Friday, 29 July 2011

The Family Bed

My name is Krista, and I'm a co-sleeping mama . . .

or, I was a co-sleeping mama.

When our children were infants, they slept with us.  With Zoe, I tried to be a "good" mom and teach her how to sleep in the crib, but it never made sense to me.  She was upset; I was upset, and no one was getting any sleep.   I fretted over all the magazine articles and parenting books which emphatically stated that co-sleeping was dangerous and bad for a child's development, but in my heart, I knew they could not be entirely correct.  Then I found Dr. Sear's, who was a proponent of co-sleeping and attachment parenting techniques like baby wearing, and finally, the world made sense once again.  I had the authority I needed to back my decision up, and I didn't look back.  With the boys, we never even set up a crib.  Each of our children slept with us for the first three years of their life, or until the next baby came along, and then they moved onto their own bed.  One of my fondest memories of co-sleeping is when Avery came home from the hospital.  Avery's birth was very traumatic for our family because he had suffered a stroke within twenty-four hours of his birth.  We really did not know what was going to happen to our boy, and we were all pretty shaken up.  Being keenly aware of how vulnerable I was feeling at the time, Mr. Level-Headed rearranged the bedroom with our bed and the kids' futon in it so we could all sleep together.  Avery and I took the futon because it was lower to the ground, the mattress was less puffy, and it had been peed and puked on like a gazillion times, and Derrick and the kids got the big bed.  Being surrounded by my snoring loved ones, helped me to heal and regain the hope I needed that all would be well.  I loved sleeping in that room, and I loved my husband even more for being so thoughtful. 
Oh, and if you don't already know, Avery is 100%  okay!  His stroke had no lasting effects upon him.  He is our miracle baby!

Anyhoo, so you maybe wondering why I brought all this up.  Well, I have two reasons.  The first reason is that co-sleeping has once again become a hot topic.  As I opened the Globe and Mail the other day, I noticed an article written by one of the nation's top psychologists who declared that co-sleeping destroys marriages.  Ummm . . . okay?  And of course, her "findings" rekindled the grand debate within all the mom circles and now everyone feels like they have to defend their position on sleeping styles, like where your baby sleeps is some fundamental indicator of how good a mother you are.  Come on!  Leave the moms alone!  Trust  me, we beat ourselves up enough and don't need the "experts" to take a kick at the can as well.  So, here's my advice for all you moms out there.  Know yourself.  Know your baby.  Know your husband.  As long as the three of  you are happy, then stick with whatever works.  For us, lazy parents who love their sleep, co-sleeping worked.  All of my kids can sleep on their own now, and they are intelligent, confident individuals.  But, I also know just as many parents who sleep-trained their wee ones and their kids are happy, well-adjusted kids with great, big brains.  Families are different; therefore, doesn't it make sense that we will all have different styles that work for us?

The second reason I brought this up is because Mr. Level Headed was away the other night, and I hate sleeping alone.  So, after I tucked the boys in, I asked Zoe if she would sleep with me.  I love how this does not weird her out even though she is thirteen, and she gleefully grabbed her book and hopped into bed with me.  Since Scouty sleeps wherever Zoe sleeps, he hopped in as well.  It was so cozy!  

Then, sometime in the middle of the night, Avery crawled in, which is out of character for him unless he has a bad dream.  Now there were four of us in the bed.  With a kid on each side of me and the dog at my feet, it was not the most comfortable sleep I have ever had, but I loved every minute of it just like I did when they were babies.  Feeling the warmth of their wee bodies beside me and looking upon their peaceful, sleeping faces before I closed my own eyes, was heavenly and I am so thankful I did not let the "experts" deny me of this experience.  Someday, when my kids are grown, they will sleep in beds far away and with their own families (Don't burst my bubble, here. They will only be sleeping with their families!), but I will drift off to sleep with fond memories of my own nuzzling newborns, worn-out toddlers, and the occasional teenager snoring softly in our family bed.  Bliss!

This was the photo I took when we woke up. How precious is that?

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Meet George

This is George.

My parents recently decided to get another cat.  Well, I say "parents", but really it was my mom and my dad just gave in . . . tee hee!  Does anyone else's household work like that?  Sorry, boys, but us girls just like to have our own way.

On Tuesday, when my siblings travelled to the Animal Rescue League to pick out their furry bundle of joy, my mom called to tell us they only had boy kitties left so she needed to choose a new name because Gladys just wasn't going to work for him.  As we sat down to supper, I shared this tidbit of information with the fam, and immediately the name-game began.  Avery emphatically announced that his name was George-George, and rather than take his chances, he called Grammie right away before his older siblings could say otherwise.  Much to his shock and delight, Grammie agreed, but suggested a shortened version might be easier for the kitty to remember.  Those grammies are so smart! 

