Thursday, 30 June 2011

A Day of Firsts

Yesterday was a big day here at Shenanigans Inc.

Although we spent most of the day running to appointments and doing errands, we had a lot of firsts for the season.

It all started at the dentist.  Look at the excitement on Elliot!  He is just oozing with enthusiasm . . . tee hee!

 The big news here though, was Avery:

You see, Avery has inherited his mama's super sniffer and her super sensitivity to all sounds and feelings, which do not make a visit to the dentist's office easy.  In fact, the minute I walk in and smell that distinct "dentist office" smell, I become queasy and get a headache.  It happens every time!  Well, poor Avery seems to suffer from the same affliction as I do so he has always been, oh how should I put it without making him sound like the stubborn little monkey that he is, very uncooperative.  Yes, uncooperative definitely describes  his behaviour.  Avery's first visit to the dentist did not go well at all.  He wouldn't even sit in the chair and let the hygienist "count" his teeth.  He knew something was up and he was having no part of it.  You could tell she did not have children of her own, and even though I am sure she does her job very well, she did not handle being shut out by a 3 year old very well.   Yikes!  I thought the two of them were going to break out into a fist fight.  Luckily, she was never his hygienist again.  Phew!  After we completed our walk of shame out of the dentist office that day, I looked at Avery and said "Never again!".  Then each time we went after that, I was able to convince him to add just one more procedure to his cleaning  until that fateful day came, yesterday to be exact, when Avery was finally going to do the full cleaning, including the dreaded fluoride.  I was terrified!  I had visions of him vomiting everywhere or throwing the world's biggest temper tantrum, but he didn't.  HE ACTUALLY DID IT!  My boy, who wants rotten teeth so that he can look like a pirate, actually did it!  I was one proud mama! 

Oh, and the cavity king, Elliot, did not have any cavities!  Could this day get any better? 

Well, of course it can.

So, like I said, it was one of those crazy days where I overbooked myself and every time I turned around I was late for some appointment.  Finally, we sat down at 6 pm for supper and, amidst the usual compliments like "oh, mommy you are the best cook ever!" and "mommy I love you so much because you put so much effort into making us healthy meals" (tee hee!), I remembered that today was the first day to  pick up our basket of home-grown goodies from my friend, Kim, at Harmony Growers, and we only had an hour left to get there.  Ahhh! After scarfing down our supper, we were once again on the move!  For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about there are two companies in our area Dave's Produce Packs and Harmony Growers (in all honesty there may be more but these are the only two I am familiar with), who for a fee provide families with organic produce for the entire growing season.  It is a fantastic idea, and a very popular one!  So each Wednesday evening, I will stop by Kim's farm to pick up one of these:

How cute is that?  Since it is early in the season and the weather has not been very cooperative, the baskets are a little sparse, but nonetheless there are lots of salad friendly goodies in there that I can't wait to try.  We have some Swiss chard, some radishes, some green onions, salad mix, oregano, and Pok Choy (very similar to his brother, Bok)  Also, because Kim is so meticulous in everything she does, she included some tips on how to cook and use each veggie plus a few yummy recipes.  It's like getting a present all summer long; I am so excited!!

Then to wrap up our hectic day and to reward myself and the kids for surviving the day, we headed up to Kredl's for our first ice cream cone of the season.  Yummy!

It truly was a fantastic day!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Watching My Baby Grow Up

The other night, as we were preparing for bed, I told Avery to pick out his book for bedtime, and I read it to him.  Elliot was still not finished with his bath so I told Avery to grab another book. 

"Okay, mom, but I am going to read this one to you!"

When your first born reaches these milestones, your heart does a little leap for the thrill of watching them slowly master the world one step at a time.  These moments become a form of validation for you and confirm that yes, you are being the type of parent your child needs you to be.    

But when your baby takes these strides, your heart quivers and you weep a silent tear. These moments are no longer a thrill because you have become painfully aware that each of these baby steps leads them that much further away from you. 

I want to scream out, "No, let mama read this book just one last time", but I can't.  The pride and excitement on his face stops me in my tracks.  This is my job.  As a mother, I must accept these sweet little spirits when they are helpless and in need of a mama to sustain their precious life, and then I must nurture, encourage and teach them so that one day they will be able to do it all on their own.

