Thursday, 3 November 2011

Avery's Perspective

If you are a friend of mine on facebook, you have probably heard that I am not feeling well right now.  I know . . . . I am a HUGE whiner!  Sorry!  You may also know that I have not been very consistent with my blogs lately, and I set out to change that this week until the dreaded head cold hit.  As I was eating my breakfast this morning trying to come up with something to appease my audience and to break my sporadic blogging habit, I looked over at Avery, who was chuckling to himself while writing his journal entry.

"What are you laughing about?"


"It clearly isn't nothing."

"I'm writing about last night."


Then it hit me!  Avery can write a guest post for me today.

So it here it is . . .  completely uncensored.  I only changed the spelling of a few words so you could understand what he was saying.

It was 7pm and I was telling jokes.  I looked at Elliot and said "I'm Mort, and I like your tooties!".  Zoe and Elliot laughed but mom told me to stop but I didn't.  I said it again. "I'm Mort and I like your tooties!".  Mom was not feeling good and I thought this was an awesome time to do it but she did not.  She put me in my room.  I kept on saying it and she turned off my light and shut the door.  She made me go to bed.  I learned a lesson to never make my mom fart . . .

"What?!  That's not what happened.  Avery when you write a journal entry it is okay to make a funny ending but you have to keep it truthful, and I did not fart.  Please fix it"

With a smirk on his face, Avery agreed.

I learned a lesson to never tease a fat, grumpy bear!

I can't argue with that.

tee hee!

p.s. I would like to note here that there was a whole lot more going on here than a few silly jokes.  For starters, it was 8:30 pm and it was time to go to bed.  Secondly, Avery, while telling the jokes, was chasing Elliot around the room and tackling him.  Thirdly, well, yeah, I was a fat, grumpy bear last night and wanted nothing more than to put an end to this very long day.  Please do not judge me . . . tee hee!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Demise of Childhood

I did something terrible tonight.

Yes, even more terrible than not blogging for a month.  Oh, sure you laugh. But I am serious!  I have done the worst thing a mother can do.  I have taken a sweet, innocent child and turned him into a corrupt gangster. 
Here's how it all went down:

Elliot and I were driving home from his InterAction Theatre class.  It was just the two of us in the car, and we were enjoying this rare moment of one-on-one time.  Ever since the snowstorm on Sunday, my kids have been obsessed with Christmas, and have spent the past few mornings poring over catalogues and commercials coming up with this year's Christmas list.  So, it was no surprise to me when Elliot began sharing some of his thoughts on the best Christmas presents this year. 

"Can I ask Santa Claus for a dirt bike?"


"Why not?"

"It's too much money, and Santa does not bring large presents like that."

You see where this is going don't you?

"Mom, who really buys the presents?  Is Santa real?"

Being the experienced parent I am and having gone through this with Zoe only three years prior, I didn't even flinch.

"What do you think, Elliot?"

"I think you buy the toys.  Am I right?"

"Yes you are, Elliot."

Then there was silence.  I had not expected this.  Zoe was elated to finally be granted access to the realm of adulthood and all of its secrets, but poor Elliot looked like he was going to throw up.

"Are you okay, Elliot?"

"Why did you tell me this!  What were you thinking?  No, I am not okay!   You have destroyed my life!"

And there he sat trying to put the pieces of his life back together.

I was crushed.  In a brief moment of insanity, I forgot that not all kids are alike, and just because Zoe was ready for this information at 10, does not mean Elliot was ready. 

"But, you asked.  I thought you knew.  I'm sorry, Elliot."

"The next thing you are going to tell me is there is no Easter Bunny . . . . . . . . . . . wait . . . . . . . are you serious?  So, basically, any body who "visits" on the holidays is a lie?"

and so on and so on.

As we pulled up to the house, he refused to get out of the car because he didn't know if he could face Avery.  He began to stress over the fact that he now had to keep this secret. 

"I need some time, Mom.  You can't just spring this on me a couple of minutes before we get home."

So, we sat in the car . . .

and sat and sat.

Finally, he decided to go in and talk to Mr. Level-Headed.  As he passed through the door, with his head down and a look of utter despair on his face, he whispered to me:

 "I don't think I can go on living anymore."

What is a parent to say?  

Tears sprang to my eyes, and I wished with all my heart that I could go back in time.  Back when my boy was still a little boy.  Back when life was magical for him.  Back when a jolly man dressed in red would make his wishes come true for one day of the year.  Back just twenty minutes ago!!

