Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Like Putty in your Hands . . .

I have unlocked the mystery to a teenager's heart.

No kidding!

And the best part is that it is super easy and super cheap!

Sure, teenagers are known for their external crustiness, their uncontrolled mood swings, their flippant facial expressions, and my personal favourite, their tear-your-heart-out-and-stomp-on-it put downs, BUT all of these vile side effects of a hormone-enraged body simply melt away with my secret weapon.  And for one brief moment, you will see that precious little spirit you gave birth to so many years ago reemerge, and you will even, I kid you not, hear these most sacred words fall out of their mouths like drops of manna from Heaven: "Mom, you are the best!".

I know!

This is powerful stuff, folks, and it must be treated with the utmost respect and reverence. 
Are you ready for it?

one . . .
two . . .
three . . .

Ta da!

Now, I warn you.  As you are approaching the drive-thru, your teenager will revolt and say something like, "Ugh!  NOT Rotten Ronnie's".  It's almost as if they can feel the power of the McDonald's Happy Meal already at work peeling away their crusty exterior piece by piece, and the closer you get to the order window the louder their wailing and whining will become.  You know, they work very hard to build this shell of contempt and they will stop at nothing to protect it:  "Are you trying to make me fat?  Have you seen that movie?  HE NEARLY DIED!  Oh, so you are trying to kill me, is that it?  When I'm a parent, my children will NEVER be allowed to eat this junk, and so on and so on.  Finally, all of your orders will be placed, and you will look at your teenager in one final act of kindness and ask: "Would you like anything, sweetheart?", to which they will roll their eyes and cry out in resignation: "FINE!  Just give me a chicken nugget Happy Meal".  Then do not say a word.  Hand the Happy Meal box, and it has to be the box because the bag pales in comparison to the supremacy of the almighty box, over to your teenager and allow the magic to happen. 

Voila!  Their defenses are weakened . . .

and you only have a twenty second window of opportunity to grab your camera to document this rare and fleeting moment of teenage contentment. Godspeed, my fellow parents!  Godspeed!

tee hee!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Irene, Irene, Irene . . .

Shenanigans Inc. is back online!


Typically, I love a good storm, but I am definitely not a fan of Irene.  Most of the storms we get here in New Brunswick are snow storms, and I love them because a good blizzard means lying in your bed waiting for the radio broadcaster to announce that school is cancelled, which he almost always does, rolling over and falling back to sleep, wearing your jammies all day long, watching movies, and drinking hot chocolate.  They are awesome!  But hurricanes, or post-tropical storms, which is what Irene devolved into by the time she greeted us, are a whole different story.
Knowing my kids and Scout were sleeping soundly in Zoe's room, I curled up beside Mr. Level-Headed, burrowed myself deeply beneath my duvet and drank in Irene's spectacular feast for the senses.  I was soothed to sleep by the sound of her pelting rain on my sky lights and her howling winds outside my bedroom window, the sight of her erratic light show, and the smell of her moist, southern air. 

She was magnificent! 

Two hours later, though, I was awakened out of my blissful revelry by a crying child, who is terrified of the dark and who was startled to learn that the power had gone out.  He crawled in between Mr. Level-Headed and I, and we fell back to sleep.


Pumped full of adrenaline and fear, I jumped out of bed.

What was that?! 

I guess I was the only who heard it because the two sleeping bodies beside me did not budge.  I peered outside my bedroom window to see what had happened, but it was too dark to see.  At this point, I had envisioned one of the large trees that surround our house to have fallen on one of the cars, or even worse, our roof.  By now, I am not sleeping and there is no way I will be sleeping with the dynamic duo coursing through my veins.  Ugh!  It was going to be a very long night.

Eventually, I did fall back to sleep, and I was shocked to wake up to the sun streaming through our window.  With the power still out, Mr. Level-Headed and I went around to assess the damage.  It turned out that the crash outside our window was from a piece of the fascia on our roof, which had been torn off by the wind and blown onto a nearby tree.  All-in-all, our home fared pretty well in the storm, and so with some fear and trepidation, we walked around to check out the garden.


It was destroyed.

My  bean plants.

My corn stalks.

