Category: Soccer

The week in suppers: the mad June dash

goat cheese and tomato tart

*Monday’s menu** Sausages, buns, green salad, roasted asparagus. Ice cream cones for dessert.
*Because** Friends visiting from Toronto! It’s a theme! We planned to BBQ, but Kevin discovered, as he was going to turn on the grill, that we were out of gas. Luckily, everything transferred easily to the stove/oven.
*The usual hurry** The girls had dance. Then there was soccer, and more soccer. And rain. But we got to visit, and my friend brought ice cream and cones for the kids, who were thrilled (we don’t often do dessert, as you’ve likely observed).
*On hosting** I love hosting! I love guests. But if you’re invited to our house, you’ll have to take your hospitality with a grain of chaos. There’s just no way around it. So thank you, guests, for being so accomodating and coming anyway. Mi casa es su casa!

*Tuesday’s menu** Leftover sausage drippings fried with onions, garlic, peppers; tomatoes and leftover pasta sauce added; plus macaroni = one-pot of delicious.
*However …** The original menu was supposed to be something made with puff pastry. I’d neglected to read the instructions on the puff pastry. “Thaw for five hours,” I read with some horror, less than an hour before supper was due on the table. Thus, a quick change in plans.
*More rushing** Yup. I cooked in a hurry, and soccer girl and I ate in a real hurry (the others, too), as we all dashed off to various soccer outings. (Soccer girl and I had to drive all the way to Orangeville. On a school night. For a nasty game that nearly got the kid injured.)

*Wednesday’s menu** Community supper at Conrad Grebel (me); Fun Fair pizza (kids and Kev).
*Scheduling with precision** I biked to a reading at my former residence on campus at the University of Waterloo, and was fed a delicious supper of fish, rice, veggies, and napa salad. Kev drove the kids to the school Fun Fair, where they ate pizza, freezies, and candy. After the reading, I biked to the school, so Kev could drive the girls to a rehearsal for their dance recital on Saturday. I would take the boys home when they were done having Fun. Here is where my careful planning ran into a glitch. How to carry home an exhausted and foot-sore CJ, while pushing bike, and carrying heavy backpack?
*Thankfully** Albus helped a great deal. He pushed the bike and carried the backpack (no small feat), while I carried CJ on my back (also no small feat). We made it!

*Thursday’s menu** Quiche with asparagus and goat cheese. Goat cheese and tomato tart. Beer and bacon cupcakes.
*Because** I spent the afternoon testing recipes and photographing food for an assignment. Had to get my work done before suppertime … because it was supper. Which made supper very easy, frankly. And a good thing too, because we had another early evening of soccer practices and games.
*Complaints/Raves** A few disliked the goat cheese. But the beer and bacon cupcakes were a hit.

*Friday’s menu** Bailey’s Local Food supper!!! Hot dogs, buns, bacon-wrapped asparagus, cherry tomatoes, strawberries.
*The best** I love Fridays, and this was a good one — the kids had their last swim lessons of the session (three passed!; apparently CJ still needs to work on putting his head under the water), after which Kev and I did the Bailey’s local food pickup together while the kids stayed home and watched a movie (yes, I left them all home alone, and it was fine). And then we ate fresh local food for supper. Oh, and then the girls had a dress rehearsal for dance; but Kev took them. Phew. Because I was toast.


*Saturday’s menu** Marinated chicken drumsticks. Pasta salad. Eaten at around 4:30pm.
*Thank you,** Grandma, who brought us chicken from the market. For the pasta salad I used leftover macaroni, fresh veggies, feta, basil from our garden, and olives and capers, in a vinegar dressing.
*And then …** We all went to the girls’ Highland dance recital. Soccer girl had spent the morning at a soccer tournament — quite the change from tough little athlete, to sleek-haired dancer. But can I just say: two and a half hours of Highland dance. That is all.