But I can't, and neither can Elliot.

After I tucked him into bed and kissed him goodnight, Elliot peeked down over the bar on his top bunk, and gestured for me to come back.  My heart stopped.  I had been beating myself up all evening over my mistake and didn't think I could take any more reminders of how I had destroyed his life.

"What is it, Love?" 

And with his infamous devilish grin, Elliot whispered:

"I now know your weakness", as he pointed to Avery.


And there you have it . . . the evolution of a blackmailer!

I am in so much trouble.

tee hee!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

A Weekend of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday of the year.  Sure Christmas and birthdays are pretty awesome, but for me, they will always come in second place.

First of all, Thanksgiving means the return of turkey dinner after months of nothing but BBQ's and salads.  Mmmmm . . . . I love turkey, stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes smothered in gravy, mom's squash casserole, and lots of pie and other yummy desserts.

Second of all, Thanksgiving brings the first long weekend of the new school year, and to celebrate, I decided to lay in bed extra late reading a book, while my boys spread mayhem throughout the house.  Bliss!  Then, Mr. Level-Headed suggested we go to St. Martin's for the day.  Double Bliss!  And with the phenomenal weather we had this weekend, we couldn't have picked a better day. 

The sun was shining, the leaves were falling, and the kids were filled with shenanigans.

They have titled this one "Epic Awesomeness"!

Elliot trying to catch the scent of our car.  Okay, so I kind of lead us in the wrong direction . . . oops!

Elliot exploring his inner monkey.

Who am I kidding . . . I was filled with it too.

But in all seriousness, though, my number one reason for placing Thanksgiving above all the other holidays is that on a Thanksgiving weekend twenty years ago, I met this guy:

And even though our story is not that unique:

we met, fell in love, got married, bought some dogs, had some kids

(maybe not in that exact order . . . oops!),

it's been pretty amazing, and I look forward to seeing what the next twenty years bring.

I love you, Mr. Level-Headed!

Even if you do not appreciate my public displays of affection . . .

tee hee!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Group of Two

With all the rain we have had lately, I thought this would be a perfect time to share a few photos from one of our recent outdoor art classes.  Since September, we have been studying Canada, and I have tried to incorporate a Canadian theme into our art lessons.  So, it goes without saying we have spent a couple of weeks studying the Group of Seven.  Much to my surprise, the boys are loving art class!  Sure, it pales in comparison to our weekly skates at the Qplex, bikes rides, swimming, and our soccer and football games, but, nonetheless, they seem to really enjoy painting, drawing, and working with clay.  This thrills me to no end because it adds an additional layer, perhaps a more sensitive layer to the always wrestling, refusing-to-change-their-underwear, rough and tumble boys I deal with everyday.

Here they are quietly studying the "Canadian landscape".  Oh, and yes, in case you have forgotten, it is sunshine that is lighting this picture up and warming their little bodies so they do not have to wear a jacket . . . tee hee!

They started with viewfinders to help them narrow down the area they wanted to concentrate on.

They sat here for forty-five minutes drinking in their surroundings and drawing what they saw.  Needless to say, I was shocked!

While they drew, I talked to them about drawing what they saw rather than what they think things look like, and I was happy to see what they came up with.


Elliot's (our neighbour's house on the water)

Then we headed back into the house to transform their drawings into paintings (the tricky part).

Elliot found this particularly challenging:

But he stuck with it, and I am glad he did because his painting turned out awesome.



And just for a while I thought, maybe, just maybe these boys have more Skov-Nielsen in them than just their looks; however, this thought quickly diminished as soon as they started their plans for a monthly art sale held at our house, where their priceless treasures could be auctioned off at top dollar . . . tee hee!

Yep, they're Websters through and through (with just a sprinkling of Skov-Nielsen).

Oh, and before you go and think: "Wow! That Krista is doing some amazing things with her boys", (cuz I know that's what you're thinking . . . tee hee!), here was today's art lesson:

Maple Leaf Foxes!
(Maple Leaf = Canadian, so we are good, eh?)

Meet Bling Bling Fox (Avery's):

And Phoenix the Fox, whom I am told by Elliot is a little crazy, which is indicated by his "crazy" eyes:

They are so cute!!  I have my awesome sister, Hilary, to thank for this great craft idea.

So, yeah.  I haven't been blogging much lately, but, as you can see, we've been pretty busy around here and up to lots of shenanigans. 

I'll keep you posted on our upcoming art auction.  I'm guessing Phoenix will go for big bucks! 