My tomato plants
It was devastating to sift through the damage.  The low-lying plants like our zucchini and cucumber were unharmed, and, luckily, the tomato plants only had to be secured back up, but the corn stalks were broken and many of the bean plants were uprooted.

 Due to the remaining high winds, the ferry was down, which meant Mr. Level-Headed could stay home and help me salvage what was left of our crop.  I was most upset over the corn because prior to Irene's post-tropical wrath, it was flourishing, but after being hewn down prematurely, there were only three corn left that were ready to be eaten versus the ten that had to be discarded in the compost bin . . . weep, weep.

But, they were awfully tasty!

This is what my garden looks like today:

It's pretty bleak.

Thank heavens I have found some good recipes for zucchini because, guess what kids, that is all we've got to eat until next year's crop comes in . . . 

tee hee!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Toy Store Mayhem

All summer long, Avery has been saving his allowance and offering to do odd jobs around the house to earn some extra cash so he could go to Toys R' Us and buy any toy he wanted.  He was obsessed!  Each week, he pored over the flyer's and took note of what toys were in his top ten favourites.  He counted his money daily, and he was quick to pick up every stray coin he found.  On Tuesday, when I was cleaning my room, I found a huge tin of coins and told the kids that whoever rolled it could keep it.  Zoe and Elliot were engrossed with something on television and couldn't be bothered with some piddly change, but Avery jumped at the opportunity.  $23 dollars later, he was giddy and the older kids were kicking themselves.  It was time to go shopping!

And he couldn't have been happier.

But what to choose? 

 It only took moments after walking into the store for his carefully crafted wish list to fall apart.  He walked up and down the aisles being coached by his older, and very envious brother, who is terrible with money and, therefore, always broke. 

Check out this sale:

Just when I thought he had finally made up his mind, he would turn and say "I know what I am getting!" and bolt for the other side of the store.  This happened at least ten times before I realized that my little fellow was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  It was as if his eternal happiness rested upon this very choice, and it was too much for him to bear. 

Finally, much to Elliot's dismay, he decided to buy a poster of the Biebs.

This small purchase seemed to ease his tension and get the ball rolling.

Then he quickly grabbed some Phinneus and Ferb figurines:

But wait . . . something was calling out to him from across the store, and in a blink of an eye, the action figures were discarded and he was off to bigger and brighter possibilities.

A flying helicopter!! Okay, that is pretty cool.

He marched up to the check out, grabbed some batteries on the way, and paid for his purchase.  Now, you are probably waiting for me to insert a touching reflection  here on watching my baby grow up and the value of hard work and perseverance, but nope.  I've got nothing!  After making what felt like a gazillion sprints throughout the aisles, while narrowly avoiding the pools of kid drool that accumulate throughout the day in front of the most coveted toys, I was drained of all my warm fuzzies. 

Yeah, yeah . . . you bought a toy.   Fine, I will take one more picture.

But wait . . . what is that toy over there?  NOOOOOO!

tee hee

It is so hard being a kid in a toy store.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

When Dad Steals the Show!

This week I have been really try to get back into the swing of things by staying on top of my housekeeping and by making sure we polish off the last few items on our "summer to-do" list (the fun stuff not the work stuff).  All I have to say is . . .

I'm exhausted!

But a good exhausted.  Even though I am bone-tired, I feel that I have accomplished something this week, and it feels good!

As you have heard, I am in a bit of a panic as to how I am going to get everything done now that our days will be incorporating three hours of school work somewhere amongst all the other craziness that goes on around here, so I came up with a plan to keep my house clean without having to spend an entire day doing it.  No, unfortunately, I am not hiring help, but if some gracious reader out there would like to volunteer their time, that would be greatly appreciated . . . tee hee!  No, I have started something called zone cleaning.  I read about it on a blog earlier in the summer and thought it was the perfect solution to my predicament.  You need to check out the Fly Lady.  Her website has wonderful ideas to help you get on top of your clutter.  I love her!

But, the kids are not loving it.  They do not like when mama is busy cleaning because that means they have to entertain themselves.  GASP . . . the horror!  Yesterday, though, I got wise and and warned that whenever they whined about this being the most boring day ever, I would find something for them to do.  With the threat of work hanging over their heads, they ran outside and enjoyed a lengthy, and very intense game of Capture-the-Flag.  But then 4pm hit, and they couldn't take it any longer.

