cream with marshmallow ripple suited the chocolate cake quite well. Yes, Laura is our chocolate girl. In fact, while I was pregnant with her, she forced me---a self-proclaimed NON-chocolate person----to eat something chocolate every single day. Every. Single. Day. Though so very strange at the time, her love of chocolate was evident even before she was born....and is easily apparent now. In fact, her present that Papa Don sent her was one of her most favorite. It was a cardboard shipping box filled with chocolate! Does he know her, or what?!?
The party was a success, and we were all ready to just "chill out" with the family pizza party that followed. Honestly, though there were 2 Grandmas, one Mommy, 2 older brothers, (the older sister was smart enough to hide upstairs), one Daddy, and one very capable Auntie who thankfully was well versed in all-things-girly, we were almost no match for these little girls (+one boy). They were loud! And squirlly! And hyper! And, well, insisting on pillow fights! I will choose to believe that it was simply because they were having so much fun.....because it is inconceivable that a bunch of little girls would be more stressful, er, I mean excitable, than a bunch of little boys at a party only three weeks earlier. Right?!? Oh wait...would that mean that the boys didn't have fun at Crispy's party? Oh dear, I think they did. Certainly today, I know Laura did! And that is all that really matters for now.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Celebrating a Miracle

Thinking back several years ago, to a time when we were told our baby most certainly would die before or shortly after birth, given a mere 1% chance of any kind of survival, the risks outweighing any hopes--"so would we like to terminate the pregnancy?" asked of us many times throughout those 4 uncertain months, sequestered to a bed in a hospital, alone and away from my family, though cherishing every minute of the pregnancy because each of those minutes were moments my baby was still alive, all the while feeling a love and a peace and a sense of calm greater than any I have ever experienced before as I was forced to lay it all down and rely solely on God for strength, endurance, hope, and life. "The best of times" in some ways and "the worst of times" hands down, all rolled together. The end result? This beautiful, resilient, spunky 6 year old we celebrate today.

Laura has been looking forward to her birthday for a very long time. Talks about going to Build-a-Bear, having a party with all of her Kindergarten friends, getting lots of presents, having relatives visit, cake, ice cream, games, prizes, decorations, fun, all have pervaded her conversations in the last several weeks. And for this special Miracle Girl of ours, one day of celebration just did not seem to cut it. We had to go for two.

Laura and the rest of the kids were given the day off due to teacher workshops(or something), but we like to think it was more appropriately given in celebration of Laura's Birthday. We filled the day with fun, fun, fun, for certain!

The morning began at Grandma's house (we had stayed overnight after an evening of watching Crispy play hockey at the Excel Energy Center---more on that in a hockey post later). Grandma made a special breakfast of blueberry pancakes......Laura ate 6 large pancakes! This was a huge treat, as breakfast at our house is nearly nonexistent.

We then headed to Build a Bear for the third time in a row on her actual birth date. Though we had driven to MOA, Laura was quite certain from the start of exactly what she wanted, made all her decisions quickly, and was finished creating "Heart" in less than 30 minutes. A new time record for sure. And because she was the only one allowed to make a critter this year, combined with some discount coupons we received in the mail, we ended up leaving the store with a rather nicely outfitted puppy, complete with sunglasses and shoes, all for under $15!! Um, that was a staggering savings compared to our usual three digit receipts from this place!
A special beating heart and "iCarly" music button make Heart unique.

After a stop over at IKEA to grab some pillows for a craft for Laura's party on Saturday(ohmygoodnessthiswassostressfulandtooklongerthanbuildabeardidanditwasonlyjonnyandi
andalliwantedtodowasrunawayfromthatplacescreamingiamgladweareoutofthere), we headed to the Children's Museum with Grandma and Grandpa C to meet out friends, the Smiths, for more than 5 hours of jam-packed fun. We HAD to have Laura's favorite lunch first.......McDonald's Chicken Nugget Happy Meal. She REALLY loves this....seriously could eat it every day of her life if allowed to.
Laura climbed under the table, hiding in sheer embarrassment as we sang "Happy Birthday" to her at precisely 2:50pm. (I think the cold she had awoken with made her uber sensitive today)
We played at the Museum.
So much to do. So much fun.
We could spend days and days on end here.
And no one would complain a lick about that.
Laura's favorite place is the make believe grocery store.
We stayed for pizza dinner AT the museum. Pizza is Laura's most favorite dinner! Pepperoni, all the way!
And besides a seating confusion problem, it was the BEST dinner we have ever had for $2/person.
We had birthday cupcakes.....chocolate, of course!!!

Then we played some more. We played until the museum closed at 8pm. And I am not sure we even played with everything there was to do there.....but it was close. We love the museum.
The kids were thoroughly exhausted as we headed back to Grandma and Grandpa's. So we decided to stay overnight again instead of taking the 60 minutes to drive back home. Laura opened some of her presents. She was so thrilled to get American Girl doll, Molly from G & G!
Then it was off to bed, so that we would be well rested for her party tomorrow. Grandma held the baby until 1am while I cut up fleece for our pillow project. I don't think I would have ever gotten that done without her! Bethany has been extremely clingy since her hospital stay, and I have been unable to set her down at all....even if I am on the floor with her, she still cries and kind of freaks out. I think she is too smart and remembers all the hospital trauma.
It has been so amazing to me to reflect on Laura's life this year and how it all began 6 years ago. Sometimes it all seems as fresh as yesterday, while other times it seems like an impossible story that occurred a million years ago. But daily, even amidst the struggles and challenges, I am so overwhelmingly thankful for this special, unique, loving, creative, brilliant, social, amazing little girl that continues to bless our lives on a daily basis. Whereas once, I couldn't imagine she would ever be a part of our lives, I now can not imagine our lives without her. We just love her so much.

Happy 6th Birthday, Laura!