Wednesday, August 31, 2011

6 Places

I know that places is a pretty broad term.  It can be a country, state, town, restaurant, store, etc.  I chose to stick with cities I've not just been to, but lived in.  It was hard to narrow down that list.  I have lived in 7 states in 4 years.  Multiple cities in some of those states.  Lots of travel for mini trips.  I wish I could list like 20 places, but I can't, so this is what you get.....

Place #1

Queensbury, NY.  It's where I was born and raised.  It's funny how when you are a kid you don't appreciate where you're from.  I can't say that everyone is like that, but it's how I was.  I never stopped talking about how badly I wanted out of Queensbury, Upstate NY, and NY in general.  And I got out, just like I wanted.  And now I always go back.  I try to avoid it in winters, if I can, but that almost never happens.  In the summer and fall, however, Queensbury is gorgeous.  Right at the base of the Adirondack Mountains, a lake less than a 10 minute drive from my house, and decent weather.  There's a reason I'm heading back that way to get married, and why I'll forever return to visit.

Place #2

St. Louis.  My first impression of St. Louis was how terrifying it was.  6 lanes on the highway filled completely with cars?!  Eeeeek.  Just 2 exits north of where I grew up, the only highway went down to 2 lanes.  Then I started going places, experiencing what the city has to offer, and I went home in love.  It's scary to move someplace new where the only person you know is your boyfriend, but that's what I did.  I'll probably never leave.  It has everything someone could want, except for maybe glitz and glamour, which is not my style.  It has 4 true seasons, family friendly attractions, free museums and zoos, the ability to live in small town feeling neighborhoods just a short drive from downtown, and lots of shoes (you had to see that coming).

Place #3

Las Vegas.  Mike played there for 2 seasons.  I lived there for 1.  It.  Was.  Awesome.  The apartments were nice, and far enough away from the strip to not have to deal with tourists and traffic if we didn't want to.  The team was tops in the league, the organization was amazing, and I loved all the girls.  It was like one big family while we were there.  Being with the team there certainly had it's perks.  Like free tickets to shows, being on the guest list for nights on the town, and free drink tickets to any of the bars in the casino where the rink was.  It was by far one of the best places we've been.

Place #4

Norfolk, Virginia.  It was so different from Vegas, and yet just as incredible.  The apartment I loved most was there.  It was gorgeous and right across from the rink.  It was also located immediately behind the street that had all the bars and restaurants.  The mall was down the road.  We drove the car once a week to go to the dog park and grocery store.  I think I saw a grand total of 10 snowflakes that year.  And just like Vegas, the team was one big family.  I think I was saddest to leave that team than any other.  It was just such an incredible year, even before Mike's call up.  I'd go back to Norfolk in a heartbeat.

Place #5

Riviera Maya, Mexico.  It was my first time to Mexico and we went with some friends.  It was incredible.  Great food, great drinks, great beach, great water, great weather.  There was nothing about that trip that I didn't love, other than the snorkeling attempt in seriously choppy water.  But I did get to see a sea turtle, so worth it.  I love sitting on a beach, taking in the sun, a cool drink in hand, and that's all I did for 5 days.  Loved it.

Place #6

The Caribbean.  We haven't made up our minds quite yet on where to go for our honeymoon, but it will be somewhere in the Caribbean.  We have out list narrowed down, and are pretty sure that we have the place picked, but nothing's definite.  All I know is I can't wait.

Tomorrow is 5 foods!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

7 Wants

Like I said yesterday, I'll try to keep all 7 from being about the wedding, haha.

Want #1

For a bridal shop close to home in NY to have the dress I've been obsessing over since I got engaged.  I haven't been able to stop thinking about it ever since I first saw it.  I'm in love.  Not only is it so me and my personal style, but it completely fits the theme, if you can call it that, of the wedding.  It's perfect.

Want #2

For this upcoming hockey season to go well.  No one ever knows what the future holds, but if the season is a success, then next year will usually look good as well.  And it's not just happy wife, happy life.  It's hard for me to be happy if Mike isn't.  He'll be much happier if the season goes well.

Want #3

A new car.  I won't mention what I drive, but let's just say that it's slightly embarrassing.  I'm not terribly picky.  Just a new car.

Want #4

A permanent friend for Bauer.  I know it's not possible with all the travel we do, but that doesn't mean I can't want another dog.  Hell, I'd take another couple if I could.

Want #5

Sunshine on my wedding day.  We're getting married outside, and I don't care what they say about rain being good luck on a wedding day.  I want the damn sun!

Want #6

Shoes.  Not a specific shoe, but lots of different shoes.  I know I said it already, but I love shoes.  I can't get enough.  I'll never have enough.  And I'll always want them.

Want #7

A new bag.  I have clutches of differing sizes.  I have two oversize bags.  I however, do not have a middle of the road, average size bag.  I hate dragging my huge bags to work simply because the clutches don't hold my wallet + phone + keys.  I don't want security asking me about my "luggage" as I walk through rink doors anymore.  Just normal size.  Preferably in black.  Also in brown.  Can I list 2 bags under 1 want?  Too bad, I'm doing it.

Tomorrow is 6 places.  Tune in then!

Monday, August 29, 2011

8 Fears

Let me preface this post by saying that I'm afraid of a whole lot of things.  Not kidding.  Mike's still discovering all the things I'm afraid of.  The ones that I put on here are the worst of the worst.  The fears that don't just freak me out, but paralyze me.  These are seriously no joke to me, as irrational as I'm sure some of them sound.  Hopefully none of you use these against me! Haha.  But seriously.....

Fear #1

Death.  I know this is a pretty obvious one for most people, but it's what scares me most.  It's not so much the fear of dying myself, although that does freak me out.  It's just being around it.  I don't even have to know the person who died to still be sent straight into a panic attack that I mentioned a couple posts back.  I've lost all of my grandparents, and only been to one funeral.  I couldn't even walk inside the room for it.  I couldn't breathe and couldn't stop crying the second my foot broke the plane of the doorway.  My brother had to sit next to me in chairs just outside the door so we could still be a part of it.  I went to a wake to support someone I was close to who lost a family member.  I was fine until I walked into the funeral parlor, then my chest started to get tight, and breathing became difficult.  The second I stepped into the room it was a full blown panic attack.  Not good.

