Monday, 2 February 2015

Life Flies By

This space has been silent for a while.  I would love to regale you with some more of my revered poetic musings but today my rhyming mechanism lays dormant.  I have been busy living life, complete with all that it entails.  Exciting things I get to do include grocery shopping, shoveling snow, and running loads of laundry (yes I did some so I can say this without being offed by my lady).  While I am not busy with fun such as the above, I managed to find time to do more arduous things such as: read 4 books already in 2015, play more poker this month then I have in any month in the past 3 years, attend the most boring junior hockey game I have ever witnessed, get to the pool 2 or 3 times every week, and much more.

The routine is what it is.  Most of the things in the routine I have selected.  The problem with a routine is that even if it is filled with fun stuff that you chose, routines all grow tiresome.  I really have been enjoying the extra poker sessions but I know too much of a good thing is always going to become a bad thing.  Of the 6 movies currently playing at the local theatre, I have seen 4 of them.  Again, too much of a good thing?  One thing that never gets old is spending time with my Jasmine and my Asher.  I really like that I have a nearly 12 year old daughter and a recently turned 4 year old son.  They have completely different things that they are into.  They are both willing to try new things when I or Sheila suggest them.

Asher's personality is developing so rapidly that I am having a hard time believing some of things he is saying and doing these days.  Just in the last couple of months it is like a little switch went off in his noggin and suddenly he cares deeply about others.  He has always loved Mom, Dad, sister, Grandma, Grandpa, Uncles and Aunts and cousins.  Now, Asher has started to take notice of other children and when they may or may not need something from him.  I've noticed a series of little things that have made me proud.  A toddler girl tipped over on her scooter at Strong Start and before I or the girl's mom could notice, Asher ran over to get her upright despite the fact that he was deeply engaged in a game of soccer with another friend.  A ball rolls away from another child, and Asher is there to hand it back.  A man drops a book at the library and Asher is itching to be the one in grabs it and passes it back.  Asher has been lucky enough to meet a new friend at Strong Start who just moved to Prince George from South Africa.  His buddy is 4 just like him and enjoys soccer during gym time and doing puzzles.  Last week, Asher and he spent the morning following each other around making sure they were doing the same things that the other was doing. 

 I know that many people would have a hard time believing it, but my just turned 4 year old son and I can hang out like buddies do.  I curb the potty mouth (even words like bum and darn get you a scolding from Asher), but otherwise I talk to my son much the same way I talk to friends.  We share stories about the wrestling match we watched the other day, then decide we should wrestle ourselves.  We like to grab a few quarters and head to the video game store to play Ninja Turtles.  We have been wearing out the new hockey net that Santa brought for Asher.  Asher loves his board games, but his favourite is to play poker with me.  He play poker with only a few modifications, and he already has a taste for winning.  I get very dramatic when he beats me, and this makes him all the more excited to win.  I raised the other night, then Asher responded by shoving his chips towards me with one hand.  Loose aggressive would describe him as he turned over a Q-8 offsuit after I called.

My favourite day recently was a couple of weeks ago when we spent the day doing all sorts of fun stuff.  Asher's birthday was January 11th and my gift to him was a letter.  In the letter I invited him to hang out with me for the day on January 15th, then I provided a list of activities.  It was up to Asher to pick 3 things that we would do that day.  I included a few things on the list that he was familiar with, but I also threw in a few new activities.  In the end, the whole day came off great.  We started by driving a few minutes out of town to the cross country skiing complex.  After we strapped our rental skis on, we spent a little time testing them out.  Asher had some fun marching around and we found a small hill to glide down but before long he was looking forward to the next activity.  I managed to squeeze a bit more skiing out of him before it was time to move on.  We were off to the bowling alley, where Asher is an old pro.  He has about 10 bowling games under his belt already. I have never used the gutter sausages or the ball ramp for him.  Ash tosses the balls all on his own.  Fittingly, his birthday game he scored a 62, a new high for him.  He loves it, and he is good.  Afterwards, we got the score printed out and Asher had fun chatting up the proprietor of the lanes.  He had to tell him about his big day and with his new found caring about others style even asked the guy: "Hey, do you like to go skiing?  Cuz I do, we just went."  I like that he seems to be just the right amount of shy around strangers.  Once he had figured out that this guy was friendly, well, he might as well be friendly too.  After that, I surprised Asher by starting to walk away from where we had parked.  Around a couple of corners we came to the video game store where we have been paying fairly regular visits.  We spent some time mashing buttons while beating up the bad guys on the old school Ninja Turtles game before moving on to some car racing and finally some shooting.  The little guy is even pretty good at video games.  He gets so into the Ninja Turtles game, hollering at all the bad guys, hollering when he gets hit, quarters well spent for sure.  The other store patrons and the shop owner all seem to get a kick out of this tiny kid on the milk crate smashing away.  All that fun had us pretty hungry so off to find some food were we.

We arrived at Costco to find that the pizza and hot dog shop was shutdown for renovations.  The situation gave me another chance to be a proud dad.  My son doesn't throw public tantrums.  He gets upset sometimes, sure.  He really only gets grumpy or rude when he is tired he has just woken up.  I know lots of children would have broken down after seeing that they weren't going to be able to have pizza and a sundae.  Not Asher.  We browsed the big televisions then made our way through the grocery section scooping a handful of different samples.  This prompted Asher to turn to me and say: "Dad!  I don't think we even need lunch!"  We filled our faces enough and then we were off to the YMCA for our final stop.  We changed into our gym strip and had blast for a few hours.  Playing tag in the kids gym, playing fooseball, playing ping pong, then ultimately shooting some hoops in the gym.  We went upstairs and lifted a few weights before calling it a day.  I was exhausted and so was Ash.  He fell asleep in the car on the way home and I couldn't have been happier with the way the day turned out. 

After gushing excessively about the little man and all the fun we have together I would entirely remiss if I didn't mention just how grown up and mature my girl Jasmine has become.  While Asher and I spend a ton of time together, my time with Jasmine is at more of a premium because it seems she keeps herself very busy.  The last couple of weeks Jasmine has not only been playing for her club basketball team "the Wings", but she has also joined the Malaspina girls basketball team.  That has meant practicing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  This week "the Wings" played at halftime of the University game on Saturday, then had a longer game to play the next morning.  I haven't had the chance to see her in action too often due to my work schedule, but I have seen a couple of games this year.  As the young kids say these days, Jasmine has been flat out killing it.  At 11 years old, Jasmine has grown a lot in the last few years.  She stands 5'6" tall and is a solid 120 pounds.  She is starting to realize that her physical attributes are a huge advantage on the basketball court.  Asher and I watched her last week and she was able to score almost at will.  She used a jump stop and tossed in a jump shot from about 10 feet.  She snatched a rebound and threw it back up for another basket.  She found a teammate on a breakout with a powerful chest pass.  Jasmine has played more basketball then most of the other girls, this being her fourth year in the league, and it shows.  She is very friendly and lacks aggression while playing sports.  I've made that point with her this year that she could flat out dominate if she gives 100% effort on both offense and defense.  It doesn't come naturally to her, she is definitely into sports for the fun and social aspect.  There have been a few indicators though that tell me she flat out wants to be a great basketball player.  After I took her to her game one Sunday before Christmas she asked me in the car if I thought she was more likely to get a College scholarship for basketball or for soccer.  Not ready for the question I gave her a very diplomatic response.  "Jas, I think it's too early to tell.  If you work really hard you never know.  Basketball is going pretty well, but I know you are a good soccer player too."  She seemed happy with that.  While Jasmine isn't overly competitive, and scores aren't kept in her club games, she always keeps track of how many baskets she has scored.  The one game I watched, every time she scored she would throw up a number of fingers to indicate how many baskets she had scored.  A tad self-indulgent?  Sure.  I couldn't help but smile though.  Not only has Jasmine been busy with basketball, but her Girl Guides and her social life keep her quite active as well.  She doesn't seem to be avoiding hanging out with Dad just yet, so I need to take advantage of my opportunities now before it's too late.