So, I gave in.  I allowed him to take that baby step.  While drinking in the tenderness of this moment, we snuggled up close to one another, and I allowed his voice to carry me through the story.  I may not always have him with me to read bedtime stories to, but, for now, he is here in my arms and I am going to enjoy it!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Guess Who

Today, we are going to play a little game of Guess Who.

Oh, come one!  This will be fun; I promise!

Are you ready?

First up is this furless critter:

You got it!  It's Scouty. 

Yesterday, Scout got his annual shaving.  Sorry, Pam, I know this is not what a Duck Toller is supposed to look like, but I am not diligent enough each Spring to work out all of his winter coat, and why bother when a good shaving is all that it takes.  Oh, and I should also mention that his smooth exterior becomes such a novelty to the two-legged members of the household that he gets lots of additional loving:

I guess our rule of not allowing the dog to be on the furniture has been temporarily lifted . . . tee hee!

Are you ready for another one?

Guess who this little critter is in the pretty white bonnet:

Now, he has grown a beard.

You got it!  It's Avery! 

How about this critter? He kind of looks like Papa Smurf:

You're right; it's Elliot!  You guys are good at this game.

Bubble bath is the best!  The boys were having so much fun they didn't even realize they were also getting clean in the meantime.  What a sneaky mama I am! 

This was a particularly special time for my boys because they have not been able to use bubble bath since they were itty bitty.  They would always get infections from it.  But, the other day my close friend, Melissa, was making her own bubble bath (Yes, I did say making her own.  The girl is amazing!!),and she let us try some.  It is awesome, and it didn't bother my boys' sensitive skin! Hooray!!  Oh,and check out those bubbles!  This is with only 3 teaspoons of her powder.  It really is the best (and so is she) so please check out Melissa's shop, The Hampton Soap Co.,  at the Kingston Market each Saturday.  You will not be disappointed!

Well, that brings us to the end of our game. 


Okay, okay, okay . . . I will give you just one more.  This one is tricky.

Is it a pig?  Is it a super hero?  No, it's  . . . .


Ya gotta love big sisters.

Have a great day everyone and try to fill it with lots of shenanigans.  I know we will!


Monday, 27 June 2011

Look at me, I'm Sandra Dee!

Chang chang changady chang da chang
That's the way it should be . . . .

Growing up, Grease was my favourite movie.  My dad even bought me the record from a second-hand store, and I would belt out the songs while poring over all the pictures that were on the jacket.  I loved Danny and I wanted to be Sandy, not the naughty Sandy in the tight black leather pants, but the one who wore flowing yellow skirts and white blouses . . . just thought I should clarify that.

The only problem with obsessing over movies as a little girl, is that you begin to think that this is actually how life is supposed to be, and you begin to expect that all big moments in your life will be accompanied by carnivals and people who spontaneously break out into song and dance routines in unison, or at lease I did.  Needless to say, I suffered from some major disappointments while growing up, and the biggest one that comes to mind was prom night.  This truly is a tale of woe, and I will not go into all the gruesome details but let's just say that it started out with a REALLY bad hair cut, followed up by a dress that was not finished and was still being held together by pins, and ended with an after-party in a muddy field complete with wind and rain.  When we showed up, I took one look at everyone sitting on their coolers in rain coats, and I thought "this wouldn't happen to Sandy, Rizzo, maybe, but not Sandy".  So, I told Derrick that it was time to go home.  I was so disappointed!  Where was my carnival? 

Looking  back, it was moments like this one, and trust me there were lots, where I learned that life is what you make it.  You are in charge of making your own carnival moments; they don't just happen.  So, in my household, we celebrate all of the special and not-so-special days with gusto! 

For the last day of school this year, the kids and I began the afternoon with pool parties at friends' houses.  Zoe had her own to go to this year and seemed quite happy to be bidding farewell to her dear mom and brothers. 

If you like to party, make sure you have good friends with pools!  (Thanks again, Joselyn!)

Avery was feeling a little camera shy that afternoon.

Once the Big D was done work, we all met back at home and headed to the the fair. See, life can emulate the movies . . .

But first, a little snooze was in order.

I guess I wasn't the only one left completely wiped out after last week's shenanigans.