Yesterday, as Elliot was off to camp and Zoe was  hanging out with a friend, Avery and I went on a mommy-Avery date because he needed to buy George a present with his own money. 

First stop, MacDonald's . . .

to pick up the highly coveted light saber.  The State of New York is clearly onto something.

Next stop, the library . . .

Too heavy, mom . . . arms about to break!
where we stocked up on another 3 weeks worth of books.  Avery and I LOVE the library.  The older kids not so much :(

And, finally, we arrived at the Dollar Store . . .

where Avery was shocked to learn he could pick up eight kitty balls for only $1.  "This store is awesome, mom!". 

With gift in hand, we were now ready to pick up the other wee Websters and head over to meet George.

The kids were bouncing in the car the whole way there.

As excited as he was, Avery did not want to hold George.  He was a little timid of his kitty craziness, and according to Avery, I traumatized him when I put George up close to his face.  "Dad, it was so freaky!  He came at me with this huge mouth and I thought he was going to eat me".  Yes, he is so terrifying . . .

I shouldn't tease him, though, since Avery's fear is the only thing saving us from being harassed to get a kitty of our own.  And that is especially lucky for Mr. Level-Headed, who really does not like cats, and who, as we all know, really wouldn't have a say in the matter . . . 

tee hee! 

I know, boys, it really isn't funny how we treat you.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Cookies Cure Everything

At 9:04 am I heard the first, "When is Elliot coming home?", and that was enough to kick me into high gear.  The night before I planned a playdate for Avery with one of his buddies from our church, but we still had three hours before we left.  In the words of Avery, "3 HOURS!  That's literally like my entire life!". 

Avery's new favourite word is literally and it makes me giggle every time I hear him say it.  It's such a grown up word for such a little guy, nonetheless he uses it all the time.  I literally fell off my chair . . . Literally, my heart stopped . . . and so on and so on, but the funniest time was the other day after we came up from the beach.   After he had said it, he turned to me and said, "don't you like my L-sound when I say literally" . . . tee hee!  We have been working with a speech therapist to help Avery out with a couple of his consonant sounds, and L is one of them.  Usually the words we practice are lion, lake, lollipop and other kid-friendly words, but I guess Avery came up with a better one . . . tee hee!  

Anyhoo, so how was I going to entertain him for three hours?


Zoe is the queen of chocolate chip cookies so she took right over, while I ran around and completed a few odd jobs.  She is also a task master so Avery didn't even have an opportunity to voice a complaint. She put him right to work.  That girl is going to be such a great mama someday!

After they mixed the eggs, sugar and vanilla, Zoe collected all the dry ingredients.  When we had our cat, who by the way was named Princess Kitty and was the WORST cat on the planet, I would buy the heavy duty plastic containers of kitty litter.  Well, one day as I was about to recycle the container, I thought it would make an excellent storage bin for my flour.  This grosses my sister out to the extreme, but I washed it out really well and, presto, it was awesome!  Well, I guess Avery had never seen my container because when Zoe pulled out our "Kitty Litter Flour", Avery looked at her in horror and asked "what are you doing with the cat poop stuff?".  Without even blinking an eye, Zoe responds: "Oh, this?  This is our secret ingredient" . . . tee hee!  I thought he was going to puke right there on the spot.  It was hilarious!  I am always proud of Zoe, but at that moment I was beaming.  She truly is going to be a great mama!

Here is Scouty using his ol' Jedi mind-tricks again. "Drop the cookie . . . . drop the cookie!"


Avery was the official taste-tester and as soon as we were given the okay, Zoe and I descended like a pack of starving vultures. We really are pathetic, especially when it comes to cookies.

Well, now I'm off to wake up Elliot for day #3 of camp, and to prepare our traditional morning-after breakfast of cookies and milk.  Mmmmm!  Cookies are perfect all times of day!  Don't you think?

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

And then there were two . . .

The big news around Shenanigans Inc. this week is that this guy is off to camp!

Skateboarding camp!

How much fun is that?

Judging from how exhausted he was last night after I picked him up, I'm guessing it was a whole lot of fun.

There was skateboarding, a game of Fishes and Whales, and water balloon fights.  What more could a ten year old boy ask for? 

But, while Elliot was playing Tony Hawk all day, this little guy was lost.