You see, Mr. Level-Headed promised the boys he would take them fishing Wednesday evening at one of the lakes up from our house.  Okay, let's be honest here, I promised them their dad would take them fishing . . . tee hee!  

Well, after an entire day of waiting, Elliot finally lost his cool and the whining commenced.  So, as I had promised earlier, he was kindly assigned this task to help distract him:

This is a win-win situation. I got my beans cut up
 and he got to look out the window watching for dad's car.
Then, in typical sibling fashion, when the angst of anticipation becomes too much to bear, the bickering, the poking, and the teasing erupted, and I, who at this point had lost all patience, declared it was quiet time!  Initially, if you were standing outside my window, you would have thought I was performing cruel and unusual torture on each them, but, eventually, they settled into it.  I really should have done this earlier!

For most people, I am sure this is what your entire summer looked like, but not here at Shenanigans Inc.  I have high-maintenance, high-energy kids,who need to be moving at all times of the day.  Thank heavens they are cute!

Finally, Mr. Level-Headed called to say he was on the ferry, and the boys sprang into action.

  I am beginning to think their favourite part about fishing is digging for worms.

Don't feel sorry that Zoe appears to be doing all the work here because this
only happened after she yelled at the boys for doing it all wrong and
demanding the shovel from them . . . tee hee!

Don't you love the vest?  As soon as he heard he was going
fishing, he ran down to the dress-up box and pulled this out.

  Once supper was done and the fishing poles were de-tangled, the boys were off and ready for some adventure!

Zoe and I were heading to soccer practice so I handed over the camera to Mr. Level-Headed and begged him to take a few pictures for today's post.  He was less-than impressed, but being the good husband he is, he simply nodded and put the camera in this pocket. 

When Zoe and I arrived home, they were all curled up on the couch eating their bed-lunch and watching one last cartoon for the day. 

How was it?

And the stories began . . .

We got lost!

Yeah, dad took us too far in the woods!

Scouty loved it!

He swam and swam!

Avery caught some green, slimy stuff,

but, no, we didn't get any fish.

It was still awesome, though!

Look closely in the water:

Yep, that's Scouty . . . tee hee!

I wonder why they didn't catch anything?

Thanks, Mr. Level-Headed, for being a fantabulous dad and for creating treasured, summer memories with our boys.  They will never forget it!  Oh, and by the time they are old and gray, the green slime on Avery's hook will have grown into a three foot trout . . . tee hee!

Love you, babe!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

A Summer Evening Bike Ride

Growing up, I spent the entire summer on my bike.  

As little kids, I remember my friends and I would pretend our bikes were cars and we would whiz around our dead-end street until the sun set and our parents hollered it was time to come in.  As a teenager, my bike allowed me to connect with all my friends who were spread out over the Kennebecasis Valley.  I loved the freedom it offered and the bragging rights I earned by saying "yeah, I biked here on my own".  Ahh, the good ol' days!

For my kids, growing up in a rural area, living on a "country highway", they do not get to use their bikes very often.  It's the one thing I do not like about where we live. Sure, they buzz around our driveway a fair bit, but this is not as exhilarating as riding around the neighbourhood on your own looking for trouble, and so they quickly get bored with their bikes and abandon them in favour of a backyard game of football, soccer, or baseball.

With summer soccer over, we found ourselves last night with an evening free and so we decided to pop across the river to visit Grammie and Grampy.  Then I had a great idea!  This would be a perfect opportunity to go for a bike ride, to show the boys all the best biking routes in my old neighbourhood, and to give them a taste of what my childhood was like.  Unfortunately, my back has not been 100% this summer so I opted to walk and Zoe came along with me.  It was a beautiful evening!  As Zoe and I chatted, the boys zoomed ahead of us.

And they're off . . .

Taking a little break from all his hard work.

Here is the big hill I would go down with no hands and NO HELMET!  How did I ever manage to survive my childhood?

Avery thought it looked too steep for him so he started halfway down.  Kids of the 21st century . . . what wimps!

Near the finish, Elliot decided we were too slow for him and headed back to Grammie's on his own, where he bumped into Grampy coming home from work.