Tee hee!


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

A Beautiful Fall Beach Day

Summer here in New Brunswick can be pretty icky with all the fog keeping everything cool and damp, but Autumn never disappoints with it's warm sunshine and brilliant colours.  As wonderful as Fall typically is, though, what we have enjoyed the past couple of days has been out-of-this-world amazing.  Holy heat, Batman!  With summer finally arriving, the boys and I took full advantage of such a beautiful afternoon and headed to the beach.  I must tell you, we got some pretty strange looks standing on the ferry with all of our beach gear in hand from our fellow ferry passengers.  Or were they looks of envy?

When we arrived at the beach, we were shocked to see that the only other beach dwellers that day were a sunbather, a reader, and this deer.

I don't know how this woman was able to keep her cool?  I would be freaking out if a deer insisted on hovering this close to me.

And he struck around for quite some time watching my boys swim and strolling the beach.

It was so bizarre!

But, eventually we grew tired of watching him, and the boys switched their attention to using their boogie boards as surf boards.

In spite of how cold the water was, the boys dove right in!

It's so strange to see all the fall colours in the background!

After the reader and the deer left, Elliot dried off and waged a secret seaweed attack on his unsuspecting brother in the water.  Muwahaha!


Here is Elliot declaring himself Lord Supreme over Gondola Point Beach:

After which, he turned and told me this was the best Phys. Ed. class ever!

I think he may be getting hooked onto homeschooling as well.

tee hee!

Monday, 26 September 2011

School Uniforms

In order to make the School of Shenanigans more official, we decided to come up with a school uniform.  Nothing says "official" like starched white collared shirts, button up jackets, and carefully pressed khaki's, right? Well, thank heavens we are not that "official".  Here at the School of Shenanigans we like to get dirty, we like to play sports, and we like to be comfortable. 

Oh, and matching always helps too:

1.  Clean underwear is a must.  Sure, many of you are thinking: "Well, isn't that obvious!".  Unfortunately, no, particularly with the seven and ten year old crowd.

2.  Students must wear their Patriots paraphernalia, preferably a new t-shirt recently purchased by two loving grandparents on a recent trip to Utah.  Thanks, nanny and grampy!  And, in spite of the disastrous outcome of yesterday's game, you must wear it with pride.

3.  All students need camouflage cargo pants because the camo comes in handy when you are either planning an ambush on unsuspecting visitors or you are trying to hide from your crotchety, old teacher at test time.  Surprisingly, this has not happened yet, but we still have 30 + weeks of school left so you never know.  Also, cargo pants have lots of pockets which are perfect for concealing weapons in if a mutiny is in the works (again, only a speculation), or for hiding treasured rocks, frogs, or cheat sheets.

tee hee!

I suppose I should confess now that these "uniforms" only happened by chance one morning last week.  In fact, the boys did not even realize they had dressed alike until I pointed it out after lunch, which makes me wonder what they do notice if anything at all.  Hmmmm . . . . something to ponder.

I hope you have a fantabulous, shenanigan-filled week!!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Wonderfully Hard

The problem with not blogging everyday is that my thoughts are scrambled with the million and one things I want to share with you.

 Hmmm . . .  where should I begin?

Well, how about where I left off.

Elliot was being miserable, and I was distraught and exhausted.

Sounds like a great beginning doesn't it?

Unfortunately, this carried on for the rest of our week, and by Friday afternoon, I was done.  I was ready to pull the plug, and take the easy route.  I felt discouraged because Elliot was, well, being Elliot, and I was spending so much time on lesson planning, teaching, cleaning up, and coaching Zoe's school soccer team that I was unable to even think about doing something for myself to unwind, like post on my beloved blog.  With a weary body and an even more weary spirit, I dragged my butt out of the house on Friday afternoon to attend the Regional Women's Conference for my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in Halifax with a bunch of friends.  Although this was the last thing I wanted to do because the thoughts of exerting any more energy and leaving all my chores behind only to be completed later did not sound appealing, it turned out to be the best thing I could do.  With each town we passed along the highway, I could feel my spirit lifting as I became further and further away from the concerns I left behind at home.

Ahhh!  Freedom!!

I had forgotten just how wonderful it is to spend an evening with girlfriends eating, laughing, and sharing stories to the wee hours of the morning.  It was the boost I needed after such a long, difficult week.

But, it got even better.