Jasmine and I have been busy bonding lately over music.  There are a number of musicians that both she and I really like, and even a few songs that Asher, Jasmine and I all get into.  On our way to the pool, or the library or wherever we are headed the 3 of us will all belt out the lyrics to Asher's favorite song "Hey Brother" by Avicii.  Jasmine loves to control the stereo, often going back to Classified's "Inner Ninja".  Asher loves this one too, tweaking the words a bit as he shouts out "fighta ninja!" when the punch line hits.  We were all flattened when we heard that news that Classified will be in Prince George later this month for an outdoor concert as part of the Canada Winter Games.  There are concerts going on throughout the games and there a few that we want to see for sure, as well as many other interest acts that we might check out.

The whole family and the chance to go to the movie theatre a couple weeks ago and take in "Paddington".  The movie has been reviewed remarkably well, scoring 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, likely to be one of the best scores of 2015.  It didn't disappoint.  I like kids movies.  I have embraced them as a parent, and for the most part they are very enjoyable.  In 2014, The Lego Movie and Big Hero 6 were amongst my favorite movies of any genre.  This one could have been "too cute" when considering the premise.  A family finds a talking bear and after agreeing to provide temporary care for him, eventually this leads to him winning over the reluctant dad who helps the rest of the family save Paddington from the evil taxidermist.  Did I mention that this movie utilized the dreaded live action/cgi mixed format?  I know, this cheesy story line and movie formatting almost always turns out terribly.  In this case, the exact opposite occurred.  Jasmine laughed a ton, Asher was somewhat  distracted by his munchies, but the loudest laughers were Sheila and I.  A great deal of fun.  As I mentioned earlier, I have seen 4 of the 6 movies currently at the theatre.  If your curious, American Sniper (4 out of 5), The Imitation Game (4 1/2 out of 5), Project Almanac (3 out of 5) and Paddington (4 1/2 out of 5).  Sheila and I have a date planned for tomorrow to see Birdman which has received a glut of award nominations.  It should be good, an extremely well reviewed comedy is a rare treat these days.

With that, I bid you adieu.  Have a great week all!

Monday, 12 January 2015

Asher Inspired Poetry


I am no poet,
But I love my son
I want the world to know it
Some of the things he has done
Make me burst with pride
Lucky man I am to be along for the ride.


Asher is 4 now
Sometimes I wonder how
One day a tiny crying ball of tears
Now a little man with very few fears
From stationary, to crawling, to walking,
Not to mention that you won't stop talking,
Thinking back makes be begin to cry
At the speed that time flies by.


We share so much,
We are best of friends,
I like it, so you like it,
You like it, so I like it,
Really, that is the way it should be,
So very attached are you and me.


Hockey, soccer, basketball,
Obsessed with sports you most certainly are,
My interests reflected no surprise there,
If you choose a different path
Support you will have
No need for math
Hockey player or astronaut,
Soccer dude or robot,
Your Mom and Dad will cheer you on,
You can count on that.


Your love of music makes me smile,
I put on "Hey Brother" and you'll dance a mile,
When you drop the lyrics to Weird Al,
It makes me laugh until I fall,
Your robot dance is a thing of beauty,
Wiggling your hips to Tove Lo even though she's a rudey,
Born Ruffians is a favorite for Jasmine, you and I,
You perk up in your car seat despite your lazy eye,
While going through our music collection time flies by,
Hanging out forever would be just fine, my oh my.


2014 was a pretty awesome year,
Lions game, Canadians game, hockey galore,
All memories with you that I hold dear,
2015 promises to hold so much more.

Hanging at Strong Start or swimming at the pool,
Everything you do with an element of cool,
You really appreciate the little things in life,
Spending time with you I forget all strife.

A baby, then a toddler, now a little man,
I count myself lucky to be your number one fan.
Your manners and compassion are something I desire,
Living your life with so much fire.

Money and possessions can come and go,
But you'll be by my side, that is so.
Jasmine loves you, and Mom loves you it's true I know,
But no one loves you more than me, I am willing to bet all my dough.

Monday, 24 November 2014

The Schedule Keeps Me Regular

As I sit in a sleepy daze at my desk this morning I am contemplating my week ahead.  I don't have a ton of things on my plate, but there is enough to do that I will be kept busy every day.  I like to write out a little weekly schedule so that I have a little less anxiety.  It is nice to have the visual plan so that I don't feel too overwhelmed if a planned task or fun activity gets missed as I can often find time later in the week to fit it in.  This schedule is also where I write down anything I have to do at a certain time that isn't quite as flexible.  A few things each week would fall into that category and this week is no different.  Asher and I are bringing my car in for an oil change tomorrow, and we will do our weekly grocery shopping afterwards.  Instead of being off on Thursday this week, I will be renewing my level 1 first aid certification.  It's not mandatory, but I have plans to take the kids to the hockey game Tuesday night, and I have my own hockey game to play on the Thursday night.  Many of the things that find their way onto my weekly schedule are there somewhat unnecessarily.  No, I am not going to forget completely about my game Thursday night if it isn't written down.  What the sheet stops me from doing that had driven me a little mad over the period of my adult life was my habit of continuously going through my mental to do checklist.  I would do this all day every day and often it would distract me from enjoying the moment that I am currently in.  For example, rather than be racking my brain trying to remember what it is I have to do the next day just that the list exists is enough to stop me from mentally created the list which in turn doesn't allow me to focus and/or enjoy whatever it is I am currently doing.

I can't tell you if my life changes much without "the list" but at this point the habit has become too engrained for me to chance it.  I feel out of sorts if that lists isn't written up on the Saturday or Sunday.  I am usually overly ambitious when writing the list, and I am proud of myself if at the end of the week the essential things have been done or attended and at least some of the optional things have happened.  One of the reasons I started to do this was because I would go through my 3 days off without having done anything really.  Nothing had been done that I could point to and say, "See!  I did something!"  Asher coming along has made me much more of a go getter in my downtime.  Gone are the days when I would just zone out on the online poker tables, or watch numerous sporting events all evening only later stopping to wonder where the time went.  Don't feel bad for me.  I'm not filling my schedule with arduous tasks and endless chores.  They are in there too, but the main point of the schedule is to make sure we don't miss Strong Start, or swimming, or skating, or the library, or the hockey game, etc.  I also feel quite guilty when I skip things that are for the kids, and the visual browbeating that the schedule provides means that we miss stuff way less often then we might without it.  Busy is a good thing, especially when you have a pint sized sidekick that nearly without fail will go along with every idea you come up with.  There is really something special about how revered I am by the little guy.  I don't want to let him in on the secret and spoil the fun.  Let Asher go on thinking that I am really cool. 

Despite having a fulfilling life with days consumed by fun and commitments, I still find the time to watch plenty of movies, read fairly regularly, and also to keep up on a handful of sitcoms that Sheila and I both enjoy.  I'm going to keep today's post rather brief, leaving off with an unsolicited look into what I have enjoyed this year in the form of movies, television programs and books.