From the mama's point of view, it was an awesome day because, as many of you already know, all it takes is the removal of just one sibling and the angels begin to herald.  It was bliss!  Especially when that sibling is the high maintenance one who has difficulty entertaining himself for anything longer than ten minute intervals, but rest assured mama still loves ya, baby!  In fact, the morning went so smoothly I was actually able to vacuum, mop and clean a bathroom, three chores which I am ashamed to admit have played second fiddle to beach days and other summer adventures.  Please don't judge me . . . .

The day started out great!  Zoe and Avery headed to Lego city and I didn't hear a peep from them for at least two hours.  They were so caught up in playing and building they forgot all about the obligatory teasing, wrestling, and practical joking which typically fill our summer days.  Sorry, Elliot, but it doesn't look good for you.  Coincidence?  I am beginning to think not . . . tee hee!  It was almost creepy. But, then I heard a little squeal.  "Mom, I found Elliot's Lego man!  He is going to be so excited!", and the spell was broken.  From then on, I was followed around with forlorn looks of desperation, "when Elliot is coming home?" or "how many more minutes?".  Avery had lost his partner and crime, and things began to look bleak.

Mama, being the wise and wonderful woman she is, took the wee-est Webster down to our beach to cool off and to brighten his day.  I envisioned the two of us splashing, swimming, and laughing so much that the void in his heart would heal over.  How does that saying go?  The road to H-E- double hockey sticks is paved with good intentions?  Something like that.   Confession:  I know I said yestereday that we moms need to spend less time being spectators and more time being participants, but you really shouldn't listen to me.  Seriously, I'm not playing with a full deck!  Being a specatator is perfectly fine, especially when seaweed is involved. Another confession: I don't love anyone enough to swim in that stuff . . . tee hee!

Yuck!  But it didn't stop these two . . .

All was going well until Scouty kicked it into lifeguard mode and harrassed Avery each time he tempted to go for a swim. 

"My work here is done."

But, oh, how this makes Avery mad! 

Which then lead to a game of "Oh, look I'm swimming  . . .

 . . . and, now I'm standing!"

It must be some strange canine instinct because the minute Avery lifted his feet off the bottom of the river, Scout would rush into the water, but then would stop dead in his tracks as soon as Avery stood up again. It was hilarious and it entertained them forever! 

All good things must come to an end, though, and thanks to an aggressive horsefly who would not leave Avery alone, our beach excursion ended sooner than I had hoped.

Shoo, fly, shoo!
Well, I tried!  As for the hole in his heart, it was immediately mended as soon as Elliot walked through the door.  There were hugs, cheers, and stories shared.  Avery proudly returned his Lego man and they headed down to the basement. 

"MOM!  Elliot punched me! . . . Avery called me a loser!"

How many hours till Elliot returns to camp?

Tee hee!


Monday, 25 July 2011

I Made Their Day!

When exactly do we lose our interest in play?

When do we start saying, "Oh, I'm too old for that!"?

For me, I don't remember when it happened, but lately I find myself bowing out of the shenanigans more and more.  I blame it on my bad back, my overwhelming to-do list, or my responsibility as the family photographer, but really when it comes down to it, I think I have just become comfortable with being a spectator rather than a participant.  As parents, we become so intoxicated with watching our kids experience life that we forget to live ourselves.  Fun for us is watching their faces light up with wonder and awe as they experience something new or master a particular challenge, but what if we were actually a part of that moment?  What if we were the cause of their smiles?  Think about it.  They mean everything to us, and for a brief time, we mean everything to them so we need to make the most of it.  We need to play!

Let me set it up for you:  it was a very hot and humid morning.  The kids and I had just spent a grueling three hours preparing a patch for the strawberry plants my friend is giving me (and I am oh, so very excited about getting), and we were in desperate need of a cooling off. 
(Totally off-topic, but if you are wondering how on earth I ever managed to get my kids to help me with this chore, I'll let you in on the greatest parenting secret ever.  Shhh!  Don't tell this juicy tidbit to just anyone, but . . . kids can be bought!  Oh, yeah, it is amazing what they will do for "paper money".  Coins don't interest them because they get enough of those from the tooth fairy, but you wave a lovely $5 bill in their face and they are yours!  It's brilliant!)

Anyhoo, back to the cooling off.  Well, the kids are still pretty smitten with our makeshift slip-and-slide, so they grabbed their bathing suits and headed to the hill. 


"You're coming too, mom?"

"I sure am!"