Fear #2

Clowns.  Clowns will also send me into a panic attack if I feel trapped by them.  They always freaked me out as a child, and then I mistakenly watched the movie It.  From that moment on, I've never been able to look at one since.  I can't even hear circus music without getting chills.  If I just happen to see one on TV or out somewhere, if I look away quickly and don't see them again, I'm fine.  It's when I can't get away that I'm not.  Before going into haunted houses or on haunted hayrides I always check to see if there are clowns.  When I went on one, I was told it was just a lot of zombies and such, so I went.  The last scene however, was a dead circus.  That's right, zombie clowns.  I had to listen to circus music, with my head in my hands, surrounded by clowns.  I was shaking, but managing to keep it together, until one jumped up and grabbed me.  Game over.  Panic attack.  It was a nice introduction night to Mike's new teammates that year, haha.

Fear #3

Heights.  This fear is situational.  I can ride tall roller coasters no problem.  I can fly on a plane with no issue.  I can be high up in a sky rise and look out the window no problem.  I can't however step right up to the window and look straight down.  Walking across a high bridge is a problem.  More than 3 rungs up on a ladder is a problem.  Roofs are not an option.  Drop towers at amusement parks are a no-go.  You'll never convince me to bungee jump or skydive.  I made the mistake one time of thinking cliff diving looked fun and spent over an hour crying at the top knowing that the only way down was to jump.  It even makes me nervous to watch other people do the things that scare me.  I hate seeing someone else up high.

Fear #4

Spiders.  I get their purpose.  I appreciate that they keep the insect population down.  That doesn't mean that they aren't ridiculously creepy to look at.  If they are outside, we have no issues.  Spiders are not allowed in my house though.  I see one, I'm calling Mike to get rid of it.  That's right, I won't kill one.  If I'm home alone, I will keep my eye on it until someone else shows up and will get rid of it for me.  I've literally been chased by a few.  Seriously.  Not kidding.  I'll see one on the floor and start to walk away, and next thing I know they're running across the room at me.  I'm always seen running and screaming in the other direction.

Fear #5

The dark.  I know, I sound like a child.  This is a fear that just never went away.  If I'm home alone, I just don't sleep well.  And I sleep with the TV on, so there is some light.  I can sleep in the dark if someone else is in the room with me, but even then, the second it's dark, my eyes won't open until there's light again.  I may be able to say that I know there are no monsters in my closet, or under my bed, but when the lights are off, my eyes are closed.  While there may be nothing there, I don't want to see it if it is.

Fear #6

Deep water.  Not the deep end of the pool, but lakes and oceans.  I don't like not being able to see my feet, and I don't like not being able to touch the bottom.  It freaks me out to think about what's swimming under me.  It's not a fear of a certain animal, like sharks - who I think are awesome, by the way - but just not having any idea what exactly is under me.

Fear #7

Using the phone.  I have no issue calling my family, Mike, or really close friends.  I have problems dialing a number and speaking to people I don't know well.  I will avoid making phone calls at all costs.  If a company says it's best to contact by phone, but provides an email address, I send an email.  I send friends texts.  If I have to call in a prescription or call a doctor I need a few days to repeatedly go over what exactly I'm going to say before I can do it.  If something I wasn't expecting comes up during the call, my brain locks up and I don't know what to do.  I get flustered, can't answer questions, and stutter like crazy.  Because of that, I'm always way more prepared for a phone call than is ever necessary.

Fear #8

Grates.  If I can see through what people are walking on, I'm not walking on it.  I will go out of my way to walk around a grate in the sidewalk.  If I can't walk around it, I'll try to jump it.  I don't care how sturdy they're supposed to be, I'm not taking the chance that I'm falling through.  I also get creeped out when people think it's funny to jump on them to show me they're not falling through.  Irrational?  Yes.  Do I care?  No.  I'll stick to concrete, thanks.

Tomorrow is 7 Wants.  I'll do my best not to mention wedding only things, haha.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A few Engagement Pictures!

We did two different sessions for our engagement pictures.  One was a more serious, typical shoot in the park.  The other was one where we just wanted to go out on the ice, joke around, and have fun.....take them less seriously.  Each shoot was shot by a different photographer.  These are courtesy of a friend of ours!  Haven't seen the ones from the first shoot in the park yet.  Seriously can't wait to get the full disks from both shoots!  And we didn't steal ideas, even if this is totally similar to another girl out there.  Mike and I knew from the moment we discussed engagement pictures that we would do one at the rink he grew up playing in, and put McKenna jerseys on us both.  I guess us hockey folk are on the same wavelength!  Oh, and don't be creepy and steal my pictures.  I realize putting them up here opens me to that, and just asking you not to steal them won't stop some, but it's worth a shot!

9 Loves

It's day 2 of the blog challenge and today is 9 loves.  Here we go!

Love #1

It has to be the obvious, my family both blood, soon to be, and furry.  My parents - who gave up a lot and did everything they could to make sure that my brother and I could do anything we wanted and have everything we wanted, within reason of course.  And also for dealing with my few years of terribleness in my teenage years.  My brother - who makes me laugh like no other and spent years putting up with me going out of my way to scare him.  And who also seems to be holding no resentment towards me for getting married on his birthday.  He's awesome.  Mike's parents - who were nothing but kind and accepting of me from the beginning and who welcomed me into their family with open arms long before Mike and I were ever engaged.  They've done so much for us, and have gone above and beyond time after time.  Bauer - who, despite what other people may think of their own pets, is the best dog in the world.  He cheers me up when I'm down, cuddles like no other dog I've met, and has so much personality.  Lastly, Mike - who more than 7 years later still gives me butterflies, knows exactly what to do or say to make me smile, makes me laugh, and puts up with me.  He truly is one of the kindest, sweetest, funniest, intelligent, and caring people I know.