Books I Have Enjoyed This Year

1)  Paddle Your Own Canoe (2013) - Nick Offerman
2)  The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared (2009) - Jonas Jonasson
3) Looking For Alaska (2005) - John Green
4)  The Gambler (1867) - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
5) Trainspotting (1993) - Irving Welsh
6) The Kite Runner (2003) - Khaled Hosseini
7) Will To Live (2011) - Les Stroud
8) The Fault In Our Stars (2012) - John Green
9) The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden (2013) - Jonas Jonasson
10) Up, Up and Away (2014) - Jonah Keri
11) Poor Folk (1846) - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
12) An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth (2013) - Chris Hadfield

Best Movies of 2014 (In My Humble Opinion)

1) Gone Girl - director David Fincher
2) Chef - director Jon Favreau
3) Snowpiercer - director Bong Joon-Ho
4) Guardians of the Galaxy - director James Gunn
5) The Lego Movie - directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
6) St.Vincent - director Theodore Melfi
7) Big Hero 6 - directors Don Hall and Chris Williams
8) Cold In July - director Jim Mickle
9) X-Men: Days of Future Past - director Bryan Singer
10) Neighbours - director Nicholas Stoller
11) John Wick - director Chad Stahelski
12) Godzilla - director Gareth Edwards
13) Captain America: The Winter Soldier - directors Anthony and Joe Russo
14) How To Train Your Dragon 2 - director Dean DeBlois
15) A Walk Among the Tombstones - director Scott Frank
16) 22 Jump Street - directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
17) The Amazing Spiderman 2 - director Marc Webb
18) 300: Rise of an Empire - director Noam Murro

Movies of 2014 That Sucked (That I Sat Through)

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For
If I Stay
A Million Ways To Die In The West
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Albums I Am Currently Listening To

Ed Sheeran - "x"
Omar Souleyman - "Wenu Wenu"
Run the Jewels - "Run the Jewels 2"
Pink Floyd - "The Dark Side of the Moon"
Passenger - "All the Little Lights"
Born Ruffians - "Birthmarks"
Langhorne Slim and the Law - "The Way We Move"
Duck Sauce - "Quack"
Avicii - "True"
Old Crow Medicine Show - "Carry Me Back"
The Steeldrivers - "The Steeldrivers"
Ozomatli - "Ozomatli"
MO - "No Mythologies To Follow"
Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 - "Many Things"
Sheppard - "Bombs Away"
Spoek Mathambo - "Father Creeper"
Watsky - "Cardboard Castles"
Weird Al - "Mandatory Fun"
Iggy Azalea - "The New Classic"
Ariana Grande - "My Everything"
2 Chainz - "B.O.A.T.S II: Me Time"
Naughty Boy - "Hotel Cabana"
Mr. Scruff - "Friendly Bacteria"
Meghan Trainor - "Title"
Maroon 5 - "V"
Major Lazer - "Guns Don't Kill People ... Lazers Do"
Lindsey Stirling - "Lindsey Stirling"
Ab-Soul - "These Days..."
Afrojack - "Forget the World"
Alexandra Stan - "Cliche (Hush Hush)"
Amos Lee - "Mission Bell"
Asher Roth - "RetroHash"
Bad Boy Bill - "The Album"
Bastille - "Bad Blood"
Beyonce - "Beyonce"
Booka Shade - "Eve"
Ellie Goulding - "Halcyon Days"
Foster the People - "Supermodel"
Goat - "World Music"
Gotye - "Making Mirrors"
The Grascals - "The Famous Lefty Flynn's"
The Howlin' Brother - "Trouble"
Imagine Dragons - "Night Visions"
Jai Paul - "Jai Paul"
FKA - "Twigs EP2"
Disclosure - "Settle"
Diplo - "Express Yourself"
Die Antwoord - "Donker Mag"
Del Mccoury Band - "The Promised Land"
Daily and Vincent - "Daily and Vincent"
Deadmau5 - "while (1<2)"
Collie Buddz - "On The Rock"
Classified - "Classified"
Eliza Doolittle - "Eliza Doolittle"
K-Os - "BLack on BLonde"
Kaskade - "Atmosphere"
Kidstreet - "Fuh Yeah"
Knife Party - "Haunted House"
Lecrae - "Anomaly"
Lorde - "Pure Heroine"
London Grammar - "If You Wait"
Morcheeba - "Blood Like Lemonade"
Mr. Vegas - "Sweet Jamaica"

This isn't a complete list of my current favorites but all of the listed albums I have listened to recently, and would recommend.  My tastes are all over the place, but I tend to listen to upbeat stuff when it fits my mood, and more somber stuff when I am digging it.  I'll be back to add more when I have access to my master collection.

Have a great week all!  Hi Sheila!  and Ed!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Boring Life? Not So Fast.

This little slice of the internet has been pretty much deserted over the last six months.  I've been busy to an extent but for the most part  routines have been formed and myself and the rest of the family have been slogging through them.  Routines aren't bad.  In my opinion one should be quite happy with their routine because for the most part, you should be the one who chose the things that make up said routine.  I know that once you have kids or others that rely on your assistance and support you get less input on the types of things that make up the routine, but for the most part, even the things that your children are involved in are your choice.  If I hadn't actively encouraged Jasmine to join basketball it may never have become so enjoyable for her.  I don't mind in the least driving her to practices and games knowing that she gets so much out of it.  It hasn't all been routine though around the Prosk/Theriault house over the past six months.  We have been lucky enough to get out and smell the roses so to speak.

Over the course of the summer and fall months I managed to take 4 road trips.  Yes, 4.   I think back to the time of my University education when I would wrap up classes for the year and make my annual trek back to Quesnel to live in my parent's basement.  I would have a few weeks of doing almost nothing before the summer jobs would start.  For the most part, the summer jobs consumed all of my time and there was not time or money that would make a road trip possible.  So, yes, I am quite thankful for the opportunities that I took advantage of this year.

Jasmine and I had great fun on our overnight trip to the Robson Valley Music Festival in Dunster.  The trip was cheap (Jas will gladly point out that I love cheap things!) and we enjoyed a really unique experience that very few people know about.  I would guess that at it's peak the crowd swelled to 6 or 7 hundred people on the Friday night that we attended.  The cost was minimal, ticket for me, Jas was free, gas to get there, tiny fee to pitch our tent, and well priced food trucks to eat at.  What we got was a chance to see some unbelievable musicians from all over the world. We got to hear The Chimney Swallows a banjo and guitar folk duo, who's guitarist Raghu Lokanathan I heard for the first time 10 years ago and have been a fan of his ever since.  We heard Quesnel artist Doug Koyama doing his improvisional style electronica music.  As the sky got dark and night moved in, the music just got better and better.  Luke and Tess Pretty, both teenagers killed their set with fast paced instrumental tunes.  Luke on the keyboards (he played 3 different keyboards at the same time) and Tess on the drum kit, they were seasoned professionals.  Luke jumped up and down for 30 minutes while delivering the set and his enthusiasm was infectious.  Next up was Jack Garton and the Demon Squadron.  Jasmine and I had a pretty lengthy debate after the festival about who was the most impressive act we saw.  Jack narrowly lost out to the following act, but it was darn close.  Jack had impressive vocals which he belted out while shredding the accordion (is that a thing?).  I just about fainted when after nailing a verse complete with corresponding accordion riffs, Jack picked up a trumpet with one hand and blasted out a trumpet solo.  His song "Music Is the Key" was my favorite of the evening.  You can check out Jack's music at:

If the night had ended at this point, I would have been satisfied.  It didn't end, and satisfaction continued.  Likely, most of you will die never having heard the artist named Scott Jeffers who performs as the lead of the group Traveller.  It's too bad because you will have missed something so unreal that it is difficult to digest all at once.  I don't just want to see him again, I need to.  I haven't seen a ton of concerts in my life but none of them come close to the show that Scott Jeffers put on.  Jasmine and I voted him the top act of the night.  he didn't have all of his band members with him as they are from Arizona, but he recruited a couple members of Mamguroove to perform with him.  Scott plays the violin in a world fusion style.  The music that he plays has a distinct persian flavour.  When he isn't destroying the violin, Scott picks up the oud, bouzouki or cumbus and expertly shows his chops on all of the lesser known instruments as well.  I was already swooning at this point, and had pulled a reluctant Jasmine up to stand right in front of the stage, when Scott decides it's time to pull out his Freddie Mercury impersonation.  In a word, amazing.  The night rounded out with: 1) Aurora Jane, a trio from Melbourne, Australia, 2) Kinnie Star, an alt rock/hip hop artist from Calgary, and 3) OKA, a reggae/hip hop fusion trio from Australia that we unfortunately were too tired to stay up for as it was past 1 am.  Jasmine and I also enjoyed a couple of hours discovering the Ancient Forest on the way to the festival.  We still chat about how much fun we had, and have been making tentative plans to include next summer's festival in our travel plans.