Then we hit the rides:

After everyone was feeling sufficiently squeamish, it was time to play some games.  Zoe and Avery each chose the dart game and won stuffed puppy dogs.  Elliot's game of choice?

Nothing says fun quite like a family whacking some moles:

Luckily, Elliot came away the victor! 

 (A big thank you goes out to the kind carnie who granted Derrick's request and declared him the winner even though he actually came in fourth.  See, you can never leave celebrations to chance!)

Here is Avery trying to figure out how Elliot won with only 50 points, while he had 80 . . .  tee hee!

I love how Elliot didn't question it at all!

The paparazzi can grow so tiresome!

Follow this up with dinner at one of our family's favourite restaurants, Vito's, and you've got yourself one awesome End-of-the-Year celebration complete with a carnival and some singing and dancing if you include my serenade to the family of Stacey Q's "Two of Hearts".   I love carnival music!

Happy First Day of Summer Vacation!

(I know it's growing old, but I couldn't help myself!)

p.s. Celebrations do not have to cost a fortune.  I nearly choked when I learned how much 3 bracelets at the fair cost!  In fact, we had just as much fun last year at the beach followed up with some homemade pizzas and a movie night.  As long as you put some thought and effort into it, any moment can be special!

Oh, and some really cute kids help too!

Friday, 24 June 2011

Happy Last Day of School!

Oh, what a beautiful morning!

Oh, what a beautiful day . . .

Nothing like starting the day off with some tunes from Oklahoma!

I don't know about you, but I am excited!  It's finally here: the LAST day of school!

My pooch, Scout, is so excited that he decided to wake up at 4:45am to announce to all the critters on our lawn that he was back on duty. Thankfully, he is cute!

Scout gets pretty ticked off at me in the morning.  He loves the fact that I am now getting up early to do my
 blog because that means he can assert his dominion over the yard that much earlier, but he does not like the fact that once he is out, he stays out until Derrick wakes up to feed him.  It almost looks like he is trying to channel the force here: woman, you will put down the computer and do as I command. 

Sorry, Scout, Jedi mind tricks do not work on this mama!

At this point, you probably realize that I have nothing to say today.  Well, you are correct!  With all the whirlwind that surrounds the end of the school year like making presents, organizing school memorabilia, home/school BBQ's, Year-End ceremonies, plus everything else that goes into making Shenanigans Inc. the well-oiled machine it is, I have nothing left in me.  In fact, my lack of brain power made me a pathetic companion for my friend, whom I had a lunch date with on Wednesday afternoon.  It was so much fun to sit down and talk with another mom without the distraction of soccer balls whizzing by our heads and in front of a meal that neither one of us had to cook.  Heaven!   I am still dreaming about the BBQ chicken sandwich I had.  If you live in the area, you must head over to Holly's and try it. It is well worth the additional 2 pounds you will gain afterwards!  I did have a salad with it, though. Does that count? Then, as if it couldn't get any better, we got on to my most favourite topic of all time - BOOKS!  Perhaps I really had died and gone to heaven!  But, my brain, starving for some quiet time to process all that has happened this week, went flat-line, and my sentences sounded something like this: "you know that book . . . it takes place in England . . . it as a brown cover . . . yeah, well it was awesome!"
Thankfully, she either didn't notice or is too kind to judge because we have agreed to do it again. 

So in lieu of a well-thought and well-written post today (don't you love how this sentence presumes  that this is what I typically provide you with . .  tee hee!), I am going to share with you some random photos that were taken throughout the week. I promise you will enjoy them!

Here is one of my early morning editing sessions. 

Each morning my boys come waddling out of their rooms barely conscious and squeeze onto the chair with me.  Bliss!

Here is Elliot in his thoughtful spot! 

I don't know what he is looking at, or why he chose to sit on the tin of muffins I had just baked, but doesn't he look comfortable?  I love this picture!

Here is Avery showing off his "Hardest Worker" award (it says hard worker, but he is adamant that it is hardest)  

    And just because I knew no one would believe me, I took a picture of his award:

His actions may not always be for good, but no matter what he is working on, Avery gives 110%. Way to go, buddy!