Love #2

Shoes.  I'm obsessed with shoes.  Like I mentioned in a previous post, we pack bins and bins of shoes when we move, and they're all mine.  It's a struggle to walk past a shoe store.  I always glance longingly at them as I tell myself I will not go in.  If I was a millionaire, my money would go towards shoes.  At least one of every color is a necessity, multiple of each would be ideal.  I'm still working on it.  When I get new shoes I have to sneak them in and hope they're not noticed until they're already worn and not returnable.  I'm addicted.

Love #3

Animals of just about every variety.  I'd live at the zoo if I could.  I still semi-regret majoring in math instead of biology in college because now I'll never be a zookeeper/researcher/anything else that works with animals in any way.  I don't discriminate.  While I have no love for insects, and spiders creep me out, I can understand that they all have a purpose.  Big cats are beautiful, wolves are gorgeous, and I can't even make myself angry at the chipmunks digging holes under our front steps.  We had a 5 foot black rat snake in our yard, and I thought it was the coolest thing.  I spend my days watching Animal Planet and Nat Geo Wild soaking up all the information I can on all species, and I will forever advocate conservation of all.  Also, adopt pets from shelters!  They are there through no fault of their own, and deserve loving homes!  Mutts are the best dogs!

Love #4

Really bad horror movies.  The kind that SyFy puts on every weekend.  Bad special affects, bad acting, bad scripts.  All awesome.  October is one of my favorite months simply because all day every day it's just horror movie after horror movie leading up to Halloween.  I can't get enough.  They're so bad, they're hilarious.  I mean, who comes up with a vengeful swamp tree killing people building a factory?  See?  Awesome.

Love #5

Sports.  You all know by now that I grew up watching hockey, but that was hardly the only sport in our house.  Every Saturday and Sunday football was on.  My grandfather played in college, and captained the team.  The Bears wanted him, but he hadn't gone to college until after fighting in WWII, so he was nearly 30 with bad knees.  He chose to coach instead.  Every Saturday he'd have multiple TVs set up in the same room with different college games on, and the big screen was the game with the most going on.  Radios were also set up throughout the house so he could listen to non-televised games.  I played basketball into junior high, softball until 16, volleyball into college, and I was totally the gym class hero.  Go Giants!  Go Yankees!  Go whatever organization Mike is playing for!

Love #6

Sun.  Is there anything better than a sunny cloudless day?  It's so hard to be in a bad mood when the sun is out.  I do enjoy the occasional thunderstorm, but nothing beats a warm sunny day for me.  When I wake up and see that the sun is out, it automatically puts a smile on my face.

Love #7

Laughter.  If you can find a way to laugh when doing something, then it's just not worth it to me.  I like to put myself around people who generally are happy and like to laugh.  Laughter is contagious.  There are times when something happens that isn't even all that funny, but Mike and I will laugh about it forever because we can't stop laughing at the others laugh.  Laughter makes friends, cheers people up, puts people in a good mood, etc.  There really isn't anything bad about laughing.

Love #8

The color purple.  I don't care what it is, but if it's purple, odds are I'll love it.  My days of buying things simply because they are purple are over, but that doesn't mean I don't wish I still could.  I bought my hair dryer because it was purple, not because of its features.  Purple will be the main color in my wedding.  There isn't a shade of purple I don't love.  It makes me happy.

Love #9

Baking.  I may not be super creative, and I'll never have the talent to sell my desserts in a bakery, but I love it.  Cakes, cookies, breads, cupcakes, etc.  I make it all.  And I'm pretty damn good at it.  Sometimes when I'm bored I'll bake the first thing that comes to mind.  I love hosting parties at our house because then I'll get to bake multiple things.  It's fun, and I find it therapeutic.  If I'm upset about something, I'll bake something that requires me to hand mix.  I take my frustration out on the dough, and then the smell of whatever I made as it's baking puts a smile on my face.

Tomorrow, 8 fears.  I don't know how I'm going to narrow that list down to only 8, haha.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

10 Secrets

So I totally stole this idea from another hockey wife but I just loved the idea.  I think it's a fun way for any readers to learn more about me without me having to come up with a million different topics for different blog entries.  I will be posting everyday for the next 10 long as I don't totally forget, which is completely possible.

The rules for this blog challenge for me (if you don't follow her and haven't already seen them) are as follows:

Day 1: 10 secrets
Day 2: 9 loves
Day 3: 8 fears
Day 4: 7 wants
Day 5: 6 places
Day 6: 5 foods
Day 7: 4 books
Day 8: 3 films
Day 9: 2 songs
Day 10: 1 picture

Without further ado, here we go!

Secret #1

I was a "unique" child growing up.  At least that's what the shrink told my parents.  I guess I've been a little "off" my whole life (which would explain how I can manage to date a goalie, haha).  From before I was a year old until I reached double digits I would have night terrors almost every night.  Apparently I screamed "don't touch me" and other similar things.  My parents were worried someone was abusing me when babysitting me so they brought me to a child psychologist to try to figure it out.  That's when she told them I was having night terrors, I wasn't being abused, and I was just a "very unique child".  Haha, thanks Doc.  I also used to sleepwalk on a fairly consistent basis, and somehow always ended up searching out our dog.  One Christmas my parents and grandparents were setting up my Rainbow Brite kitchen set for the next morning and I walked right into the room.  My grandparents freaked out and my parents just laughed.  "She won't remember this in the morning."  Then they sent me back to bed, and I freaked out when I saw the kitchen set for the first time the next morning.

Secret #2

You couldn't catch me when stealing bases if you wanted to.  I played softball for a large portion of my life, only stopping at 16 to concentrate solely on volleyball.  Coaches learned very quickly that I needed to be behind a fast runner in the lineup because I was going to steal a base.  I wasn't the best hitter, and certainly not a power hitter, but I also almost never struck out.  I walked a lot, and I was fast enough to reach first even on infield hits, so I was on base all the time.  I loved base running.  There was nothing like taking a big lead off first (or second) and staring down the pitcher or catcher as I slowly walked back to the base after a pitch, daring them to try to throw behind me to catch me off base and get me out.  They did it more than they should, and I always took the next base.  My dad was always an assistant coach for my teams, ask him, he'll tell you.  I was hell for other teams, and I loved every second of it.