The last road trip of 2014 for me saw the Prosk men (well, 3 of us anyway) take our almost annual pilgrimage to attend a sporting event or two.  This year, my brother Ian was able to join my dad and I on our drive down to Vancouver.  We crashed at my mom's sister's place.  My auntie Steph, my uncle Fred and their 4 children played host as we had dinner and caught up.  I hadn't seen any of my cousins or my uncle for many years, so it was really nice to get the chance to catch up.  We spent the evening updating each other on our lives before we found some sleeping space to crash for the night.  While my dad and I took off in the morning to see the Whitecaps and Sounders soccer game in Seattle, Ian hung out and visited some more before splurging for his first tattoo at a nearby shop that he had researched.  We met up with him the next day in downtown Vancouver. 

I had never been to Seattle, and with the limited amount of time we got to spend in the city, I still kind of feel like I haven't really seen it.  What I did see, was quite nice.  Dad and I found our hotel and relaxed for a bit before getting our Whitecaps gear on walking towards the stadium.  Seattle has a really cool marketplace called Pike's Market that backs right onto Puget Sound.  Fresh seafood was a given, but there was dozens and dozens of other quirky little shops and stalls.  After checking the market out we continued towards CenturyLink Field.  There were pubs all along the way, and the soccer fans were deep along the sidewalk for the last mile or so towards the stadium.  We were plenty early when we arrived, so the stadium's 67,000 seats stood mostly empty.  Except for the top right corner of the upper bowl.  There, the Southsiders, the top supporters club for the Whitecaps FC had set up shop.  An hour before the game and their group was already hard at work.  Singing endlessly, it was quite a sight.  Dad and I speculated about just how big the crowd would be.  As the warm ups took place, the stands filled.  Soon, our awesome seats at centre pitch 15 rows up were closed in.  We were a lonely couple of Whitecaps supporters in a sea of lime green.  As it turns out some 56,000 fans showed up, making it one of the biggest MLS crowds of the season.  The game itself was a struggle for the Whitecaps.  The Sounders had never lost a game in front of a crowd of 50,000+.  They had lost 1 home game all year.  The Whitecaps have a poor goal scoring record on the road.  There were numerous stats pointing towards a Whitecaps loss.  The Sounders were the best team in the MLS at the time (they went on to win the Supporters Shield awarded to the top team in the league).  I will never forget the out of this world feeling when Kekuta Manneh scored for Vancouver just before half.  Dad and I were jumping up and down wildly screaming and shouting while tens of thousands of other fans were groaning and swearing.  Of course, there were a few hundred other Whitecaps supporters sprinkled throughout the crowd but none that we could see from our spot.  Except for the Southsiders in the upper bowl who's numbers had swelled to around 1,000.  The Whitecaps spent the whole second hanging on for dear life.  They pulled out the win, 1-0.  The Sounders fans were top notch, I have got to say that.  There were a number of times during the game that the entire crowd broke out in song as part of one tradition or another.  The call and response the fans did for the player introductions was chilling.  Likely, this was the best atmosphere I have ever experienced at a sporting event.

While we were waiting to cross the border into the United States in Cloverdale not far from my Aunt and Uncle's house a strange coincidence too place.  I was driving Dad's car and I noticed an Oilers decal on the back of the truck just to our left and ahead.  Mildly amused, I planned to shout to the occupants about their wise choice (lol, not really!).  As we crept a bit closer, I recognized the guy in the back right seat.  It turned out that 4 of the lads from my soccer team in Prince George were in the pick up truck!  Matt, Jeremy, Andy and Nick were riding in Nick's oilers branded pickup.  I had a conversation or two with a couple of the guys who had been considering taking a road trip on the same weekend that Dad and I had already booked.  The chances of being right beside them in the border lineup were slim to say the least.  We chatted away as we slowly moved forward and realized that we would be sitting one section apart at the game.  As the Whitecaps celebrated their Cascadia Cup win after the game (a challenge cup awarded to the winner of the Seattle/Vancouver/Portland season series) I joined the boys in a rousing rendition of "When the Caps Go Marching In".  Dad and I said our goodbyes, badly in need of finding some food.  As we left the game we stopped to hear a few songs from the Sounders resident marching band.  A touch of class, performing even after a home team loss.    Thanks Dad for suggesting and organizing this little jaunt to Seattle.

As we made our way back to Canada the next day we were corresponding with Ian who had made his way downtown.  By the time we arrived in Vancouver, Ian had already checked into the hotel.  Excitement from the soccer game hadn't subsided but now it was time for hockey.  I had seen one Oilers game live a few years ago in Edmonton, but now we were set to see them in Vancouver.  It was the first time I would see a hockey game in the current Rogers Arena.  I did get the chance (thanks Dad!) to see a couple of NBA games in the arena when the Vancouver Grizzlies were a thing.  Ian had recently bought a slick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins jersey, and Dad and I soon changed into our Oilers t-shirts.  We wandered around the downtown core, eventually eating at the mall while doing a bit of shopping.  Vancouverites weren't hostile really, with the odd jab at us for our choice of attire.  We arrived very early for the game, taking in the warm up from up close before finding our seats in the nosebleeds.  The Oilers started out strong but ultimately disappointed us and their other fans in attendance.  Sometimes I wonder why they are "my team".  A huge barrage penalties seemingly did them in and the Canucks took the game in a shootout.

We rounded out our road trip with a return trip to auntie Steph's for turkey dinner.  We got a chance to visit with the family once again, and meet cousin Ben's girlfriend Carolynne.  A few other visitors joined us, and a very nice meal and visit was had by all.  The trip wound down nicely as we headed back to our hotel for one last night.  I didn't spend a cent on anything other than eating and gambling during the trip, which was odd.  I don't tend to splurge too often but usually I find a thing or two to blow my money on.  Not even the outlet mall in Seattle could tempt me to dust off the wallet.  We made our way home on the Monday with a stop at Horstings Farm in Cache Creek.  My Dad had been so very excited on the way down to see that the place had reopened after being closed for a few years.  We picked up some fresh local produce and had delicious sandwiches made with bread that was baked just hours before being used.  A nice way to round out the trip, and perhaps a new go to place on the arduous drives from Prince George to the Lower Mainland.

Here in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada winter has begun but with one little thing missing, the white stuff.  For Asher, winter doesn't start on some arbitrary date.  Nor does he measure winter by the temperature.  There has to be snow, or winter doesn't happen.  Further to that, Asher has convinced himself that once it snows ice will form under the snow and he will be able to play hockey at the outdoor rinks.  Be patient my young man, hockey will come if you wait long enough.  That doesn't mean hockey hasn't been part of our life, in fact, hockey kind of took over as it does annually in September.