Sitting in the Dartmouth Chapel with about 500 women, listening to a beautiful musical piece narrating the Savior's ministry and each of the women whose lives he touched and the uplifting talks given by the inspired female leaders of our Church, I was overwhelmed by feelings of peace, love and hope.  As I looked around the room, I was humbled by the sacrifices that many of the women had made to attend this conference, and I realized that I was not alone in my weariness, but, in particular, I realized I had very little to feel discouraged by compared to the women I sat amongst.  As I scanned the crowd, I saw dear friends who suffer from illnesses such as Parkinson's or cancer, women who had in their past or even very recently suffered the loss of a child, and women whose daily lives were made difficult through poverty or disabilities.  My heart wept for each of them, but what left the most lasting impression upon me was the smile on their faces, their acts of charity, and their displays of faith.  Life is hard, and although we cannot choose many of the circumstances we are placed in during this life, we can choose whether or not we will become discouraged by them or strengthened by them.
As I drove home late Saturday evening, I felt ready to face a new week. I was ready to put the smile back on my face, and to find the joy in this ridiculously hard, but wonderful path my life has recently taken.  And I became determined to turn it into something spectacular!

By no means, was our week perfect, and, in all honesty, I did lose my cool a couple of times, but, all in all, it turned out to be a winning week, quite literally!

To encourage positive attitudes and good behaviour, I started a competition between the boys and I.  Each time they do something notable, like beating their personal best in timed quizzes on math facts, or saying three instead of free (Avery),  or coming up with new homonyms for our homonym bug:

Isn't he cute?  Thanks, Andrea, for the idea :)

they get a point, but if they give me attitude, or act ridiculous when they are supposed to be working, or give me grief in any way, shape or form, I get points.  The winner at the end of the week gets to pick out a treat and the loser(s) have to pay for it. 

And you guessed it, by Friday afternoon, I was winning by 1 point!!  I thought this would be a perfect lesson for my boys to show them that I mean business and that they need to work really hard, but the unexpected happened and they pulled two points out of thin air at the last second.  I thought it was in the bag! It was Friday afternoon, their friends were expected to show up in just over an hour, and all that was left was Elliot's most dreaded subject, Language Arts.  It was a perfect storm!! I was all ready to savor the sweet taste of victory, a Charleston Chew bought by my boys, as we sat down for our last lesson of the week.  We were talking about possessive nouns and pronouns, when all of a sudden Elliot looks at me and squeals: "Cellar and Seller!  That's a homonym!"  And a very creative one, I might add, but he didn't ask for his point.  Hmmm . . . it seemed that he had forgotten about our little competition and had resigned himself to loserdom.  So, I didn't say anything.  I fully intended to give him his well-deserved point, but I wanted to see how the lesson would go without his mind on this incentive.  Much to my shock and delight, his upbeat mood continued throughout the entire lesson.  He was engaged, working really hard, and not complaining. Then after writing a paragraph on what his dream room would look like, complete with an army tank bed and an alarm clock that sounded like the blasts from the tank, he surprised me even more.  I told him he was done, and he pointed out there was an enrichment activity at the bottom of the page that he wanted to do.


Okay, where's the camera hidden?

But he was serious!

After he was finished his drawing of the room he had just carefully described, I announced that he had gained two points for his team. 

He was honestly shocked!

Avery, we won!!  We won!!

Their victory dance!

Their winnings!

(Groan . . . The Charleston Chew was almost mine)

Oh, well! There is always next week :)

And hopefully, more opportunities to blog.

Happy Weekend!!!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

And Then There Are Days Like Today

 Well, yesterday, to be exact.

