Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Opening Night

Well, it's official!  The 2011 soccer season kicked off tonight in Kingston! And judging from all the smiling faces on the field, it's going to be a good one!

Here are Elliot and Zoe's brand new cleats.  They look fast don't they?  I love when kids put on new sneakers and exclaim: "Ooh, these are fast sneakers!".  It's hilarious!  I think Zoe is finally past that stage because she only seems concerned with how expensive they are  . . .  tee hee!  Poor Avery is forever stuck with hand-me-downs.  Being the baby is so tough!

What a cute bunch of kids!

So, words are my thing, and pictures are not.  I totally mismanaged the lighting in this next photo, but it is very cool.

This is Avery kicking the ball!  I love how it looks like the ball is resting on the tip of cleats.  Perhaps it is, and he is just that talented!

Move over David Beckham, there are some new soccer stars in town!

The key to being a good soccer player and scoring lots of goals is never taking your eyes off the ball, and hoping that your opponent does . . . tee hee!

Lucky #4!

Is this highland dancing or soccer . . . tee hee

"I'm open over here!"

Tonight was Zoe's first night of coaching, and I think she was a big hit with our U6's.

She is such a natural when it comes to kids!  Each one of those kids left with a smile on their face and felt that they were special in some way.  She is going to be an awesome mama someday!

Since it was opening night, we ended with a brief awards ceremony and a few games to give the kids a chance to win some prizes.

Here are Zoe and Scott, with their proud mamas, receiving their trophies for being named Subway's Player of the Year for our 2011 Winter Program.  And no, Hilary and Emily, I did not take ownership of the plaque, but rather I was asked to hold it.   Sheesh!

Avery held this position the longest with another U8 player to win some cool prizes.

He is such a nut!

What a perfect evening!  The sun was shining, and we were hanging at the soccer field with our buddies.  I can't wait for summer!

p.s Elliot has his first game of the season tomorrow night.  Woohoo!  Let's go Kingston!

Monday, 30 May 2011

Bedtime Stories

One of my most favourite things in the world are books!  I LOVE books!  I love the look of them, the feel of them, even the smell of them (and yes, I always give my new books a good whiff before I read them).  I LOVE the smell of paper and ink . . . .mmmm, heavenly bliss.  But my most favourite thing about books is not the sensational sensory experiences they provide nor is it what you find inside of them: the ideas, the characters, and the images, but rather it is the memories they create and the bonds they forge with those who share them.  So, as you can imagine, reading books before bed is a pretty big deal in my house. In fact, our lack of bedtime reading, while I was working full-time, was one of the critical factors in my decision to return to life as a stay-at-home mom.  Growing up, my dad, in particular, always read stories to us before bed, and literature is such a huge part of being a Skov that I wanted to share it with my children.  Now, you have to know my father, he was not one for "children's books". Most people grew up with Archie comics as their toilet reads, but not the Skovs, we had "The Nietzsche Reader".  I kid you not!  Oh, the things one can learn as they are enjoying their daily poo!  As a very young child, I still remember him reading "The Hobbit" to my sister, Hilary, and I before bed.  I don't remember how young I was, but I was young enough to be terrified!  In fact, I slept cocooned beneath my blankets for years after because I could have sworn that hobbits were peaking around my bedroom door, waiting for me to go to sleep.  I now know that hobbits are very friendly creatures.  I mean, come on, anyone who eats second breakfast and thirdsy lunches is pretty awesome in my opinion; but to a mere child, short, hairy-footed creatures who chum around with dwarfs and wizards are a little freaky.

Even today, the first thing out of my father's mouth when he sees one of his chillin's is "what are you reading?".  Well, maybe more so now with my younger siblings because, when I think about it, he seemed to have stop taking an interest in my book affairs once I developed a slight obsession for young adult fiction.  Hmmm?  Oh, and did I tell you my dad is a HUGE book snob?  Or perhaps, the "Nietzsche Reader" gave it away . . . Tee hee!

Here's Papa Skov working hard at the newspaper.  He even looks like a book snob!
If you want to see my dad in action, just tell him that universities are now putting "Twilight" on their reading lists.  I dare ya!  But if you do, remember to tuck and roll because it's gonna get a whole lot ugly!  Tee hee . . . I love ya, Kurty!