Half way through November and I have had the chance to see 4 different hockey teams that I support live and up close.  The Oilers as documented above are a sorry bunch again this year, but I still appreciate the chance I got to see them.  Locally, I am pretty excited about the prospects of all three teams, the WHL Cougars, the BCHL Spruce Kings, and the BCMML Cougars.  I caught the WHL Cougars opening night with my friend while working, then saw them again with Jasmine, Asher and my dad a few weeks later.  The Cougars happened to run into the two best teams in the league on those nights, but overall they are at 11 wins and 11 losses.  The Spruce Kings, who I saw with Sheila, Jasmine and Asher last week also lost when we went.  But, they are looking really good in the standings at 14 wins and 8 losses.  The best team of the bunch is the Major Midget version of the Cougars.  These guys are a bit younger, ranging in age from 15-17.  They were taking on the second place team out of 11 this weekend, so I took the opportunity to catch a game with the guys I work with on Sunday morning.  Ian and his little girl Charlotte joined us at the rink.  Despite it being quite cold, even in the rink, the game was top notch.  These are guys who all have plans to move on further with their hockey, on to junior, and eventually to the professional ranks.  Their desire is high, and it shows on the ice.  The Cougars had knocked off the Giants from Northwest Vancouver 5-1 on the Saturday, so the road team was out for revenge.  Despite getting a number of power plays in the first period the Giants could not find a lead.  The scored really early, only to have the Cougars tie it less than a minute later.  The Cougars took a lead in the second and never looked back.  I was impressed with how physical the game was as well.  Mostly clean, there was a number of huge hits in the game.  Tempers flared at the end of the game, the Giants seemingly frustrated after taking two losses in Prince George after spending 10 hours on a bus travelling.  The wins leave the Cougars at 15 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie.  The Giants are now well back at 12 wins and 4 losses.  I'm going to make a point of seeing more of this bunch.  Not to mention, the games are free!  Jasmine would say: "that's probably your favorite part!"

As this post begins to reach biblical lengths, I can't help but mention one last hockey team.  You see, I would have been foolish to mention the success of the Roseneau Transport Express a few weeks ago, because of course that would have put a terrible hex on the team.  At that point we had played 11 regular season games in the Westwood Pub Prince George Recreational Hockey League with nary a blemish.  11 games, 11 wins.  We finally did go down to defeat last week before bouncing back last night with a narrow 3-2 win.  Our record now stands at 12 wins and 1 loss, good enough for a 6 point lead over the second place team.  My continually improving level of fitness seems to be paying off as I have managed 8 goals and 5 assists in the 8 games that I have played.  Proudly, I have only been called for 1 penalty, and it occurred when I wildly crashed into the goaltender, not because of anything malicious on my part.  After my soccer team took the regular season crown for the over 30 division this year, this whole being on successful teams thing is quite enjoyable.  I could get used it.

Until next time, hi Sheila!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

What Has The Proskitault Posse Been Up To?

I've spent the last number of weeks under mounting pressure in regards to this very blog space.  My most rabid fans have been barraging me with heavy handed reminders that my typing fingers have remained dormant, therefor they have been falling behind on their Prosk and Theriault news.  Of course, those very same fans have also been partly to blame for my lack of writing, as I have been busying spending time with them, and the rest of my family.  It feels like it is time to share a few highlights from a summer busier than any I can remember.  We have been the good kind of busy, with our days full of activity and events, including visiting with family in Richmond, Delta, Quesnel and at home.  Many members of my family discussed how the get their life updates from us through my blog, and I took that as a good sign that I am producing readable content.  Of course, maybe I could provide these updates to interested family members in person, but our modern world dictates my delivery.  Allow me to get on with it, the summer filled with highlights not soon forgotten.

It was just a few days ago that we saw my sister Erin off following what was her longest visit since her returning home from University for the summer days.  It gave us all a chance for a proper visit despite Sheila, Ian and myself having work shifts dotting the schedule.  Erin's long-time partner, and my brother-in-law, Adam was also in Prince George for a few days of spoiling his niece and nephew.  A quick note: Adam and Jasmine together quickly become a whirlwind of split second decision making, which usually devolves into constant eating and fun stuff devoid of any concern for cost.  Jasmine really enjoyed it as a nice escape from my constant cheapness, and I was joking with Adam about his ability to embrace the "never say no" Uncle role.  As if the fun of Erin and Adam visiting wasn't enough, my Auntie came up for a few days from Cloverdale.  I am terrible about keeping up with family members, but this summer has allowed us some time to rectify that.  My Aunt sadly had never met either Jasmine or Asher.  Auntie Steph is as outgoing and fun to be around as I remember, and she fell into favour with both the kids quite quickly.  Asher thinks its funny that adults have aunties but he really didn't mind having another one.  At times over last weekend, Aunties Erin, Paulette, Larissa and Steph were all in the same place at the same time.  With Uncles Adam and Ian also hanging out, Asher and Jasmine were getting spoiled from all angles.

I really can't say thank you enough times for all the treating that occurred.  Auntie Steph treated us to dinner at "Spicy Greens" and the Indian cuisine was bang on.  My sister Paulette celebrated her birthday during the visit, and that dinner happened at "Mr. Mikes".  Adam treated the sushi fans (Jasmine, Ian, Adam and myself) to dinner at "Sushi Star", and the visit was capped with a trip to "Shiraz" Prince George's premier Persian restaurant.  The meals that did happen at our house were great too.  Sheila made a vegetarian gluten free lasagna for our Sunday get together which was celebrating Paulette's birthday, Dad's birthday and Sheila and I were also celebrating our anniversary.  I missed out on my Dad's meat platter, as he filled the barbecue with a variety of cuts and grilled them to perfection.  Sadly, that was the day I was stuck at work.

Now, it may sound like the visit was all about food, but despite our consuming ice cream or frozen yogurt nearly every day of the visit, and my sister actually getting sick due to excessive eating, there were other highlights as well.  Adam, Jasmine, Paulette, Asher and I took in the new and most assuredly cheesy film "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles".  Despite the movies's awful acting, crappy product placement, and utterly awful Michael Bay style action scenes, everyone had a great time.  Asher laid on me throughout the film, and was quite tired.  He would lay his head on my chest for a moment, but as soon as he heard something from the movie, his head would snap back around to check up on what he had missed.  He ended up laying quietly on me for the last hour of the movie, perhaps his calm behaviour was partly due to him being tired (it was bed time ish), but I was pleasantly surprised.  We should be able to try again, as we haven't attempted to attend the theatre with Asher for quite a while.  Another day we all went to Fort George Park where Asher had a blast getting soaked in the water park and the grown ups and Jasmine enjoyed visiting and horsing around a bit.  Grandpa managed to toss his newly turned 33 year old daughter into the water, but alas I had already left for work.  Asher absolutely wore his Uncle Adam out with his constant requests to play sports and goof around.  If Adam managed to convince Asher that he was too tired, he then turned his attention to his Auntie Erin, or his Grandpa, or Auntie Steph.  He really was in his glory with so many willing participants around.  Everyone seemed to enjoy their time together, and it was quite bittersweet when the week came to an end.

With all the dead air around this space, I haven't had a chance to brag about our trip to Richmond that occurred in July.  For the 6 days that Sheila, Jasmine, Asher and I were in the Lower Mainland area, we were able to enjoy some very nice weather.  Only a few sprinkles of rain fell, and we were able to take advantage of the overload of sun.  One afternoon was spent at the ballpark as we took in a minor league baseball game at Nat Bailey Stadium.  I had been to the stadium once as a child, and was motivated to take my son to enjoy the experience.  Asher's patience was tested, as he struggled to sit still long enough to take it all in.  He was struck with tunnel vision, firmly focused on the kids play area.  I finally appeased him, reluctantly, as it was impossible to follow the game from the outfield area where the play place was set up.  I was pleasantly surprised by how into the game Jasmine and Sheila were.  When the Vancouver team turned a slick double play, I was shocked when Jasmine did a huge fist pump and hollered "Yes!".  We enjoyed keeping track of the poor shortstop for the visiting team who made at least 3 errors, as well as a number of other poor plays that didn't count as errors.  We were hosted in Richmond by Jasmine's Auntie Anne and her daughters Nikki and Rhianna.  Sheila and Anne are very good friends, and the kids all had a great time hanging out.  Auntie Anne loves to spoil the kids with her exuberant energy and over the top generosity.  Jasmine enjoyed a sushi dinner with the girls, Auntie Anne more than happy to cater to Jasmine's request.  The girls also had a blast having a sleepover at their dad's place, with Jasmine tagging along.