I knew it was coming.  He has done this to me every year since he has been in school.  From his first year in preschool when he sat on the stairs and refused to go in.  To his first year in Kindergarten, when he left his class, stood on his tiptoes peering into my classroom through the window in the door, and refused to leave until I took home.  Or the next year, when he refused to leave the after school program in spite of my pleas and the time.  Or last year, when we sat for four hours at the table on our deck waiting for him to complete the homework he adamantly refused to do.  What did I do in all those instances, the same thing I did yesterday.  I remained calm.  I told him what was expected, and allowed real world consequences to be his teacher.  In preschool, I left.  His teacher watched him and, when boredom finally set in, he joined the class.  In Kindergarten, I ignored him until he grew tired of standing at my door and returned to class.  In the after school program, I pretended to leave.  This one was really funny because Sharon, the after school leader, was in on it with me, and we did not tell him that I was in my classroom waiting the whole time.  After the last child left, she started to lock up.  Elliot looked up at and her and asked "what are we going to do"?  She said I have to go home.  Tears welled up in his eyes, and he exclaimed "I'm going to have to stay here and eat the garbage!".  At this moment, I walked out and he ran into my arms.  He never pulled that trick again.  Year after year, I have to show Elliot that in spite of what he may want, there are times when things just have to be done, and it is better to do them when you have the opportunity rather than to wait.
Yesterday, as he laid on the basement floor refusing to do his schoolwork, I simply told him that he could not do anything else until it was done.  I make it sound so easy, but inside, like all the other times, I was fuming and wanted nothing more than to beat him silly, but I didn't and I never do. I just went about the day like everything was normal, like there wasn't a little lump of a person laying around whining how unfair this world is.  So, no worries!  You don't have to call Social Services.  I did not hit him. I only thought about it  . . . tee hee!
And four hours later, after watching his brother complete his work, play with toys, and watch some cartoons, he caved and began to do his work.  By this time, I was busy doing the housework so he had to do it all on his own, and therefore, it took a lot longer than usual for him to complete it.  Rather than curling up on the couch to have me read a book about New Brunswick to him like I did for Avery earlier, he had to read it on his own and then be quizzed on what he learned.  When everything was finally done at 4pm, Elliot looked up at me, and exclaimed: "I will never do that again, Mommy!".
I know, dear. At least not until next year.
Last night, as I laid in bed telling Mr. Level-Headed all about the day's shenanigans and wondering why on earth Elliot acts so foolish, he came up with something profound.  He said "Elliot does it to test the boundaries, and to ensure that there are indeed boundaries there.  It makes him feel safe". 
Hello!  Light bulb moment!
That Mr. Level-Headed is so smart.  Of course!  Being the first year of his homeschooling experience, Elliot was probably questioning why he had to do it.  At school, there was the threat of going to the Principal's office, and so the fear of an authority figure was what compelled him to do his work.  It's like my boys thinking I don't speed out of fear of being caught by the police rather than a conscious decision on my part to be a cautious driver. Elliot had to learn that work is a natural part of our day, and there is no way around it.  Sure, you can choose to ignore it, but it never goes away, and the longer you wait to do it, the more work you create for yourself.  Life truly is the best teacher!
So, thanks to Mr. Level-Headed, after spending the entire day feeling discouraged and questioning my decision to homeschool, I drifted off to sleep feeling at peace with my decision and reminding myself that the most valuable things in this world are often the hardest things to do, or in this case, to raise . . . tee hee!
I love you Elliot!

Monday, 12 September 2011

The Birth of an Artist (or Two)

On Friday morning, I cracked open a new package of modelling clay and was immediately sent back to my childhood days of early Saturday morning art classes.  I love the smell of art rooms where clay and paint combine to form a unique mixture of earthy and chemical smells.  Mmmmmm!  Unlike my sister Hilary, who is a gifted artist, the smell seems to be the only thing I can remember from these classes  . . . tee hee!

Anyhoo, the boys were thrilled to finally get started on their art project!  They had carefully planned out what their statues were going to look like:



Then they dove into the clay. 

Is there any better feeling than kneading cool, malleable clay in your hands?  I just love art class!

Elliot's sculpture quickly took form:

but poor Avery, who is a terrible perfectionist, found the clay frustrating to work with because he couldn't get it to look just right.

Initially, he wanted his sculpture to sit on a chair,

but after that collapsed, he opted for something more durable, a bathtub:

tee hee!

Elliot's man turned out very cool!

Add a little detail:

and voila, you have a little British Grandfather.  I love him! 

Initially, his sculpture was supposed to carry a briefcase, as his picture suggested, but Elliot later decided it would make a better club.

So, I guess he is a caveman Grandfather . . . tee hee!

Then, because one art project is never enough, the boys and I made leaf rubbings after Avery and I read A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry.  Unbeknownst to me, this was Avery's first time doing a leaf rub.  My poor neglected baby!  I used to do all these little art projects with Zoe and Elliot when they were toddlers, but I guess life just became too busy once Avery was born.  Not anymore though. 

Now, it is his turn!

He thought I was so cool for coming up with this trick.  Kids can be the best boost to your ego!

We really are having a blast here at the School of Shenanigans, and I can't wait until Wednesday when the boys can finally paint their sculptures!   Mmmm . . . clay and paint . . . I can feel the memories rushing back already.  I am so blessed to have this opportunity to relive my childhood all over again.  Except this time around, I don't have to worry about being outshined by my artsy younger sister . . . tee hee!