Here are the boys showing off their End-of-the-Year Lunchables.  I am one of those mean moms who, in spite of her kids' constant begging, only buys this treat for the last lunch of the year.  I think it's a fair compromise.  I send healthy lunches each day, they don't eat them, and then on the last day they get what they want.  It works! 

Zoe got one too but, in middle school, it is uncool to eat unhealthy food for lunch so she saved it for
 after school.  Boy, have times changed!  I guess it is even more uncool to have your picture taken with unhealthy food . . . tee hee!

And finally, an update on our School Memorabilia boxes.  Yesterday, after Avery's award ceremonies, he was free to leave school early so I brought him home and we started tackling his pile.  I thought I had all of his school work stored in my closet, but no!  So, we went on the search, and found a couple of boxes in the storage room that were filled with previous years' treasures.  Why didn't I come across this idea sooner?  Avery's wasn't so bad to sort because he has only been in school for 3 years, but Elliot and Zoe are a whole other story.  I am happy to report, though, the boys' boxes are all done, and it was a lot of fun going through the piles with them.  I loved hearing the stories behind each picture, and hearing the emphatic "pitch it" to all of their least favourite subjects.

Here is our "bonfire" pile:

Here is the boys' neat, well-organized closet, proudly displaying their new file boxes:

They really do have more clothes than this but in all the hustle and bustle of this week,
 I kind of got behind on putting the laundry away!
And here is Zoe's stuff (still void of this year's work) waiting for her to squeeze some time in between all of her pool parties and sleepovers to be sorted:

Thanks to all of you who stuck with this post.  I hope it wasn't too painful for you! 

Well, I am off to yet another ceremony.  I am really excited because I heard that Zoe is getting an award for sports this morning.   Hooray!! 

Happy Last Day of School, everyone!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Skeletons in our Closet

From the outside we look like one big, happy family, who lives in a clean,well-organized home, where everything has its place.  And other than the slightly maniacal looking child in the front of our family picture, we do not look like a family with a deep, dark secret.  But we do have one, and I am going to share it with you today!

I should tell you that this is incredibly hard for me.  Please do not judge me too harshly.

Okay, are you ready for this?

Ahhh!  Look away . . .  the horror!

This is my bedroom closet.  This is the one place in my home where I throw everything that I have no place for, or no idea what to do with but am required to keep.

My name is Krista Skov-Nielsen, and I am a closet slob.

So, as you can imagine, each year when my little darlings arrive home with their backpacks overflowing from a year of learning, I go into a full blown anxiety attack.

What am I going to do with all of this stuff?

AND this is only the boys' stuff.  Zoe has not even emptied her desk yet, but then again, for those of you who are familiar with middle schools in New Brunswick, I would be pretty surprised if she came home with anything at all.  Oh, but this is a whole other rant that I will share with you at a later date.  Aren't you lucky?

I could throw it all into a folder and shove it at the back of my closet, where there is already an accumulation of school years' memorabilia:

Hey, I think there may even be a little space left in there!

But no . . . not this year!  This year I am prepared thanks to  I love this woman!  I really think she should move to Canada and become my new BFF, or at least my personal assistant.  I need people!  Have you grown tired of hearing me say this?  I know Derrick has . . . tee hee!

So, her idea is not rocket science, but it is brilliant in its simplicity. Each child in the house is given a file folder box that is kept in their own closet.  You then schedule some individual time with each child to sort through their school year stash (she admits that trying to find time in a day for each kid is the most challenging part of the process).  You grab a hanging file, label it whatever year your child has just completed, and fill it with projects and assignments that mean the most to both of you.  For bigger projects like Elliot's habitat project, which he got an A+ on, you take a photo of it and place it in the folder.

Who really wants their mama taking photos of them in the morning anyway?

Oh, and by the way, projects like this, if not assigned on a regular basis and given ample time to complete, do make for positive homework experiences.  I only poo poo on the tedious, mind-numbing worksheets that come home week after endless week. But, I think you have heard enough about this.

There you have it!  It is so simple, but so helpful.  I can't wait to get started!

Your little darling gets a box of all their most treasured memorabilia, and you get your closet back.  It's a win-win situation!

Now, this post is all complete for those of you who are content with the "71 Toes" solution to organizing school year treasure, but for those of you who rather enjoy how we here at Shenanigans Inc. operate, I have one last tidbit for you.