Anyhoo, back to bedtime stories.  Since my children were very young, remember colicky Elliot and his fascination with the Brontes, I have read to them, and books have become cherished items in our house.  In fact, tonight, I asked the boys to pick a picture book out before I started to read them a chapter from "The Hobbit" (I know! I know! But, there are some rites of passage all children must experience and this is one of them if you are part Skov), they grabbed "Where Did All the Dragons Go?". 

As soon as I picked it up, a flood of memories washed over me.  This was one of Elliot's FAVOURITE books when he was a toddler.  It was out of print at the time, so we had to continuously renew it from the library.  He was obsessed!  We searched everywhere to find a copy for him.  I even contemplated stealing it from the library . . . . GASP!  Kidding!  But, thankfully, aunt Hilary, the librarian, found a copy on EBay from a library in the States that was selling it.  Thank heavens because I think I could have paid off my student loans with the money I was paying in late fees!  It is still one of our favourites, and will definitely be one of the books I keep to share with my grandbabies someday.

Another one of Elliot's book obsessions was "Piggie Pie". 

We found it in our playgroup's library and we were on the perpetual renewal plan for this one too until I happened to find it at our favourite bookstore, "Benjamin's Books".  This is a fantastic read-aloud book because it is repetitive and rhythmic, and the reader automatically adopts a distinctive voice for Gritch the Witch. This one never gets old, and trust me, we still read it about once a week.

Avery's all-time favourite is "Curious George".  Surprise!  I see no similarities between Avery and a monkey with a natural penchant for shenanigans.  How about you?  Tee hee!

When Zoe was a little girl, and I was attending university part-time, I would always visit the school's bookstore in between classes and pick us up a new book to share.  These are some of our favourites:

I remember coming home from school, and the two of us would curl up on the couch and read our new book.  She always sat in my lap, and would ALWAYS ask me to read it, again and again.  She particularly liked "The Paper Bag Princess" because, in the end, the Princess says to Ronald "your clothes are really pretty and your hair is very neat.  You look like a real prince, but you are a bum!".  She would laugh and laugh.  I wonder if she still thinks all boys are bums?  Hmmm . . . probably not!

In our house, the most treasured books are the ones that can be read-aloud with ease and the ones which lend themselves nicely to absurd voices or accents, like these ones:

I dare you to read Skippyjon Jones without a Spanish accent.  It's impossible!  This series is another one of Avery's favourites.  It's about a little boy kitty who always finds himself in a heap of shenanigans.  Hmmm . . .   I'm picking up on a theme here with Avery's book interests?  The more shenanigans the better!

But the all-time best bedtime book is:

This is my ultimate favourite children's book to read aloud!  It is awesome!  I used to read it to myself as a kid (remember the book snob and his poopoo on children's literature . . . just kidding, dad!), to my younger sister and brother, John and Emily, to the tons of children I used to babysit, and now to my own wee ones.  It never gets old watching poor Grover fight against the reader to stop them from turning the page.  In fact, this book is so good that they have made a sequel to it with Elmo and Grover, which we have but I could not find.  Please read them to your kids!  They're a hoot!

Now, I cannot wrap up my nod to bedtime stories without acknowledging this Skov favourite:

This is mama Skov's favourite book, and we used to make her read it to us because she can't get through it without crying.  We found this hilarious, and we ridiculed her something terrible for it!  She always said: "just you wait until you're a mom.  You will understand then".  But we thought she was crazy!  How could someone find a creepy old woman, who sneaks into her adult son's room at night to cradle him in her arms, touching?  Well, my mom did have the last laugh because, recently, while I was reading the story to my own boys, I burst into tears and could not go on.  They were dumbfounded, and like my sister and I did so many years ago, they laughed and laughed. 

Like so many traditions that our parents started when we were kids, bedtime stories can often be overlooked and undervalued.  When I asked the boys why they enjoy having stories read to them each night, they replied "because going to sleep is pretty boring and what else are you going to do?".  For Zoe, it is simply a way to put off bedtime a bit longer.  But, it is so much more than that!  Think of the laughs we have shared, the voices we have created, the snuggles we have snuck, and the memories we have made.  THIS IS THE BEST PART OF OUR DAY!!  And finding myself unable to get through to them, like my own mom so many years ago, I simply said, "just wait until you are a parent.  You will understand then".

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Making Lemon-Aid from Lemons

Has anyone noticed that we have had a lot of rain lately?  Tee hee!  Okay, bad joke! 