Secret #3

I have undiagnosed OCD.  I know a lot of people say that they're OCD, but I have someone who was diagnosed with it tell me I was worse than her.  I also took a test in college for a friend's psych project, and came up off the charts for OCD.  I still know that doesn't always mean anything, but when I do explain to people things that I do, they all think I'm nuts, and they'll often try to secretly test me.  I always catch them.  I'm not of the things have to be clean OCD, but things better be in their place and organized the way I want them.  My closet is a prime example.  I will count how many of each color shirt I have and then figure out how they need to be organized.  For example, black will be every 4th shirt, blue every 5th shirt, purple every 6th and so on.  Unless it's a special occasion I wear whatever shirt comes up first in the closet and put it in the back when it's washed.  That way I don't wear the same color too often.  It takes me hours to figure this all out every time we move or I buy new clothes and have to rearrange, but I simply can't live with my closet not being like this. When I got a syllabus in college I divided up the work by how many days I had to do the assignment.  3 days to read 90 pages?  I read exactly 30 each day.  It kept me from doing no work one day and nothing but work the next.  I never did work after 8pm, which was a rule I had for myself.  I pulled one all-nighter in college and that was studying for two finals the next day.  I'm very scheduled.  And that's not even close to everything.  Some things are worse.

Secret #4

I'm a TV-a-holic.  I don't watch the crime shows, because honestly, how many can you put on that are all the same?  Everything else though, I'm watching.  I will give any show a chance, and the DVR is always filled with my stuff.  I can't get enough.  I'll even sit in front of the computer and watch stuff online that I couldn't DVR.  It's bad.

Secret #5

I grew up in a haunted house.  Well, I can't say for sure it was, but too many weird things happened for me to not believe that.  And most of it centered around me.  One time I was playing solitaire in my room and left mid game just to grab a glass of water.  My mom and brother were in the living room watching TV and I had to walk past them to go to the kitchen.  I filled the glass and went straight back to my room, and my mom and brother were exactly like they had been when I'd walked through the first time.  When I got back, the cards were in four piles, by suit and in numerical order like I'd finished the game, but I hadn't and my mom and brother didn't have time to go in and do it and get back out to the living room in the 2 seconds it took me to fill a glass with water.  Loud bangs that would shake the house came from the attic, but nothing had ever fallen over.  I heard footsteps coming up the basement stairs when I was home alone one time and grabbed my brother's hockey stick and waited for someone to come out the door.  No one came out, and there were no footsteps going back down.  I was the last to leave the house every morning for school and always had to lock up.  We didn't have automatic garage doors at the time, and I remember struggling to lock the garage door one morning because I couldn't line up the lock.  It made me late for school.  When I came home the garage door was wide open, but no one was home.  Both of my parents worked half an hour away and didn't come home for lunch because of it, and my little brother didn't have a key and got out of school after I did anyway.  Nothing was stolen or even moved, the door wasn't damaged so it had to have been unlocked to be opened, and that freaked me out.  A shirt I knew was coming for Christmas wasn't under the tree, and my mom remembered wrapping it because my dad commented on how much he didn't like it while she was doing it.  They searched the house and it was nowhere.  The day we were going back to the mall to get a new one my mom woke up and found it, still wrapped, half sticking out from under a chair that had been looked under, and moved when the decorations came down, and it hadn't been under there before.  No one in my family claims to have put it there.  At least a dozen Christmas presents have gone missing and have never been found.

Secret # 6

I'm superstitious, but only when it comes to sports.  I won't list everything, but when I played volleyball I had little things I had to do, and they differed depending on the situation.  It had been 7 years since I've played a game and I realized halfway through the game I played in last night, I was doing them again.  I also have certain things I have to do when Mike plays.  It doesn't calm me down at all, and I don't even know how any of them started, but I have to do them.  The other girls make fun of me all the time, but I can't help it.

Secret #7

I have panic attacks.  Geez, all these weirdo things with me, I should probably be seeing a therapist.  I don't always know what's going to cause them, and sometimes they just start for no reason.  I'll start to see black spots, and it'll get difficult to breathe.  Usually I can stop them because I've learned to realize what's going on almost immediately.  That doesn't always happen though.  If it goes full blown I'm in trouble.  Next thing I know it feels like everything in the room is suddenly super close to me, but the second I try to touch something the entire room feels like it shoots away and I then can't reach anything.  The best way to describe it is a scene from the movie Poltergeist.  The kids are under attack and the mom is trying to reach them, and suddenly the hallway extends and it feels like she will never get there.  That's what happens to me.  Very few times has it gone further, but sometimes I'll throw up and I've even passed out once because I was hyperventilating.  It's a horrible feeling.

Secret #8

I'd much rather eat ethnic food than American.  People call me a picky eater all the time because I don't like to eat things that they eat regularly.  I don't like Taco Bell, so I'm picky.  I hate ham, so I'm picky.  I don't put condiments on things most of the time, so I'm picky.  I'm not a big fan of cheese, so I'm picky.  Well, guess what?  I'm so far from picky.  I will literally try absolutely everything, except organs.  That's where I draw the line.  I don't like fish much, but I will try every variety of fish to see if I like one.  Turns out I love Chilean Sea Bass.  I never would have known if I was picky and refused to try fish.  I also believe that if something is cooked right, it doesn't need condiments.  If I have to put steak sauce on a steak, it's not done well, and not worth eating, at least to me.  I eat every variety of meat, every vegetable there is (except eggplant), almost all fruit, etc.  I'm way less picky than half the people calling me picky.

Secret #9

I am science oriented.  There is not a creative bone in my body.  I am a very logic driven person.  I used to get horrible grades on papers in grade school because there wasn't much flow.  I simply spewed out the facts.  I spent my whole life being told that college professors wouldn't be impressed with any papers I wrote.  When I got to college I was repeatedly told how well I wrote.  They didn't want all the superfluous crap, they wanted the facts and to see that you understood what you were writing about, and not just bullshitting your way through hoping they wouldn't notice you didn't quite grasp the concept.  I love numbers which is why I majored in math (and also, no papers!) and I wish I could have taken chemistry all four years of high school.  Don't ask me to draw anything.  You'll get a stick figure, and still won't be able to tell what it is.