Now, if you are in any way affiliated with Sport's Illustrated and let's say you happen to be working on their annual swimsuit edition, I'm surprisingly cheap!  Just inbox me, and I'll forward you to my agent, Mr. Level-Headed.  I'm sure we can work something out.

Ahhh!  Not the arms!  Anything but the arms!!

Not too bad for an ol' mama!

The kids couldn't stop laughing after they saw me ease myself onto the tarp.  This made no sense at all to them because "you go much faster when you have a running start!".  Yeah, I can see the grass burns now!   

Here's  how the pros do it:

I think the best part was seeing Mr. Level-Headed's expression when the kids greeted him after work with "mommy, went on the slip-and-slide!".

To which I replied: "yeah, I'm cool like that".

Tee hee!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Unplugged Kids

I hate television!

And I have struggled with my children's relationship with it forever!

If it was up to me, we wouldn't even own a television, but Mr. Level-Headed can not live without his football.  So, we're stuck with it.  Oh, and of course, we also have to keep it for our weekly movie nights so I guess it does serve a purpose.

One summer, when Derrick went away on a business trip for two weeks, I decided I was going to show him that life would be better without that intrusive, ugly black box sitting in our living room, and I decided to stash it away in our storage room.  I did not allow its immense size to deter me, and once I got it off the stand, I shimmied it all the way to the closet. This was the only time I was ever thankful for the carpet in our kitchen.  I know!  Who does that? Gross! 

I felt empowered!  Zoe and I would no longer be slave to the black box's alluring call.  We would spend our days reading books, doing puzzles, playing games, exploring the great outdoors, and enjoying one another's company.  The day was awesome, and Zoe quickly dozed off after such a fun-filled day with her mama.  But then our apartment became eerily quiet, and I realized I was all alone.  I could hear the buzz of my neighbour's television, and it suddenly struck me, tonight was the season opener of Survivor.   Oh no!  What have I done?!  How do I come up these crazy hare-brained schemes? I really should never be left alone.

Out came the television once again, but this time I couldn't get it back up on the stand so it had to sit on the floor.  Oh, how I cringed every time someone visited me and asked why my television was just sitting there with the tv stand behind it.  "Well, you see . . . ."

Ugh!  For some, it is easy to stick to a one hour rule for their kids, but for me it has always been a struggle.  Well, that is until this summer.  Again, look at me!  Is there anything I can't do: a garden, my blog, and now master over the television?  I think we should declare this the Summer of Skov!

Anyhoo, my kids have been limited to one hour of screen time each day, and I have stuck to it!  I have gotten wise to my weak-mindedness, where in the past I would give them their hour as soon as they got up, but no, that does not work. You see, mornings around here are very busy and having their highly-rambunctious selves "zoned" into the tv is just too heavenly and gradually the time would extend and extend and extend until they became mummified little zombies lying listlessly on the couch.  It was very sad!  So, this summer, they have an hour before supper time because then there is a built-in shut off time.  Problem solved!

In all honesty, though, it was rough-going for the first three weeks.  There was whining, looks of desperation and the dreaded last resort cry: "you are the worst mother in the world!", but, I held firm and stuck to it even when Elliot would plead "but, tv is what I was made for!".  Then suddenly, I noticed the complaining had disappeared, and they slowly got back into the routine of being home all day.  They began to amuse themselves, and it was bliss! 

I knew no one would believe me so I snuck around the other day taking pictures of them to prove it can be done.  Twenty-first Century kids can be happy without being plugged in at all times of the day.  Who knew?
Check it out!

Avery explored potential occupational interests like massage therapy.

His technique may be unconventional, but . . .

his customers leave happy, and that's all that really matters, right?

Feeling limber from her recent massage, Zoe decided to entertain everyone with her amazing dance skills.

The boys went next, but I was called away by my laundry.  Ugh!  Housework always spoils the fun.

After lunch, the kids headed down to the cool basement to play with their Lego City.  This has been amusing them for weeks now.  I love Lego!

After a brief squabble over whose Lego man has the best Super-hero qualities, Avery came up for a little "quiet time". 

He loves the Biebs! 

Then, one of my wonderful "unplugged" kids came up with the idea to wash my car!  Do they realize I may just may never let them watch television again? 

See, life is better without television, and they will thank me . . . someday!
Confession: After our very tiresome, but wonderful day at New River Beach on Wednesday, we kind of had a tv day yesterday. I know.  But, I can't be strong all the time . . . tee hee! 

Here's hoping you have a shenanigan-filled weekend! Four Websters and a Skov will be heading to see the final Harry Potter movie.  We are so excited!!