Rain does not usually bother me.  In fact, I like the rain because it forces me to slow down and say, "hey, let's watch a movie!",  rather than "hey, let's play volleyball, let's go on a hike, or even let's knock down some knotweed!".  But I was quite disappointed when I pushed open the church doors this afternoon and saw that we were still engulfed in mist and fog.  I really thought it was going to burn off by lunchtime.  This is getting ridiculous! 

As I was making lunch, my brain started sifting through our regular rainy day activities.  A board game . . . nah!  A movie . . .  nah!  Reading books in my bed . . . nah!  After a month of rain, we have grown pretty tired of this list so I knew that not one of these activities was going to cut it today.  I needed to be creative!  I needed to be enthusiastic, and I needed to do it quickly.  But alas, the ideas did not come.  Just as I was about to concede defeat and submit to an afternoon filled with wrestling, teasing, and whining (the usual symptoms of cabin fever), I heard Elliot holler up from the basement:

"Mom!  Do you want to play miniature golf?" 

What?!  Feeling intrigued by the ingenuity of this idea and curious as to what exactly Elliot meant, I quickly ran downstairs.

Turns out that as I was mourning the lack of sunshine and racking my soggy brain for ideas, my munchkins were busy transforming our basement into a mini-putt park:

Station 1: Par 4

Station 2: Par 3

Station 3: Par 5
It looks simple but you have to work your way through the movies and then put the ball into the box at the end which is slightly obscured from the surrounding movies.

Who knew that my boys could work together and use their evil genius to create a game that did not involve death and destruction?  Well, that is until Avery shot his ball under the couch and Elliot counted every swing he took to get out against him.  Yikes!  Note to self, what did you expect when two highly competitive brothers are armed with golf clubs?

The final scores! 

In spite of Avery's brief temper tantrum, we had a blast!  In fact, we were having so much fun that even Zoe, who is too cool for all things brother-made, was enticed to try the course out herself:

Note that mama was not allowed to take a picture of her head due to a "bad hair day". 
You gotta love 13 year old girls! 

I am so proud of my boys for being creative today and for refusing to allow the rain to bring them down.  They made the best of a wet, soggy afternoon and reminded their family that you can always make lemon-aid when the world gives you lemons!

Too cheesy?

P.S. I have a firm belief in the power of prayer. Gramma Skov (Mama Skov to me and my sibs) is going through a really tough time right now and could use your prayers.  Please send notes of love and encouragement to me via facebook, email, or comments at the end of this blog, and I will send them her way. Thanks!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Going on a Fox Hunt

Elliot was assigned a project this week in science class, and he chose to study the red fox.  Why?  Probably because we have two little foxes that live on our property.  I wish I could insert a photo here, but they tend to come out REALLY early in the morning, and I REALLY do not function at that time.  I am more of a 7am girl, and even then, my brain doesn't kick into gear until at least 8am.  

Anyhoo, back to the foxes.  The majority of the project will be completed in school (yippee!), but he needs to construct a fox's den out of a shoebox, and Elliot is pumped!  Everyday he comes home from school eager to learn more about foxes.  So last night, Derrick and Elliot googled "fox's den" ( I really feared that Hugh Hefner's den of debauchery would pop up, but to Derrick's dismay it didn't. Tee hee!), and all these little holes appeared.  Who knew that the red fox digs holes in the ground to live in?  Okay, maybe you are smarter than me, but I was shocked.  They had all these little "caves" either in the ground or in the crevices of rocks.  They were really cute!  I can just picture a mama fox all cozy in her little hole with her babies snuggling up to her.  Perhaps I should dig a hole?  Oooh, this could fit in with "The Vision"! Tee hee!

When Elliot arrived home from school, he was adamant that we needed to go on a fox hunt.  He wanted to find out where our little foxes lived and to take pictures of their den to include with his project.  Being a teacher, Elliot's enthusiasm to see a fox's den for real was difficult to resist so the boys and I grabbed our rubber boots and headed for the shoreline. 

Avery took a picture of his brand new boots.  He is convinced they have super powers. 

Every time we have seen the foxes they were close to the shoreline so we figured that this was the best place to start.  In my heart, I was scared that we would not find what we were looking for and my little boy's curiosity would be squashed by our failure, but thankfully, we were actually quite successful.  Now, I am not sure if the foxes actually live in any of these hovels, but the boys were convinced that they could see the reds of their eyes peeking out at them.  Yikes!  We may have some evil foxes out there. 