Secret #10

I'm a klutz.  I run into everything.  I fall.  I hit my head off of things that haven't moved from their position in years.  I can't count the number of stairs I've slid down, things I've kicked, or tables I've run into.  At work yesterday I wasn't looking as I walked and ran straight into a display in the walkway that has been there the whole time I've worked there.  I managed to catch it before it fell and broke, but a couple of guys commented on how I'd be a hell of a football player.  I get bruises that I can't explain, because running into things is so common that it doesn't even really register when I do.  At least I can laugh at myself when I do it.

So that's my 10 secrets.  Tune in tomorrow for my 9 loves!

Friday, August 19, 2011

So You Want to Date a Goalie?

Warning.....extremely long.

Good luck.  That's all I have to say.  No, I'm kidding.....but seriously.  There's honestly not a whole lot of good things I can say about being with a goalie.  More often than not, it's work.....a lot of it.  Hell, I feel exhausted after games sometimes, and I'm just sitting on my butt in the stands watching.  If you think I'm joking or just plain don't believe me, read on.

Every year I hear "I don't know how you do this" on multiple occasions.  That's coming from the other wives and girlfriends who aren't dating a goalie.  Please, don't take that wrong.  I have no idea what dating a defenseman or a forward is like so I can't assume it's easy.  I'm sure it's not.  I just know that most of the girls are marveling at the crap I have to put up with.

At the beginning of the season one of the girls in Norfolk looked over at me during a game Mike was playing and shook her head.  "You make me nervous.  I'm never nervous unless I sit next to you."  I guess I'm a bit of a disaster when he plays, just exuding bad energy.  The same friend was sitting next to me when Mike got his first NHL shutout in Tampa that year.  She had to remind me to breathe a few times that night.

I try to be social with the girls at the games.  Sometimes it's the only time I see some of them because they live out of town or have young children and don't go out with the rest of us.  If Mike is playing that night, then you can forget about having a decent conversation with me.  I'll talk until it's a penalty kill or the puck is in the defensive end.  At those times I completely zone out, mid sentence, and don't tune back in until play is whistled down.  It's off-putting sometimes, but most of them get it.

I HAVE to wear fake nails.  Not kidding.  I'm a nervous nail biter and have been my whole life.  You'll never find me more nervous than I am during one of Mike's games.  Also, I'm not lying when I say I've bitten down on my nails hard enough to break them off it's that bad.  I wish I could be more relaxed, but I can't.  That's my fiance on the ice.  It's his livelihood.  Everything in our lives depend on how well he plays.  Ultimately, I'm not a fan of all the money spent on nails each year.

A goalie is either the hero or the zero.  There's no way around it, and that's so much pressure.  Obviously if they couldn't handle pressure they wouldn't be a goalie, but it's still difficult.  I hate that if a team loses a game, or even has a bad season, it's always on the goalie.  Sure, sometimes goals and games are their fault, but at least the majority of the games I've watched, that's just not the case.  There's so much to goaltending that most people will never realize or learn, and because of that, their blame is most often misguided and wrong.

I've been a hockey fan.  I grew up with season tickets to the old Adirondack Red Wings in the 80's and early 90's.  I went to my first game when I was 4 months old and never stopped.  I'm the only wife/girlfriend that I've ever met that will willingly, and usually suggest, putting televised games on, no matter who is playing, to watch at night.  Hockey doesn't bore me.  I love it.  I always have.  I get the game.  I thought I got goaltending.  Then I met Mike.

I was shocked at how much I didn't understand about goaltending and about how much there is to it.  You'll almost never hear me call a goal a bad goal anymore.  I know what to look for on replays.  Was it deflected?  Was he screened?  Did the puck come off the shooter's blade strange?  Was the puck knuckling or rolling?  Did the shooter put the puck in a basically impossible to save spot (close to the ear, glove side, for all you people who think those are bad goals)?  Did the play get screwed up?  Did the D or forward miss his assignment?  Was it a rocket of a shot?  Did the shooter miss the shot he was going for, and so the puck slid past a goalie who read the shot the guy was trying to take?  There are so many more things I could list.

If I think a goal looked bad, and even on the replay I still think it looked bad, I'll ask Mike before making a judgement.  There's always something I didn't previously know and can learn.  I want to learn.  I want to know what I'm talking about when Mike gets home after a game.  I don't want to be the girl that just tries to reassure, but be the girl that can really talk and help him out if he decides he needs that.  I can't do that if I don't understand what I'm talking about.  I'll sit with Mike when he goes over his game tapes and watch him rewind and rewind the same play and let him explain to me what he was thinking on each goal scored and why it went in.

I guess that's why I get so aggravated when I hear people complain about a goalie.  I'm willing to bet that 98% of the goals fans think are bad, aren't bad at all.  I keep my mouth shut knowing that trying to debate a goal with anyone is useless, but I can still wish that people would shut up unless they really knew what they were talking about.  All of the "You suck!" and "Get him out of the net!" comments I hear from the team's own fans are horrible.  The guys don't hear it, but I do.  I have to sit there and listen to people who more often than not don't know what they're talking about tell my fiance how terrible he is.  What's fun about that?

Then there's also the other team's fans.  Going into another team's barn is always an experience.  They get on the opposing goalies like it's no one's business.  Most of the jeering I can handle, not because I think it's okay, but because I had to learn to thicken my skin.  When you date a goalie, it's part of what you sign up for.  If you can't handle a fan yelling at your guy, stay home.  It's going to happen.

In college I used to work the hockey games.  I stood at the top of the stairs in the visiting team's ticket section and made sure that everyone sat in their seats.  Basically, I was an usher, but I didn't care.  I got paid to stand at center ice and watch a game I was going to attend anyway.  One night a guy on the other team made a nice move and beat Mike.  A guy on the aisle in the top row jumped up cheering, looked at me, and said "That was my son!" with a big grin on his face.  I smiled back at him and said "He just scored on my boyfriend."  The guy could tell I wasn't upset and we ended up laughing about it and chatting for a bit.  That kind of stuff is fine and kind of fun.  Nothing like a little good natured ribbing.