*Sunday’s menu** Eggs and bagels.
*Thank you,** Kevin! Oh, and Happy Father’s Day, by the way! This meal was brought to us by an exciting soccer tournament, which saw Kevin providing live text reports on the games. When I realized her team was likely to make it through to the finals, I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to borrow a carshare car, pile the kids + snacks in, and race off to Woodstock to catch the final game. We made it! And they won! And then I raced back to Waterloo to play in my own soccer game — in which I displayed much better team spirit, but less inspired play, and managed to injure myself to boot. Meanwhile, Kevin and kids made their way home, stopping for bagels on the way.
*It was a lovely Father’s Day**

Little dancer


Our weekend includes:

one out-of-town soccer tournament
two girls performing at a dance recital

Soccer tournaments we can do in our sleep. But this recital is a new experience.

These photos were taken while one of the girls was at the soccer tournament. She’s home now, and I’ll be attempting a dancer’s bun shortly — the pressure’s on! The bun in these photos was courtesy of a friend and neighbour who knows what she’s doing and gave me a tutorial this morning. Honestly, I’m hair-impaired. I can cut hair, and braid hair, but I hardly ever brush hair, or blow-dry hair, or attempt to make hair look sleek, tidy, neat, or professional.


As a result, we’re a windblown family. But I think this little dancer loves her sleek new look.

On being a competitive person: the ugly truth

Sonyx100 025

For a long time, I’ve thought of myself as someone who doesn’t like participating in team sports. But it had been so many years since I’d even attempted a team sport that I couldn’t remember why. And I love watching my children play team sports, and have observed the wonderful potential for camaraderie and intensive learning. So … this spring, when the opportunity arose to join a women’s soccer team, I signed up without hesitation.

At first, I thought the difficulty was going to be the fact that I hadn’t played organized soccer since the age of ten. But I’ve been watching a lot of excellent soccer over the past few years, and I’m physically fit, and a quick learner — and our team welcomes beginners. So that hasn’t been an issue. 
What I realized after last night’s game is that there is another difficulty, one I’d forgotten, and it’s the reason I don’t like team sports.
Actually, I do like team sports. I love playing on a team. The problem is that I’m not always a fabulous team player. The problem, in other words, is me. Team sports don’t like me. 
For years, I suppressed my competitive nature, and only began embracing it again when I took up running and signed up for races. Wow, this is actually fun, thought I; and wondered why on earth I’d suppressed such an essential part of myself. In fact, I embraced my competitive nature so thoroughly that I forgot what I’d disliked about it in the first place — and let’s just say there was good reason for that suppression.
Here’s why: Because competition brings out an adrenalin-fuelled intensity in my personality that can be extremely unpleasant. Nope, it’s worse than that. It can be ugly.
In individual competition, there’s no problem: the only one I’m being hard on is myself, and for reasons probably best discussed with a therapist, being hard on myself brings out my best effort. But on a team, competitive intensity, handled badly, just sucks. Basically, I’m transferring expectations about my own level of intensity to everyone around me. What I seem to demand of myself, and therefore of teammates, is maximum effort — forget being there for fun, apparently I just want to win. Honestly, if this team sports thing is going to work out, I need to figure out how to dial this aspect of my personality down, and fast. Also, I need to shut up. There’s nothing wrong with having high expectations for myself; but in a team setting, positive feedback is the only feedback worth giving.
(And I need to get off the field without complaint when I’m subbed out! Good grief. It was one little moment in Sunday’s game, but honestly, in that moment I behaved like an ass.) 
You know, on the surface, it was a good game on Sunday evening — we won for the first time this season, and I scored the only goal of the game, and it was a very nice goal, put together with the help of excellent teamwork. But I came home feeling yucky. Realizing that I’d let my competitive nature take over; realizing that I wanted too badly to win and was willing to fight inappropriately toward that end.
So I guess my question is: Can I change? Can I, ahem, mature? Can I become a good teammate?
In some ways, I hate how the learning never seems to end. In other ways, I’m glad for it. Life has a way of shaving off my hubris, and keeping me humble. Ugh. It’s no fun being kept humble, even if it’s good medicine.
But I’m hopeful. It’s not all bad news. I really like being coached and getting feedback and criticism on my play — probably shaped by years of appreciating the writer/editor relationship, which is based on necessary criticism and mutual trust. And I really want to keep playing on a team, and improving — everything. Skills, fitness, but especially attitude. Especially that. I’ll report back.

