Monday, 28 March 2016




This year's basketball season was up and down just like the dribbling of a basketball.
Olivia's first year playing b-ball started with a lot of excitement. Mid season was a drag (literally). But, by the final game the excitement was back up there it was the high point of the year. 
Just like Elliott and his hockey season, there were a lot of life lessons learned on the court. Olivia perfected her pre-event preparation by always getting her special basketball clothes out and ready hours before having to leave. It also became clear that Olivia does not like the same sort of fanfare that typically accompanies the kid's sport - a benchload of fans cheering for her is not her thing. And, as with many things in life she is slow to warm up to new things. The first few months of basketball saw her lay back and get a feel for the game, the next few months saw progressive involvement, and then the last game saw a full on commitment. She learned that actually getting in there and being competitive was enjoyable. She also found a new sport that she is good at, confident in, and wants to improve in. After her Pete Peterson League finished she continued on playing more ball by joining the basketball team at school.
Libby shoots...
Libby guards...
Libby rebounds...
Parent lesson learned - Sports mean different things to different kids. They have different motivations, reactions, and passions. Even as a quasi expert basketball player, parents do not always need to give out unsolicited advise or analyze the game. Sometimes it's best not to talk about the game on the ride home. Start with 'how do you feel you did?' then go from there. Some days it will end with a 'fine' and sometimes it will last a little longer.
One fun fact the parent's learned - You can make it from The Place Under The Pine to the court (downtown) in 9 mins if you hit every single green light.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016



The transition times of the year, the beginning of spring or the cooling of autumn, seem to draw the citizen of the Place Under The Pine to the woods. This is the time when exciting things are happening in nature.
Spring: the melting of the snow, the return of the birds, the budding of leaves.
Fall: the frosting of the ground, the migration of the birds south, the falling of the leaves.

It seems to be the water that attract the younger citizens. Every time they come home from a springtime walk in the woods their little rubber boots are holding water.

It does not seem to matter if there are ice chunks floating down the creeks they still get wet - and do not complain about being cold afterwards.

And the deeper the water the better, obviously.

Doesn't falling water bring a smile to your face too?

They are like little beavers. The goal is often to build a dam across any flow of water.

Happy Spring.

Friday, 18 March 2016



The citizens of the Place Under the Pine have been in hibernation mode lately - due to the fact that it is winter. The cold weather, the dark nights, and the hours spent in front of the laptop watching Youtube (did you know that This Old House has 100's of videos on there now?!) are just some of the reasons the Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip has been made many times over the past couple of months. As one citizens says, 'it makes an ideal late night snack'.
It could be just what the body is looking for on a winter's night - it's hot, it's flavourful, and it is full of calories (aka the energy to keep you warm). It is a great way to use up any extra chicken you have as well.

1-2 chicken breasts
1 block of cream cheese (do not skimp with low fat)
1/2 cup Blue Cheese dressing or if you are out of that Ranch dressing will work (again, do not skimp with low fat dressing)
1/2 cup grated cheese
1/4 cup + 'a splash' of Red Hot sauce

Leftover chicken chopped up. Cream cheese added

The PC Blue Cheese is our dressing of choice

Cheddar cheese is recommended

Remember to add an extra 'splash' of Red Hot after the 1/4 cup is measured

Now blend!

Throw this in the oven at 350 for about half an hour. When it is bubbling around the outside and it has turned a toasted-orange colour (if it were a paint chip it would be called Tuscan Sunset) it is done. You will notice I did not post a picture of it - it is not very photogenic. So, do not judge this dip by its look.
Serve with nachos, baked pita chips, carrots...even Triscuits will do in a pinch. You should have left overs, no judging if you don't, that can be put in the fridge and reheated in the microwave the next day. Happy eating.

Thursday, 10 March 2016



Many of the citizens of the PUTP are letting out a sigh of relief knowing the hockey season is now over. "What are we going to do with our weekends now," is a comment that will be heard often over the next month or so. To say that weekends are dictated by the hockey schedule is no joke. Throughout the entire winter every Saturday and Sunday has hockey scheduled into it. Hockey is a big commitment. And sometimes, like this year, this commitment takes place at 6 in the morning.

There are many benefits to this time consuming / early morning schedule:
1) A reason to get up at 5:30 am in the middle of winter
2) A reason to get out of the house before the sun rises
3) A reason to get out of the house and get some fresh air and sunshine when you'd rather burrow down into the couch and eat chips
4) A reason to meet up with family and friends (when you'd rather burrow down in the couch with a bag of Doritos)
5) The most important reason is because Eli loves playing

Here is a video showing a few snippets of the season.

Although hockey does bring on a few challenges, the benefits far outway the costs. Many life lessons are learned at the rink - for both kids and parents.

For the player: Eli has not only learned physical skills like skating and shooting, but, more importantly he has learned some wonderful social skills. Being part of a team has made him more empathetic. He has had a chance to see that the world is made up of many people. The team can only succeed if they all work together. Eli has taken this attitude and run with it. He is constantly celebrating his teammates successes. The first comments when he hits the changeroom is about his team - "Mikey scored four goals today!" - while being humble about his skills - "Sure, I scored two, but, it was only because Alyson was so good on defense". This life skill, of seeing the big picture, is a tough lesson to learn, but, hockey (or any team sport) allows this to happen.
This year the season was loaded with dawn cracking early morning games. Eli quickly learned another important life lesson - planning ahead. The night before he would be the one getting out his clothes for the morning, he was the one questioning bed time (is 7 early enough?), and he was the one that requested getting up an hour earlier than required so he'd have time to wake up, and time to get mentally prepared. He learned a lot about himself with those early morning games, about how his mind and body work, and that he does not do well when rushed. And he was the one who found a solution to that by getting up earlier. Pretty impressive for a six (now seven) year old.

For the parent: Hockey is another time you have to let go of your child and allow them to explore the world by themselves. If you look around at the other hockey parents you will see a wide range of reaction to this loss of control. The extremes range from totally ignoring all that goes on to yelling instructions from the stands. It is tricky finding the ideal balance of being involved and letting your child discover the world of hockey for themselves.
If you are looking for some advice from a great hockey parent, or at least the parent of a great hockey player - check out Walter Gretzky's book. He is the father of The Great One - Wayne Gretzky. In his book he talks about how he approached hockey when his children were young. He gave the kids some general advice, but, he never told them what to do. He let them explore the game for themselves. Experimenting, trying new things, learning new skills - that's what keeps the game fun.
As a parent, hockey is one of those lesson in restraint. There are times you want to yell from the stands. There are times you want to push your little player because you know they can skate faster. There are times you want to correct them, tell them how you think they should be playing the game. It is easy to get caught up in the game. The game. That is the lesson here for us parents - it is only a game. In the grand scheme it doesn't matter if they win or lose. It doesn't really matter if they skated as fast as you thought they could. They are out there to learn a game, make friends, and just have fun. It is a tough exercise in restraint, but, one with great satisfaction when you find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat watching your little one try out that ridiculous move they invented in the backyard (the triple deke, kick the puck with your skate, do a twirl and slap shot it) and actually score with a goal with it. Then have their teammates crowd around high fiving them while they humbly try to give credit to their teammates great passing play. It is well worth the effort and the tired mornings.