Mike's first year pro he was playing a game in Albany.  We were doing long distance because I was finishing my senior year of school, and this was as close as he was going to get to me, so I drove the 4 hours just to go to the game.  As I sat in the stands, watching him play what ended up being a shootout loss (more on shootouts later), there was a guy sitting just a few rows behind me.  He was yelling at Mike the whole game.  Not just a few times, literally almost every play.  I gritted my teeth and kept my mouth shut until....."Even your girlfriend thinks you suck!"  I simply turned around and said "No, actually I don't."  That jerk didn't say a word the rest of the game.  I didn't have to flip out to get my point across.  These guys are people and have families and loved ones in the stands.  Keep that in mind.  I've often wondered if I ran into that guy while Mike played in Albany last season.....

Mike's even had my name chanted at him during games in college.  Still wondering how the Cornell student section knew my full name before things like Facebook even existed.

I've given some fans glares, and even done the "real nice" comment after some things, but really, you just have to suck it up and deal.  There's always going to be an asshole yelling at someone you care about when it comes to sports, and goalies are right up there as far as how bad they get it.  There's nothing fun about dealing with that.

Then there's after losses.  It's not fun to be home after a bad game.  No matter what happened during the game, Mike will always say it's his fault, and he'll always be upset.  That's just what you get when you date a guy who has the entire game placed on his shoulders.  Like it's not bad enough the fans and media will tear him apart, I have to deal with him tearing himself apart as well.  Usually I just stay quiet until he decides he's ready to talk.  More often than not he needs a little bit of time to himself before he starts discussing the game.  Maybe other players do this, I wouldn't know.  I doubt this is only something goalies do, but how do you convince them that the loss wasn't their fault?  It's never easy.  Honestly, the best thing I can do is let him be, talk about it if he wants to, and refrain from getting upset at him at all costs.  Nagging him is only going to set him off, no matter how much what he did pissed me off.

Then there are shootouts.  I LOATHE shootouts.  There just really isn't much I hate more.  In my opinion, it's a ridiculous way to decide a game.  I could care less how much fans enjoy it.  It's horrible.  Way to take a team game and make it about one person.  I get the point of penalty shots in games.  You'll never hear me complain about them (unless they were totally unwarranted).  Shootouts are a completely different story.  Aside from my passionate dislike for their purpose, I also can't stomach them.  I literally get nauseous as the last seconds of overtime tick off the clock.  I will literally shake throughout the entire shootout.  Best advice I can give you for spending shootouts next to me?  Leave me the F alone.  I will take your head off if you try to talk to me during one.  Unfortunately for me, Mike somehow always ends up towards the top of the league in shootout shots faced.  Just my luck, right?  Thankfully, he also somehow always ends up towards the top of the league in shots stopped in shootouts.  For whatever reason, he's always been good at breakaways and shootouts.  Of course, if he loses one, that makes it so much worse.  Those are the nights when I'm thrilled if he's on the road because he won't be coming home angry and the nights when he's home that I'm terrified to go back.

Sound fun so far?  I didn't think so.

There's the pulling the goalie part of the game that really tops it all.  Some coaches do it too often, some almost never.  More often than not, I don't think there's a good reason to pull a guy.  What are the odds the team is going to come back when enough goals have been scored to justify pulling a guy?  Sure, it has happened, but really?  Not to mention, the guy coming into the game is cold.  He's not warmed up, and they get next to no time to warm up.  It's not like it's a pitcher who's been throwing in the bullpen for the last inning and a half and then gets another batch of pitches to throw before play resumes.  They're lucky the refs give them 30 seconds.  Guys can get hurt going in cold.  They also faced next to no shots in warm ups and haven't seen shots at all during the duration of the game.  It takes a while to get into a groove, which is why so often they get scored on pretty early.  The guy who comes out is pissed off, and the guy who goes in is pissed off.  Also, I'm pissed off because I chose not to fly to Long Island to see the first game Mike dressed because he wasn't playing and I wanted to fly to Pittsburgh to see the first game he played just to see him get thrown in halfway through the game against the Islanders on TV.  I'll never get over not being there in person, but I digress.

Also, there's the danger.  They're throwing themselves all over the place trying to keep the puck out of the net.  Anyone who says their equipment needs to be smaller has no idea what they are talking about.  They don't get to see the bruises and raised bumps I get to when he gets home.  Some are downright horrible looking.  Mike's goalie partner with the Devils had his throat slit two seasons ago, which is horrifying.  He came within like 1/4" from having his aorta hit.  It's terrifying to see them go down.  It's like that for every player, but goalie's are prone for so much of the game that the danger never goes away.  It's why you'll never see me fly off the handle more than when someone runs a goalie, especially Mike.  It's the only time in the middle of a period I will be out of my seat, and you better believe a string of curses are being hurled at top volume down towards the ice.  Then there's things like this video.  I mean, come on.  He could have taken that off the face!

There are upsides, as few as they are, to dating a goalie.  Things like hearing the crowd's reaction to something like this.....

Or this.....

Those are the times that I can't stop smiling.  Watching and hearing the crowd go absolutely bananas cheering my guy on is an incredible feeling.

I can remember the first incredible save I ever saw him make in person.  It was his second year in Vegas.  I was sitting almost right on the goal line and watched in horror as the shot went wide, hit the backboards, and kicked back out the other side onto another guy's stick.  It was a sure goal and I was pissed even before the shot.  Then the red light didn't go on and Mike jumped up, and tossed the puck into the circle for a faceoff.  What?!  What just happened?!  They showed the replay over and over again the rest of the night.  Somehow Mike managed to go post to post and literally caught the puck on the goal line.  They stopped the replay to show the crowd exactly where he caught it, and if it was another half an inch back his glove would have been in the net.  The fans went nuts, and didn't stop the rest of the night.  I also couldn't keep the smile off of my face.  I proudly stood and cheered at the top of my lungs along with everyone else, my heart racing with adrenaline.  The best part?  Being close enough to see the grin on Mike's face after he made the save.  Here's the picture.....