Weekending in the rain

recital kids

Hello, weekend. Hello, rain.

I don’t mind. I feel indoorsy today, sleepy. A long run is planned for late this afternoon, but I prefer running in the cool damp than hot hot heat. I’m baking bread. I’m sipping a cup of coffee and opening the newspaper — and finding a review that I wrote on an essay anthology called In the Flesh (read it here.)

That’s an awfully lovely discovery after a weird writing week. (The dinosaur story got sent yesterday; an interview for another story due next week went well; but I got very little work done on my new novel. It’s always easier to set aside work for prospective payment in favour of work for guaranteed payment.)

Above, a photo of my well-dressed recital children. With the approach of summer holidays, we are coming to the end of lessons. Last piano lessons last week. Last swim lessons next week. Highland dance recital next weekend.

(Soccer, however, will go on. And on. No matter the rain. But it wouldn’t be summer without soccer, at our house …)

A meandering kind of post

hail storm

Just before my reading yesterday (Wednesday) evening, the skies opened up. Talk about raining and pouring. And hailing. It was dramatic. Perhaps it purged my anxious mood, because by the time I got to the event at the library, everything felt magically relaxed. Or maybe that’s experience coming into play. After all, I have been reading and speaking in public on a fairly regular basis for the past few months.

A friend commented yesterday that she hoped I would find hidden value in my decade of at-home-with-children work; and there is no doubt it’s made me who I am.

I’m less self-conscious, for example. Any public outing involving infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and yes, even 11-year-olds, toughens the hide considerably. And my children have taught me how to ask for what I want — on many levels. If your child has ever been in need, you will discover within yourself reserves of grit and determination, you will knock on doors, you will be persistant and annoying and you won’t give a damn about being judged. On a different level, asking a child to do a task requires simple, straightforward communication. Forget fancy, forget dancing around a subject — state what needs doing in three words or less. So these are hidden assets I’ve gained over the years.

But other skills are rusty …

Alright, I started this post many hours ago, this is how far I got, and I’d like to finish it before bedtime. What has this crazy day held? I worked all day on a story on dinosaurs that is still not quite done. I set up an interview for tomorrow morning. I discovered we have a meeting at our eldest daughter’s new school early tomorrow morning; and that Kevin can’t attend due to work. I managed to make supper from scratch in about twenty minutes flat. Instead of eating it, I worked on the dinosaur story. Soccer girl and I biked to her soccer practice. The weather was gorgeous! I went for a run, and discovered speed — for the first three kilometres. And I hacked it out for the next two, and ran 5km in 23:38, my fastest time yet; and then I hacked out another kilometre and a bit, making it 6km in 28:52. (This is not record breaking time for anyone but me; but it felt good.) After soccer practice, the two of us stayed and practiced penalty shots — AppleApple in net, and me kicking. Addictively fun! Then we biked home. Dishes awaited. Laundry still on the line. Supper still on the table. Exhausted children to put to bed.

Man. I’m tired. I should not be typing, I should be reading in bed right now. I’m currently reading about the life of Edna St. Vincent Millay, and I spend a lot of time turning to my husband to report on the crazy things she’s getting up to. Did you know she was one of the most famous women in America in the 1930s? A poet! She sold 68,000 copies of a book of poems in eight weeks in the middle of the Depression.

More on Vincent to come, methinks.

For now, to sleep, perchance to dream.

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