Being the thoughtful mother that I am, I sent the boys in to take the pictures so that they could take ownership of the project.  I promise that it had nothing to do with my fear that perhaps the mama fox may go into a rabid frenzy and lunge at the paparazzi outside of her door.  Seriously, it had nothing to do with that.  That would be wrong . . . tee hee!  And it's not like my boys were unprepared.  Trust me, my boys love their weapons, and Avery stood on the periphery with a stick just in case he had to smash some heads. 

But how exciting is this!  We were able to take some facts off of google, and then head out into nature and witness it for ourselves.  This whole experience could spark a lifelong interest in science for them and maybe they will become world renowned biologists someday.  You never know!

Then again, though, when we climbed down over the rocks, there was a flat muddy section with little green fiddleheads growing sporadically across it, and Avery exclaimed: "Look! It's their little fox garden! I bet their dad planted it so the babies would not be hungry".  Tee hee!  Okay, so he has a lot to learn, and perhaps we need more of these hands-on nature lessons and less reading of the "Franklin" series, where all the animals live like people, before we start hitting CBC up to add the "In the Wild with the Websters" show to their fall line-up.  But someday, my boys could become the next David Suzuki or the Kratt brothers, and all because a little boy got excited over his end-of-the-year science project.   In the meantime, while I wait to cash in on my boys' good looks and enthusiasm for anything wild, I will simply enjoy going on fox hunts and listening to the insights on animal behaviour from a boy wearing super-powered boots.

The Wild Websters!

By the way, Elliot's next plan of action for the project involves the two of us waking up at the crack of dawn and waiting in our backyard to take a picture of the foxes.  For some reason, I am feeling less enthusiastic about this idea.  Who knows, though, I am a sucker for that sweet little face.

Random Observations

I am happy to announce that after my "fall" on Tuesday night, I am back to my old cheery self.  No emphasis on old, please.  It just took a quiet day at home with very little running around to rejuvenate my mind and body from the insanity of my weekend.  With a refreshed spirit, I was able to enjoy my kids and spend some one-on-one time with each of them.  Even my big orange baby!

Isn't he precious!  He is currently in desperate need of a good grooming, though.
I love afternoons like yesterday!  The sun was shining, the boys horseback riding lessons were cancelled, and suddenly an entire afternoon was opened up. 

Avery decided that since it was sunny, he wanted to go for a swim.  When Avery wants to do something, he does it!  I can give him a million logical reasons why something should not be done, but he needs to find out on his own.  So, even though I told him that the river is still frigid cold because it was only a month ago that it was frozen solid, he put on his swim trunks and we headed to the shoreline.  As soon as his tootsies touched the water, he decided that perhaps swimming should wait for another day.  Of course he did not acknowledge that I was right, and I, being the mature adult, did NOT tell him "I told you so!".

Instead, he played along the rocks asking me questions the entire time.

Look at all the bug bites on his chest.  The bugs LOVE him!

One of the things I love about Avery is that he is an observer.  He notices everything!!  Like the time he explained that Grammie Skov has the best smile in the entire world because her smile is so huge that her cheeks scrunch up and almost cover her eyes.  The funny thing is that it is true, and even though I have spent more time on this earth with my mom than he has, he took the time to "see" her and to note what makes her so special.  I wish I could be more like that!  It truly is a gift!
Anyhoo, back to our question and answer period.  So, as you can imagine, some of Avery's questions are pretty tough to answer, and he forces you to really think about things.

Avery: "Mom, does water go on forever?"
Me: "What do you mean?"
Avery: "Does this river touch the entire world?"
Me: "Well, it does connect to the Bay of Fundy, which is connected to the Atlantic Ocean, which is connected to all the other oceans in the world. So, yeah, it does go on forever!"

Phew!  I managed to answer that one, but the next one I flubbed up a bit so please leave a comment on this post if you have the answer.

Avery: "The world spins right, mom?"
Me: "Yes."
Avery: "Why can't we feel it?"
Me: "Because we are so tiny and this world is so HUGE compared to us that we do not realize it is moving."
Avery: "Does it move fast or slow?"
Me: "I think slowly because if not we would see a million different sunrises and sunsets in a day. But we may have to ask daddy, though because I am really not sure."

Help!  Does anyone out there no the answer.  He was not impressed that I did not know, and later became convinced that while sitting on a particular rock that he could feel the earth moving.

He then moved on to fraternal and paternal twins, and was wondering why one group looks alike and the other does not.  As soon as I started to explain that moms have eggs, he broke into laughter and took off.  I guess he figured that I know nothing.  People are  not born from eggs, crazy lady!