Oh, and the shutouts.  Is there anything better for a goalie?  I watch every game Mike plays on the road on the computer.  Yes, I pay the $6.99 a game to watch a terrible quality stream so I can see him play.  If there's a problem with the stream, I have the game on the radio in the background as a back up.  I think in the over 7 years we've been dating, I've missed 6 games he's played and they were all for extremely legit reasons.  I don't miss games.  I've also never missed a shutout.

I'd just gotten into Tampa after a 2 day 14 hour drive from Norfolk.  I was tired and nervous.  His family flew in, and an old coach of his was also there.  I sat with them and the previously mentioned friend.  I don't think about shutouts, and I WILL lose it on you if you say the word while the game is still going on.  The Islanders took a penalty with just a few minutes left in the game, and I let myself think about it.  My heart was racing, and I started imagining what it would be like.  Then Kyle Okposo came out of the penalty box on a breakaway.  I stopped breathing, cursed myself out for thinking about a shutout, willed Mike to make a save, and almost broke my friends hand all in the few seconds that passed.  Mike made the save, along with another extremely difficult one before the buzzer sounded.  The only time I've ever cried harder in my life was when Mike proposed.  I couldn't function.  I think I left my hands over my face forever.  I got to meet all of the other wives and girlfriends that night with make-up streaks and bloodshot eyes.  It was amazing.  Watching him get the star of the game and his interview after was surreal.  It had really happened and the place was jumping.  Even if the rest of that season didn't go so great, I'll never lose that moment.

I suppose there is one other perk to dating a goalie.  Flexibility.  Mike can practically do a full split.  Sorry if this is TMI, but hoooooly is it hot.  Before every period, when he's stretching, the split will be the last thing he does.  I make sure I'm always watching.  A few people have told me they think it's weird, but come on.  Just watch it and tell me it's not hot.  You'll never convince me otherwise.

I tell people that some games I just wish he won't play.  Obviously I want him to play as much as possible, and as well as possible, but I need a break once in a while!  I'm a much different person when someone else is playing than when Mike is.  I'll talk, I'll laugh, I won't break your knee cap when I grab onto your leg during a particularly dangerous play.  I might even have fun.

Bottom line, I spend most of my life stressed out because of the position my fiance plays. It's not usually fun, it's never easy, and a fair amount of the time, it sucks.  I think it takes a special kind of person to really be able to date a professional athlete of any kind, and an even more special person to date people in such high pressure positions.  We often compare a goalie to a pitcher in baseball, or a QB in football.  The game rests on your shoulders, and the significant others of those guys carry almost as much of the weight.  I wouldn't recommend it.  And yes, I'm also aware this sounds extremely negative, or like I'm complaining.  I'm not.  There just wasn't another way to explain and word things without it sounding like that.  It's my brutal honesty and my reality.  If I hated it so much, I wouldn't live it.  I knew what I was getting into when I started dating Mike, and I won't ever turn my back on someone I love simply because it isn't easy.  There are certainly advantages to my life, ones I may touch on in a later post.  Even so, if you knew all of this ahead of time, would you still want to date a goalie?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Do you really need those shoes?

Where has this summer gone?!  It can't possibly be almost over.  And yet I know people who have already left for Europe for the hockey season, the kids in St. Louis are headed back to school next week, and I realized that I only have 3 more weeks of work left.  That can't be right

We had a long summer since there were no playoffs for us, but it just didn't feel like it.  We had so many things going on that I don't feel like we got to relax at all.  Last summer we traveled and did so much that we said no way we were going to do that again this summer.  Somehow we did even more.  How does that happen?!

Not much happened when we first got home, but maybe that's why I can't remember relaxing?  We got engaged on June 8th and the few days following it were a blur to me.  Then we found ourselves in Orlando for the PHPA meetings.  We were home for a week before flying out to Las Vegas to go to a wedding.  No it wasn't at a casino, the bride is actually from there.  We were home for a few days before we flew to Toronto for the Toronto Indy.  I went straight to NY to find a ceremony and reception site.  Then I was full on into work mode.  And trying to get wedding planning done.

Now it's time to start preparing to leave for hockey.  I'll leave when Mike leaves and just stay with my parents until the start of the regular season.  While we won't start packing right away, we have to start figuring out the process.  Since we're driving separate cars, we have to figure out where to stop overnight on the way.  We can't just go by how we feel because of Bauer so we have to plan the stop.  We have to reserve a trailer to tow our stuff.  It's time to debate what stays here and what comes with us..  I have to put in my notice at work and start figuring out the transfer process so I'll have a job when I get to Binghamton.  We have to start eating up all the food we've stored all summer so we don't have to throw anything away.  And while not necessary, we have to hit up all our favorite restaurants one last time before we leave.

I'm a major procrastinator so I know plenty of that stuff is going to get put off to the last possible second.  It'll be the night before we move, Mike will be packing the trailer, and I'll still be tossing clothes into suitcases and candles into boxes just like every other year.  And just like all the other times, Mike will be looking at me like I'm nuts when I bring down ANOTHER bin filled with my shoes.  "Do you really need those shoes?" he'll ask.  Poor Bauer will be giving us the 'again' look while hiding from the bins and scattered hockey equipment, which scare him.  Then I'll be lucky to get 4 hours of sleep because I'll keep thinking of things that need to get packed and we'll be off.

It's the month after the initial move that is the most difficult.  I have to live out of a suitcase at my parents place because I never know how long I'll be there.  Mike will be gone the whole time at camp and I'll miss him like crazy.  I'll also spend every day online checking out apartments in Binghamton and trying to figure out where the best place to live is.  If anyone knows anything about the city and wants to give some advice, I'll gladly take it!

Not knowing where we're going to be living or when we'll be moving in is always hard.  I hate the uncertainty.  Like I mentioned before, Mike and I are planners.  Even while I'm checking out apartments online just to see what's out there, Mike will be finding out where guys have lived in the past.  Hopefully other guys will have dogs because I'd hate to be far from everyone else because the place they live doesn't allow pets.  And Bauer always loves making new friends!