Now, when I was a kid, my dad would jump on his 12 speed and take us on biking adventures, but not these days.  These days he only rides a Harley!  Nonetheless, the boys convinced him to go for a spin around the block with them.

They are quite the gang!

Here are Zoe and Avery trying to keep up with the speed demons, Grampy and Elliot.

When we made it about halfway home, guess who came zipping up behind us?

According to Elliot, riding with Grampy was "epic awesomeness"!

Then it was Avery's turn.

Avery was a little nervous so he gave Grampy strict instructions not to go fast!

By the end, he was no longer scared.

Not being one to get left out of the action, I demanded a turn.  This made the boys roar with laughter!

All I have to say is "Wow"!  Now, I understand why so many people love motorcycles.  It was a blast!  Mr. Level-Headed, I have figured out what we can do when the kids grow up: join a bike gang.  You'll love it!  I promise . . . tee hee!

As you can see, our bike ride down memory lane took an alternative route, but, hey, times change and they do say the future always gets brighter.  Except in our case, the future got a whole lot faster!

Thanks, Grampy!


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

I Can See Clearly Now the Rain is Gone

There is nothing better than waking up to a sun-filled room, especially if you haven't seen the sun in a very long time.  It fills me with optimism and energy!  What seemed impossible yesterday has suddenly become exciting to me, and I am ready for the challenge.

Back story . . .

Yesterday was gross.  The wind and rain dampened our spirits here at Shenanigans Inc., and we spent the day roaring our terrible roars and gnashing our terrible teeth.  It was miserable!  No one had anything nice to say to one another, and I spent the entire day breaking up fights, sending children to their room, and threatening to ship them off to the highest bidder on eBay.  Yes, I think it is fair to say that this was definitely not my best parenting day!  

Amidst all this fury, I began to panic.  How am I ever going to home school this bunch of ruffians? 

He is so adorable even when he driving me crazy!

All I could envision was the tantrums, the fighting, the refusals to cooperate, and the threats I would have to make to keep them in line.  In exasperation, I confided to Mr. Level-Headed that this will never work!  In typical Mr. Level-Headed fashion, he laughed it off and told me I was cute.  This usually works to turn my mood around because I am slightly vain and, once he alludes to my overwhelming cuteness, I can not help but smile and agree, but this was not going to work today.  No!  Did he not understand the pain and anguish I had put myself through the entire day?  Did he not understand the severity of the mistake I was about to make?  Did he not realize just how many of my past attempts to incorporate a summer enrichment program for the kids had failed?  Ugh!  So, after supper, I headed out to my garden, where I am not mocked and where the silence of my surroundings brings some much-needed tranquility to my tormented soul.  To my astonishment, my garden was heavy laden with an abundant crop.  It was amazing!

Harvesting this bounteous crop calmed my fears and helped me to think clearly.  Sure, I had attempted gardening in the past only to fail miserably, but not this time.  This time I was committed.  This time I planned, prepared, and worked hard.  This time I succeeded just like I am going to succeed with home school. 

With a resurgence of confidence, I headed to the basement and began to put our school together.  Although the curriculum has not come in yet, I poured through my boxes of teaching supplies as well as some other teaching tools, like math manipulatives, I had collected earlier on for my doomed enrichment programs, and was able to come up with this:

Not a bad start!
Sorry about the sun's glare, but this is how I envision it will look
each morning we start class. 

Math and reading manipulatives.  Plus two bins for the boys
to keep their books in. 
Setting up my basement classroom was so reminiscent of past Augusts, when I would go in to the school and set up for the new school year,except this time I did not have that aching pain in the pit of my stomach.  I was not worried about how my family would manage without me and how another intense school year with a distracted mom would affect them because this time around, we would be together in our own home.  It felt so right!  I am getting back to what I love to do, and I am getting to share it with my boys.  When Mr. Level-Headed came down to see my progress, I hugged him and told him this is going to be the best year ever! And, as usual, he laughed and told me I was cute.  Except this time, I had to agree!

tee hee!

Oh, and did you hear the awesome news?  I won a customized necklace and earring set from the amazing Darling Dilemma!   You can read all about my fantabulous prize here.  I am so excited!!!