Our time in Vancouver was filled with fun stuff that I had spent numerous hours carefully planning.  Of course, as the planner of said activities I coincidentally was a part of all the plans.  On one of the first days of our visit, Jasmine and I made our way to the PNE grounds to try out the rides at Playland.  Jasmine has been before, but this was something quite new for me.  I was a wimp growing up.  In more ways than one, I was always playing it safe.  The rides at any amusement park were no exception.  I was afraid of them.  Not just the scariest ones, but almost every ride that rose above a child level of excitement.  I was still like that throughout my teens, and as a young adult, amusement rides never crossed my mind as I never had any interest in trying them.  As Jasmine got a bit older, I had the opportunity to shed my image as a wimp on a few occasions.  A few years ago, on another visit to Richmond there were some rides set up at the local mall near Auntie Anne's.  I bravely jumped on a few rides with Jasmine, but the scariest ones on offer were the pirate ship and high swings.  Hardly enough to shed my wimpy image.  Well, I think it is fair to say that I have shed that image now.  As we made our way through the park in the morning, we quietly tried nearly every ride we came across.  The park was quiet on a weekday morning, filled mostly with daycare groups in color coordinated shirts who stuck to the kiddie rides.

 As we ate our lunch we began to realize that we were well on our way to trying every ride in the park.  We had just come off of the flume ride that oozes character, before fitting in a go on the signature wooden roller coaster.  My wallet had been safely stored in some random girl's purse after heeding the "anything not tied down will likely fall out" warning signs.  I had never been on a roller coaster in my life until earlier in the morning when we had taken a go on the slightly more modern corkscrew roller coaster.  Jasmine and I had to endure our longest wait of the day, but eventually we made it onto the oldest wooden roller coaster in the world.  Somewhat scared, somewhat concerned (the wooden structure was built in 1958), the ride was a blast.  I am starting to realize that stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things is way more fun then sticking to my old boring ways.  Earlier this summer I had a chance to try tubing behind a boat for the first time, again, breaking out of my comfort zone.  As we munched our overpriced lunch at the cafeteria that was devoid of any air circulation whatsoever, Jasmine and I decided we would have to go for it.  Every single ride.  Jasmine even wanted the kiddie rides included which led us to the Merry Go Round and a few other painfully slow ones.  The heat was beating down on us, but our quest would not go unfulfilled.  We braved the Hellevator which involved being sucked straight up in the air for about 200 feet, then unceremoniously delivered straight back down.  All of this in about 5 seconds.  Jasmine challenged me to try some of the tougher rides, but her one and only hang up was a surprising one.  She had no fears about the roller coasters, or the aforementioned Hellevator.  She didn't mind Hell's Gate or the Beach Party.  It was the giant chair swing that she had planned to avoid.  Eventually, her desire to complete our task overcame her concerns about the ride.  The swings are over 200 feet in the air and while riding, I had an overwhelming sense of euphoria overcome me.  I mean, the swings were the highest thing in the whole park.  Riding up above the roller coasters, and the sling shot ride that we didn't pay to go on, it felt a whole lot more dangerous than it really was.  Jasmine came away very happy that she had "manned up", and we set about completing our goal.  The heat began to overwhelm us just as we finished up, and we decided to duck out in order to avoid getting sick.  We strolled back over to our car and took off, and Jasmine spent the rest of the trip happily recounting how we had conquered the Playland challenge.

As Saturday in Richmond rolled around, it was time for the mens to head out for an adventure.  Asher famously declares that things are: "for mens!" in a rather cute but sexist way.  Some of his notions are pretty funny, including his gender classifying of nearly every song he hears.  "Turn this off Dad!  It's a girls song!"  Cute at 3 years old, offensive in a few years.  We will work on that.  Asher didn't need to be convinced that seeing the "B C Whyyyoooons" was a very manly thing to do.  Our afternoon started with a stroll over to the nearest skytrain station.  We got sidetracked by a celebration at a bank near the station.  A very attractive bank employee let us know there was treats and a prize wheel, and of course face painting inside.  Well now, football could wait, face painting was available!  Truthfully, we had plenty of time to spare as I had accounted for these types of distractions when planning the trip.  We patiently waited our turn, and I turned to Asher to ask him what he was going to have painted.  The lady doing the painting turned out to be a professional make up artist.  There would be no squiggly lines on Asher's face loosely resembling cat whiskers.  He could probably ask for almost anything and this professional would accommodate.  Without hesitation, Asher announced his intention: "I want a flower daddy!"  Not wanting to get too creative, Asher had simply seen the flower that the lady had painted on her own face, and decided he wanted one of his own.  She spent 20 minutes giving him the best free face painting I have witnessed, and all concerns about my 3 year old son being sexist went out the window.  He thanked the lady with his toothy grin, and us mens were back on our way.  Asher loved everything about the skytrain.  The ticket machine with the change tinkling down to the bottom, the train itself with its big crowd and bars to hang onto, the little old lady making a fuss over him, and the orange clad people who Asher was happy to note must be headed to the big game as well.  He also had a blast when we went under ground on the skytrain, not having been prepared for what the skytrain was all about.

We arrived downtown and as we emerged from under ground, commotion surrounded us.  I wasn't sure which direction to head, searching around for a map or sign to point me in the right direction.  Before I had a chance, Asher was quickly absorbed in the action on the street to our right.  Little did I know that we had happened upon Granville Street (I believe that's it) which happens to be pedestrian only.  Right where we were, the road had been designated as a busking area.  Two men were mid-act, basketballs spinning wildly as they danced around.  Asher was engrossed until they finished, then he quickly moved down the block where he had noticed a street hockey game going on.  Actually, there were 3 games taking place, part of a charity tournament.  Asher wanted to join in.  Most of the players were adults, with the youngest participants being at least 11 or 12.  I tried to explain this to my little man, but he wasn't too happy.  We watched a while longer, then strolled back towards the street performers.  A young man was doing a juggling act, 2 sticks connected by a string that was used to toss around diabolos (google it, I did).  He did this with up to 3 at a time, taking a number of chances that didn't quite work out.  At one point, he lost a diabolo that skittered away in our direction.  Asher, who had been crouching down as requested by the hype man, rushed over to grab it and brought it back to the performer.  Wanting to hand it right to the guy, Asher patiently waited while the guy continued his routine.  Other group members were gesturing for him to put it down and get out of the way, but Asher was determined to complete his helpful task.  Eventually, he relinquished the apparatus to one of the other guys, and Asher was more than pleased that he was able to help.  Another proud moment for his Pops.  All of a sudden there was a big ruckus coming up the cross street to our left.  A huge protest filled the street and as it moved by I realized what it was.  Some sort of Free Palestine rally was taking place, heading in the exact direction that we needed to go!  It turned out to be a peaceful march with much loud chanting, but devoid of anything more extreme.  It looked to be a crowd of around 5000 people of all walks of life.  We strolled along the street beside the march, Asher blissfully unaware of what we were witnessing.  Being the political nerd that I am, I found the whole thing quite exciting.  Eventually after a fairly long walk, that included walking the circumference of the stadium in order to get to our section, we arrived at B.C. Place Stadium.

We had arrived nearly an hour early, so it gave us plenty of time to visit the inflatable slide and ball pit (really, does every event that may attract kids need this stuff?) .  We fired a few footballs through the target provided, then moved on to find our seats.  Up in the nosebleeds we found our cheap seats.  It worked out, as the view of the field was just fine, and the gigantic scoreboard also gave us a chance to catch plays that we may have missed.  Asher enjoyed pointing out things he saw as the players warmed up.  "Hey Dad!  They are kicking the ball!" "Hey Dad!  The teams is talking to each other!"  Sure enough, he was correct in his observations.  As the players left the field for a bit before the game started, we went and cashed in our vouchers for hotdogs and drinks.  Really, considering the tickets were 30 dollars each, the dry dogs and tiny soda pops were a nice add on.  All the eating and drinking was quite tiring, so after watching the first few minutes of the game Asher fell asleep on my lap for the rest of the first half.  I didn't worry about him "missing out" as I knew that a cranky Asher would make it tough for both of us to enjoy the game.  I did wake him at halftime so that we could run down and grab a Sponge Bob ice cream and take a few more turns down the slide.  In the second half, the Lions continued to pound away on Montreal scoring touchdown after touchdown.  Asher jumped up and cheered wildly for most of the plays, even throwing in an extra big cheer for an awesome catch.  If you know Asher, you know he loves to dance.  He isn't shy about busting out his moves where ever he feels like it.  Between plays he would jump up and do the robot, incorporating a few pop and lock moves that are hilarious to watch.  When the "Dance Cam" came on he gave it his all, but even his break dancing attempt wasn't enough to get him on the big screen.  All in all, us "mens" had a great time. 