What do you do with all the stuff that is not deemed box-worthy?  Well, you stoke up one huge bonfire and have an annual end-of-the-year book burning!  Yes, we are a little savage around here, but it is important to have family traditions.  In fact, I think I will even take a picture of our bonfire this year, complete with three wee Websters dancing around it . . . tee hee,  so they will each have one for their boxes!

 Again, it's so simple, but brilliant . . . right?

Happy Last Thursday Before Summer Vacation!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

My Rant on Homework

Sorry for the late post, but Blogger was not working this morning!

I am so done with homework!

Homework is my nemesis.

In fact, when I was teaching, I fought very hard to have homework abolished.  For me, it is a form of cruel and unusual punishment; not only for the kids completing it, but the adults who assist them and the teachers who have to mark it and prepare it.  Homework eats into valuable family time, and I see no value in it for children in grades K-5.  Mind you, I do recognize the value of children reading at home each day.  The most bizarre thing I have encountered in the past two years is that the younger your child is, the more homework they have.  I know!  Crazy isn't it!  This year Avery had reading (at least 3 different things), math, and spelling, while Elliot had reading and spelling.  Then my middle-school aged child, who is supposed to be preparing for high school, had none!  It makes no sense. 

Homework assumes that the home does not provide adequate reinforcement of things learned in school or valuable learning opportunities.  Unfortunately, this may be the case in many homes, but from my experience, these are also the homes that do not complete homework anyway.  So why do we do it?  I really think that it is just something that has always been done and is not questioned.  Thankfully, I am able to stay at home to raise my children, but what about single-parent families or families where both parents work?  They already have limited time to spend with their children at the end of the day, so why make that time as unpleasant as possible?

 So, here was our afternoon yesterday, and I want you to tell me if it would have been better spent slaving away over worksheets or doing what we did.  Seriously, comment away!

As soon as the kids get home, they are hungry.  We typically start with a fruit smoothie and then move onto the goodies like Fudgsicles or nachos.  Then they head to the screen of their choice for one hour, and trust me this is not written in stone. It all depends on how busy, or lazy, I am feeling that afternoon.  The boys LOVE their after school cartoons and Zoe heads for the computer.

After their screen time, it is typically homework time, but not yesterday!  I scrambled to think of something to do with them.  It would have been great to take the dog for a walk or run down to the river for a quick splash, but I had a million things to do to ensure that we made it to the soccer field on time.  Just in that moment when I began to feel overwhelmed by all the dirty dishes littering my counter, the unfinished laundry downstairs, and my starving garden outside, it occurred to me that I did not have to do this all alone.  So I assigned our tasks: the boys were on garden duty, Zoe was on dish duty, and I was on camera duty, or I mean everything else duty . . . tee hee!

Look at my little workers!  You can't tell me that helping around the house is not a valuable life lesson.

Elliot is so funny because he is very dramatic!  After only watering two rows, he exclaimed: "I am so done with gardening!".  I wonder where he gets this from?  Tee hee!

Once my garden was watered and my kitchen straightened up, I was able to tackle dinner and the kids could enjoy some free time. 

The biggest benefit to no homework is the opportunity for kids to be kids, and my kids did just that!

Welcome to Zoeville!

Here in this imaginary land, Zoe is the mayor and controller of all things. She hands out the money and the assignments, while the boys do whatever she tells them. 

Here is Elliot's hovel. 

Derrick got a new BBQ for Father's Day so the boys got the boxes  Nothing better than a large box!

Elliot is the security guard for Zoeville because "he likes to shoot things", and he drives around town on his skateboard looking for trouble.

Here is where Avery resides.

Avery is a fish police officer (to make sure people don't fish in the off season, which is a HUGE problem here in Zoeville), and a builder.

Their day is filled with taking orders from the boss lady and shopping at the market, where you can buy anything from Justin Bieber concert tickets to "gun-shooter" t-shirts.

In one afternoon, my kids learned how to work and contribute to the family, they exercised their imagination, and they even got a little math in there.  And all of this happened without any worksheets!

Now it is your turn to voice your opinion.  Is homework a valuable use of children's time? 

Come on, don't be shy!

Oh, and if you are anyone other than my siblings, feel free to disagree with me!

Happy Last Wednesday Before Summer Vacation!