Once Avery left me, I spent sometime watching Scout.  For him, the water was just the right temperature and he had no intentions of leaving just yet.  Scout is very funny!  He is a quirky dog, and one of the funniest things he does is dig up the rocks in the water and take them out. His first summer, Derrick would take him and the kids down to the river.  The kids always whined that our beach was too rocky so while they were all playing around, Derrick would pick up the rocks and throw them to the side.  He was convinced that if we did this that overtime, a LONG period of time mind you, we would eventually have a sandy beach.  Well, he has given up on that dream because the river's current seems to dump all the rocks on our beach. It's just the way it is.  Scout, on the other hand, has not given up, and whenever he is finished with swimming, he gets straight down to business.

He truly is a working dog!

I gave the kids until 4pm to do whatever they wanted and then we hit the books. I can't wait until school is over and we no longer have homework to do. I say we because my boys need to be continually kept on task and prodded along.  It is exhausting, and one of us usually throws a temper tantrum somewhere along the line.  Aah!  Sweet mommy and son bonding time! But, yesterday, was different. In fact, I was shocked at how cooperative they both were, and even more shocked when Elliot, after I announced that we had to work on his persuasive writing skills because the provincial exam is next week, did not storm the house in a fit of rage.  Not that he has ever done that when it comes to homework . . . ha, ha!  As we sat together and worked our way through the reasons why he wants a dirt bike, I noticed that he really did not need me that much.  He was spelling words on his own and he was able to come up with coherent sentences that logically outlined his reasoning behind wanting a death machine (my words, not his).  I was taken back for a moment.  Although this was definitely a proud mama moment for me because hallelujah he is actually learning something, I was sad because all of a sudden my little boy had a become an independent writer. 

Flash forward to suppertime.

After a lively dinner conversation, which will take up a whole other blog entry sometime, Elliot, who had cleared his plate, got up with plate in hand and said, "Mom, that was a great!  Can I go outside now?".

Stop the presses!

Who are you and what have you done with my son?

I was utterly flabbergasted!  Elliot is my pickiest eater, and mealtime always involves whining with some acrobatic maneuver, whether it be hanging upside down on the chair or teetering on the edge of his chair with just his tippy toes.  Trust me, the boy does not like mealtime.  So, when did he grow up and become this mature homework-doing, meal-eating, clean-up-after-myself kind of kid?

Well, my best guess is that it happened sometime overnight.

I guess there really is something to this double-digit thing!

Later in the evening, we all curled up to watch the finale of American Idol.  After "observant" Avery commented that he could almost see the girls' "private parts" because their dresses were so short and Elliot became fixated on the fact that Steve Tyler was caught smoking, Derrick and I figured it was probably time to put the boys to bed.  Ah, good, wholesome family viewing.  Thanks, again, cable TV! Thank heavens the boys were not up to see Lady Ga Ga's performance.  It was kind of getting hot and heavy with her and that guy on the rock.  Yikes!

In the end, it was just Zoe and I who stuck it out.  Although all that I learned about Zoe this particular evening was that she loves the white sneaker look (I can't go there), J Lo's pant suit and Scotty, I did have a chance to reflect upon our time together on Monday night at coaches' training for soccer.  This summer, Zoe is going to become a coach for our soccer club, and she is going to do a fantastic job!  I was such a proud mama the other night when she lead a group of adult women through a series of drills that you could use with the young kids.  She was so confident!  And she knew her stuff!  This girl truly amazes me each and every day. 

 I will be proud to pass my little ones over to her this summer.  She is going to have a blast with them!

Here is Zoe with a couple of the other youth who will be coaching this summer.  They are a great bunch of kids!

There you have it!  Aren't my kids awesome!  I am so grateful that I took the opportunity yesterday to rest.  The world we live in is so busy and and filled with so many distractions that we have to make a conscious effort to say, "I'm done!" and to step off the crazy train for awhile.   If we don't, then life becomes one garbled mess of varied experiences and sensations, which will eventually lose their meaning if we allow them to simply slip through our consciousness without reflection.  Luckily for me, I was able to reconnect after a quiet morning with just me and my thoughts, and by the time that big, yellow bus pulled up at the end of my driveway, I was prepared to truly "see" the people, and the big orange fella, that I share my life with.

Just a note of caution, when flinging one's self off the crazy train, one must tuck and roll. Always tuck and roll!

Tee hee!