While I'm home I'm hoping to get the majority of the wedding stuff taken care of.  The part I'm most excited about is dress shopping of course!  I already have a style in mind.  Okay, okay, a specific dress, in mind.  I can't wait to find the one!  It's going to be wedding planning non stop for a few weeks.  I'll probably enjoy the start of the season just to take a break from it all.

I'm always incredibly sad to leave our home for the season.  I'll choke back the tears that will threaten to fall the whole morning while we're taking care of the last minute things.  I'll end up crying like a baby the second my car pulls out of the driveway like I always do.  It won't be until we cross into Illinois before the tears stop completely.  That doesn't mean I'm not looking forward to the new year, but it's never easy to leave home.  I am looking forward to the new adventures we'll experience in our new city with our new team.  I can't wait to find out if we'll make some amazing friends, which I'm sure we will.  I still just can't believe that the summer is almost over!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

My Parents Came to Town!

This past week my parents came into town for a visit.  It was only their second time in St. Louis so Mike and I were excited to show them some more of the city they hadn't seen before, and go back to some of the places they loved the first time.  They got in on Sunday afternoon, and I spent the next two hours hanging out and watching their dog Nash and Bauer chase each other all over the house and the backyard.  Those two are best buddies and they hadn't seen each other since we'd left Albany in April.  Needless to say, they were pumped.

After a St. Louis dinner of pork steaks, homemade baked beans, and pasta salad I got to head off to work overnight doing inventory.  Yuck.

On Monday we decided to hit the road and take about an hour drive to go check out Meramec Caverns.  The place was incredible.  Aside from being a hiding spot for Jesse James back in the day, which is cool if you like history, it was gorgeous.  The tour of the caves was about an hour long and Mike grabbed some truly amazing pictures.

Tuesday we took my parents to Lone Elk Park.  It's a state park that was turned into a kind of training facility for soldiers during World War II and then also for the Korean War.  They moved out all the native wildlife, built bunkers and shooting ranges for practice.  Years passed with no sign of wildlife until one day, as the story goes, one lone elk walked right out into plain sight.  It's not known if the elk was living all that time unsighted or if it had just recently moved into the area, but that was how the park got it's name.  Now visitors can drive in and take a driving tour of the park checking out both the elk population moved back in, and a bison population they've added.  It was calving season, so we didn't see a single female elk, but there were five males complete with huge racks hanging out around the park.  One was even laying right next to the road and allowed us to pull right up and snap pictures for a while.

The bison were in view, but not terribly close, so we only spent a short time watching them.  A raccoon family was spotted along with a few wild turkeys and a couple of deer.  Pretty good wildlife viewing that day.  Then we headed to Bandana's for dinner, which may have the most amazing barbecue you could ever want.  I literally crave this place when we leave for the season.

Wednesday was our trip to the zoo day.  My parents requested this trip so we spent the afternoon taking the tour.  I go multiple times a summer, so I have my route through the zoo down to a science.  Easily one of the best parts of the trip was the hyenas rolling around and playing in the water.  I've never seen them so active.  Of course, the penguins were on fire just spearing through the water looking way more agile than you'd ever expect, and we all got a good laugh at their antics.  The black mamba, just like every other time I've seen it, was moving around like crazy and creeped me the F out.  I get chills every time I see that thing.  I'm not sure any other animal terrifies me more than the black mamba.  I'm shaking now just thinking about it.  We headed over to Zia's, one of our favorite Italian joints, for dinner and finished the day off with a trip to St. Louis institution, Ted Drewes for some concretes.  The Fox Trot is always a good choice.

Thursday we just spent hanging out around the house.  The 100 degree heat index weather had taken it's toll and despite the fact that it was much cooler that day, we were all just tired.  Even Nash and Bauer had calmed down and weren't playing as much.  We did go to dinner at Citizen Kane's with both my parents and Mike's parents.  They have the best steak we've eaten anywhere, and Mike and I have been to a lot of famous steak places simply because of all the different places we've lived.  It's also the place we went to dinner the night that we got engaged.  While everyone else raves about the ribeye there, I always go for the filet.  You can't go wrong with either.  Then we took my parents down the road to the rink where Mike proposed to show them where it happened.  While it can sound completely cheesy that Mike proposed in a rink, trust me when I say that there was so much more that I'm not going into detail on that made it truly perfect and special to us as a couple.  He didn't just do the I play hockey so I'll propose at the rink proposal.  It was so much more.  Then my brother arrived into town late that night to spend the weekend.

Friday was the night of our engagement party.  I was worried through part of the afternoon because a pretty good thunderstorm blew in and it looked like it might go on throughout the night.  Because of how many people were coming we chose to just rent a pavilion at the local park and have an outdoor party rather than rent a huge space someplace.  However, the storm was over more than an hour before the party started and it took the heat away with it.  It was actually beautiful out and the nicest night we've had in over three weeks.  We spent the entire night celebrating with some of our closest friends and family in St. Louis, and it was a great night.

We had our favorite Mexican restaurant, Mi Lupita, cater the party.  We had a taco and fajita bar set up with plenty of chips and salsa and guacamole.  For anyone not interested in Mexican we had a deli make up a bunch of sandwiches, pasta salad, and a regular salad.  We're truly thrilled that so many people showed up to celebrate with us and thankful for both of our parents.  We couldn't have had the successful night that we had if it wasn't for all their help setting things up and making sure that things went smoothly.  We finished the night off with some of our friends coming back over to our house for a game of Daytona 500, our favorite board game.  There's a lot of thinking, scheming, and screwing people over in that game, and there's always plenty of laughs when someone's car gets blocked in and they can't make a move.

My parents left Saturday morning and while I was sad to see them go, I'd like to think they had a good time during the week.  Not to mention that in about a month I'll be back in NY and staying with them for a bit until the season starts.  It's just easier to leave St. Louis at the same time as Mike and stay with them until training camp is over than it is for me to have to try to move all of our possessions halfway across the country by myself.  It's only hitting me now that the hockey season is almost upon us.  This summer has flown by.  I guess that means it's time to get this wedding stuff rolling.  It'd be nice to have just about everything that can be done, done before the season starts.  We'll see if this procrastinator does just that.....