As my fingers begin to protest the length of this submission I will leave you hanging at this point.  This riveting summer update will be continued soon with details from our time at both the Vancouver Folk Fest and the Robson Valley Music Festival.  Yes, my music addiction has only been strengthened by 2 awesome days.  Details to come.  Over and out.

Monday, 16 June 2014

The Remax Balloons Rule the Roost!

It has been a pretty busy couple of months at the Prosk/Theriault household.  Sheila has been busy gobbling up extra hours at work, staying late after shifts and going in on Saturdays to catch up.  I have been trying my best to keep up, working a couple of extra shifts last week, and another one again this week.  Sheila and I have joked regularly about how she is the family breadwinner, even more so now after she earned herself a significant raise recently.  I don't mind in the least, and have made a concerted effort recently to step up in the domestic duties department.  I have been doing the grocery shopping for most of 2014, and even Sheila will admit, I have done a bang up job.  The basement freezer has gone from empty to overflowing, as I am not afraid to buy volume if the price is right.  I have made more dinners, washed more dishes, vacuumed more floors, and folded more laundry then I ever have before.  Let's not get carried away, I went from not nearly enough helping to almost enough helping, but progress is being made.

When I am not busy with the tasks of keeping the house liveable, Asher, Jasmine and I have been more than busy soaking up the spring sunshine and playing every sport imaginable.  When I ask Asher what he would like to do, the answer almost every time recently is: "Dad!  Let's walk to the high school and play baseball!"  We walk the kilometer or so to the high school diamond, not forgetting to pack our bat, our gloves, our baseball, and our most recent acquisitions: an elbow pad for batting, and an umpire's brush for sweeping off the plate.  My son, who is not quite 3 and a half, can throw a strike from 20 feet away.  Now, I don't know how crazy that is really, but most children his age have no clue how to hold a ball in order to throw it.  The actual act of throwing it is far beyond the scope of possibilities.  Last night, Asher was figuring out how to squeeze his glove when the ball goes in, so he doesn't drop it.  He managed to hold on a number of times before getting bored with baseball.  The last time we were at the diamond Asher squared up a number of hits, including one he hit so hard that the grounder made it past me and all the way to the outfield grass.  Oh, and it's not just baseball.  That last trip to the school, we brought along our football and a soccer ball as well.  Asher thought it was pretty cool that we were going to play all 3 sports before coming home.  Unfortunately, during our spirited game of soccer, I was defending Jasmine pretty hard (next goal was the winner), and due to us being in bare feet she bent her big toe the wrong way, leaving her pretty badly incapacitated.

While Jasmine hasn't been and won't be as sports obsessed as her dad or her brother, she also loves to be active.  In the past week she and I have had a chance to toss a football a few different times, we stopped and played basketball at the school, we bounced on the trampoline together, she joined Asher and I for a game of baseball, she regularly rides her bike to school, not to mention the ill-fated soccer game on top of her regular soccer sessions with her team.  Toss in a couple of trips to the swimming pool and I think Jasmine is doing a decent job of staying active.  Her toe injury has laid her up a bit for the last couple days, and she will likely have to miss her second soccer game tonight, but she should be as good as new before long.  Of all the casual sports activities she has been doing, it's her skill with a football that has been most impressive.  She is a rather tall 11 year old with long arms and legs, a rather ideal build for both throwing and catching the football.  And wow, throw the ball she does.  Again, I have no idea how a typical 11 year old throws a football, but my girl has a pretty serious arm.  She can hit me from 15 yards no problem, and even at 20 with a little less accuracy.  With more practice her already solid catching ability will only get better.  I started out jokingly suggesting she try football, but as we have played catch more and more she has warmed to the idea.  I have made it clear to her that she is pretty good with this throw and catching, it's the whole  tackling and blocking thing that she may find tough.  She is not exactly a violent person.  We are still contemplating the idea of joining the football league, Jasmine's one condition being that I need to coach in some way.  It made me all warm and fuzzy knowing that she still wants Pops be her side when she jumps into these things.  If she ends up playing, I have told her that yes, I'll be there to try it out with her.

Aside from all of our backyard sporting activities, we have been more than busy with organized soccer.  Since the start of May we have been at the fields on Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night and Saturday mornings.  I have had a lot of fun coaching Jasmine and Asher's teams, unfortunately both teams have played at 9 am Saturday morning for most of the season.  This past Saturday was a rare chance to coach both teams as the games were scheduled for 9 and 10 o'clock.  I love see the little guys every Saturday, all so very cute in their too big jersey's, and their shorts and socks that cover every inch of their legs.  We only had 5 boys this week as it was a busy weekend for many families, and the blustery wind may have kept a few away too.  The boys have a hard time having any kind of a game at this age, but this week both teams did really well.  The game went for over 20 minutes, easily the longest game of the season.  Asher is always engaged in the game, but this time a few others joined him, and between the 2 teams there was only the coaches and 1 or 2 other parents on the field, also a big accomplishment in the under 3 division.  My son, without being too dramatic, is far beyond the level of the other boys.  I didn't realize that our frequent goofing around sessions in the basement and in the yard would lead to him being a "Ronaldo" of sorts.  With his uncle Ian and his cousin Charlotte at the field watching Asher managed 11 goals, 10 of them on the right net.  After high fiving all the boys for their effort, Asher and I made our way over to the bigger fields where Jasmine's team was getting ready to start their game.

The game was set to start as we arrived on the sidelines.  My co-coach Brady was finishing off the warm up with the girls, and I joined in to run sideline to sideline a few times with the girls.  The turnout was notably sparse.  Jasmine was pitch side, but in her clothes, sitting in a lawn chair due to her previously mentioned injury.  The 11 and 12 year old girls play on a 3/4 sized field, 8 players on at a time instead of the standard 11 players on the full sized field.  Looking around, we only had 7 girls.  Bizarrely, the turn out has been better for our Wednesday practices then it has been for games.  We had 12 girls at our last practice.  This day, we would play without Jasmine, without Autumn, without Payden, without Kate, and without Nyiesha.  The Remax Balloons (as the girls coined themselves) did have 7 players ready to go, including our 2 first year players Ariel and Kyrija, as well as our best player Taylor, and our best defender Kayla.  We also had a goalie, Taryn, ready to go.  We also had Katie and Carah who would fill out the 3-3-0 formation that we were set to play.  Yes, we had to go without a forward due to being short a player.  Most of the girls are not prepared to play the whole game, so this would be quite a monumental ask of them.  Oh, did I forget to mention that of our previous 10 games, we had lost all 10 of them?  To top it off, for some reason, the girls are at their worst on Saturday mornings, Brady having had to witness a 9-1 dismantling and a 10-2 debacle the previous 2 weeks.  On this day though, something special happened.

The Remax Balloons didn't have just one or two girls working hard and playing their best, all 7 girls decided that it was time to see what they were capable of.  Taylor is the straw that stirs the proverbial drink.  She has significant amounts of skill, but her main advantage is her aggressive and constant pursuit of the soccer ball.  On this day, we were asking her to play centre midfield, striker, and even help out on defence.  And she did. 

The girls started the game very well, and Brady and I quickly took note of the level of aggression that Carah was playing with.  She hasn't made it to too many of the games, so we still didn't have a good idea of how she played.  Carah has played many different positions this season when she has been at games, but this week, she was playing left defence.  Wow!  As they say in soccer, she plays a "heavy game".  Every other girl on our team suffers from simply being "too nice" on the soccer pitch.  Even those like Taylor, Autumn and Payden who play quite aggressively will slow down or take it easy when they think that a collision or physical confrontation is approaching.  Not Carah.  At times on Saturday, she even appeared to enjoy the physical part of the game.  Now, we as coaches are not about to encourage the girls to commit fouls or to play dirty, but Carah's approach to the game leaves us in a limbo of sorts.  She is fairly new to the game, so if we tell her to slow down, she may slow down too much.  We don't want her to hurt anyone else or herself, but the way I saw it, she was providing the muscle for our team that had been so sorely lacking.  The referee was on his game and called a few fouls, which were warranted as Carah was around the ball constantly during the game.  She combined with Kayla, who always plays a very steady centre defence to smother the other team.  Kayla's game is quite the opposite of Carah's.  Never one to commit a foul, but also never one to give up on a play, Kayla plays a smart soccer game.  She is the stay at home defender who covers for her teammates who stray out of position.  So steady is she, that often she is taken for granted by myself and Brady (her dad).  Katie rounded out the defensive group with a very good effort herself.  She is one of our regular defenders as well, and she was at her best Saturday making smart safe passes away from our goal and up towards our midfield attackers.  Our goalie Taryn only had a couple of shots, and they were slow rollers that she easily picked up. 

The key to the Remax Balloon's first win of the season was not the steady and always reliable play of Taylor, or even the stout and impenetrable defence provided by Carah, Kayla and Katie, it was the effort put out by our two first year players, Ariel and Kyrija.  Now, when the season started I'll admit that I was pretty surprised that of the 12 girls on the roster, 2 of them would be playing for the first time.  When I met the girls, and saw them play for the first time, neither of the new girls would be considered "a natural".  I immediately took a liking to both girls, but for different reasons.  Ariel struck me as bit hard headed, she has a bit of a tough attitude, and she demonstrated this famously by quipping towards the end of our second game: "I f---ing hate soccer!!"  After I inquired as to why, she pointed out: "I'm only playing because my foster mom made me!  I wanted to sign up for karate!"  Oddly enough, she had put forth a strong effort in the game, and I was more then happy to point out to her how well she played.  "You may hate it, but this soccer might be your thing," I replied.  Kyrija her aunt told me was trying out sports for the first time.  She and her mom had encouraged Kyrija to step out of her comfort zone and try a few new things, and soccer was one of them.  Kyrija is quite a small girl, and due to her unfamiliarity with soccer, she is nervous about being run into, she is worried about being hit with the ball, and she has no clue what to do as far as positioning on the field goes.  Brady and I have continued to assign her a position, but for the most part we just ask her to try her best.  A few weeks ago, she was running around the field doing what appeared to be a form of interpretive dance.  Some games, the game is the furthest thing from her mind.  On this particular Saturday morning, Ariel did not hate soccer, and most certainly Kyrija's mind was focused on soccer. 

The first goal of the game came due to a herculean effort from Ariel. I have been more than impressed all season by her willingness to give maximum effort on the field.  Many girls in this age group never sprint full out.  They refuse to kick the ball as hard they can, perhaps worried about hurting someone.  Not Ariel.  She has become our throw in specialist simply because she rears back and throws the ball with all of her strength.  On this play, she fought to take the ball from a defender, then made a solid pass to Taylor.  Taylor played a lead ball down the pitch, too far for Ariel.  As the defender went back to collect it, she was surprised when she looked up because Ariel and sprinted down the field and applied pressure.  The defender rushed, and made a dangerous pass towards the middle of the field.  Taylor got to the ball first and after a strong first touch she slotted the ball into the back of the net.  Brady and I were beaming.  This was the first time all season that we had been ahead!  I was happy for all of the girls, but Ariel most of all.  She simply isn't aware of what she is capable of.  The game continued, and Carah and Kayla continued to play stifling defence giving the other team very few chances to score.  I pointed out to Brady that Kyrija was way more involved in the play than she ever had been before, even getting her foot to the ball on a few occasions.  Already having touched the ball more times than she had all season, she got herself involved with a bit of traffic in the other teams box.  The ball squirted out to her where she put her foot to the ball and hit it towards the net.  As the ball slowly rolled towards the far post, I momentarily convinced myself that it was headed in.  Alas, it lacked the power to elude the goaltender, but that didn't stop Brady and I from celebrating another victory for the team.  Moments afterwards, perhaps buoyed by the effort from her less skilled teammates, Taylor took advantage of a loose ball and blasted in a second goal.  This one from at least 25 yards out, a distance that most of the girls wouldn't even think to be shooting from.  As the minutes wound down, and a win became more and more a possibility, I couldn't help but smile uncontrollably.  Jasmine had provided a cheering section from the bench, and she quite enjoyed the win despite her injury.  We got a chance to celebrate afterwards, 2 of the girls winning a soccer game for the first time in their life.  Tonight we get a chance to do it all again, maybe those who missed the game Saturday will be inspired to get a win of their own.  All I know, is that I am still beaming with pride from the last game.

That about does it for me.  I hope you have enjoyed my rambling account of a pretty fun Saturday morning at the soccer field.  I had a great Father's Day yesterday even though I fell asleep during the family movie.  I dozed off on the sofa before 8 pm only to wake up 7 hours later and crawl upstairs and into bed.  We have another busy week ahead before soccer ends for the summer.  Take care Mom, Sheila, Elizabeth and my other three readers!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Lists: Here is where I tell you what you should like, cuz well, I like it.

This edition of lists was inspired by the super cute movie "Good Burger" that Jasmine, Sheila and Asher and I watched last night.  The movie was released in 1997 though I never saw it at the time.  It will find a place in my "Favourite family movies of the 1990s" list that includes a few of my all time favorite movies.  Enjoy.

Matt's Favourite Family Movies of the 1990s

20) Good Burger
19) George of the Jungle
18) Heavyweights
17) Toy Story
16) Beauty and the Beast
15) Angels in the Outfield
14) The Santa Clause
13) Casper
12) The Lion King
11) The Little Rascals
10) Space Jam
9) The Sandlot
8) Simon Burch
7) Hook
6) The Secret Garden
5) Aladdin
4) The Mighty Ducks
3) Free Willy
2) Matilda
1) Harriet the Spy

notes:  I actually had a hard time narrowing this list to 20.  The top 4 rank among my favourite movies ever.  Some of these I haven't seen in at least 15 years, and will enjoy watching them again with Jasmine over the next few months.  Some of these I have seen dozens of times.  Free Willy probably has the most viewings out of the whole bunch.  We wore that VHS tape out at Mom and Dad's. 

Matt's Favourite Autobiography/Biography Books

12) Man In The Middle - John Amaechi
11) Tales of a First Round Nothing - Terry Ryan
10) Heart For the Fight - Brian Stann and John Bruning
9) Leon Trotsky: A Revolutionary's Life - Josh Rubenstein
8) Roseannearchy - Roseanne Barr
7) The Call Me Baba Booey - Gary Dell'Abate
6) Cheech and Chong: The Unauthorized Biography - Tommy Chong
5) Bossypants - Tina Fey
4) Open - Andre Agassi
3) Nerd Do Well - Simon Pegg
2) Paddle Your Own Canoe - Nick Offerman
1) Last Words - George Carlin

notes: Funny people often write funny books.  Currently reading Nick Offerman's book, and the man is quite frankly a wordsmith. 

Matt's Favourite Sports Right Now

8) Lacrosse
7) Golf
6) Football
5) Basketball
4) Running
3) Hockey
2) Baseball
1) Soccer