Monday, 22 August 2011

A Fond Farewell

You have reached 4 Websters and a Skov; unfortunately, we cannot come to the phone right now as we are probably busy with one of the following: sleeping, watching movies, playing soccer, making Smores, playing charades around the bonfire, or frolicking on the beach.  We will be back in September!  

It has finally hit . . .

I am done with summer.

Waking up this morning to the cool breeze and a general lack of stickiness, made me long for fall and all the wonderful things that come with September:  new shoes, new books, sunny days with large, puffy white clouds speedily blowing by, and a house that doesn't need to be wrung out from all the humidity.  Mostly, though, I am excited for a new schedule.  I try very hard to institute a schedule each summer, as you already know, but it never works out because it goes against everything that summer stands for:  late nights by the bonfire, and lazy days in the sun and sand.  The house doesn't get cleaned, meals are thrown together haphazardly, and every day brings a new surprise.  In the beginning, this fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, carefree attitude is invigorating!  I love not having to get up at a certain time, not having to wrestle the kids into bed, and not having to do anything that even remotely reeks of responsibility, but then something snaps and I suddenly wake up from my sun-induced revelry.  Panic strikes.  WE HAVE ONLY TWO WEEKS LEFT BEFORE SCHOOL!  For some, this means it is time to kick it into high gear and make the most of what is left of the summer sun (I crack myself up . . . this should read summer fog), but for me, it means it is time to slowly institute some order back into our lives, to reintroduce my kids to their alarm clocks and to their books, to wash the sand out of our bedsheets, and to put everything back to its rightful place.

Summer, I love when you come to visit.  I love how your hot sun kisses my kids' skin and turns them golden, brown, how your long days welcome us outside to enjoy the magnificence that surrounds us, and how your leisurely demeanour encourages us to bask in the simple pleasures of life and to enjoy those we have to share it with.  Thank you, again, for this refreshing break from the ordinary, but alas, my ol' friend responsibility is calling and she is tired of being sent directly to voicemail  . . . 

The 4 Websters are especially happy that September is just around the corner because with it comes FOOTBALL!

Let's go Patriots!
What do you love about the Fall?

Friday, 19 August 2011

A Shameless Plea

It's Friday!

And that means it's date night, but, unfortunately, here at Shenanigans Inc. the date night fund took a beating this week.  Curriculum had to be bought, not one but two windshields had to be replaced (gotta love those rural highways of Kingston), and fall activities like soccer and piano had to be saved up for . . . pout, pout.

So, I have come up with an ingenious plan to ensure this tragedy never happens again.  I have decided to beg for freebies from those of you, whom I know and love, that own and operate some of the fine establishments in our area in exchange for advertisement here on my blog.  A little I scratch your back and you scratch mine never hurt anyone.  Awesome idea . . . right? Oh, come on, humour me!

Let's go!

  • Now before you go out on a date, you want to be smelling your best, and instead of grabbing the old bar of Dove found on your shower ledge, I suggest you try my friend, Melissa's, homemade soap.  It is amazing and comes in super yummy scents like root beer float and black licorice.  I mean it, they smell so good my puppy tries to eat them.  You can find Melissa's shop, The Hampton Soap Co. at the Kingston Market each Saturday morning, and as an added treat, this Saturday, my baby girl will be working Melissa's table for her.  How exciting is that?  You get scrumptious bars of soap plus a chance to chat with the uber-cool Ms. Zoe Webster.  

  • If you are like me, your wardrobe is probably becoming a little drab and worn-out looking, and, since it is date night, you need to spice it up a little with some beautiful jewellery.  It just so happens that my friend, Darling Dilemma, sells splendid jewellery on her etsy shop and is currently having a sale plus a contest, where you have a chance to win a customized necklace from her collection.  I love jewellery, but I love free jewellery even better, and this plug has nothing to do with the fact that if I blog about her contest then I get my name in twice for her draw.  Nothing at all . . . wink, wink.  Check out her blog here to get all the details.  This is one of my favourite pieces from her collection:

  • Now that you are all dressed and smelling good, it's time to paint the town red (Rule #1 for all writers:  never use tired, worn-out cliches, but it's Friday and my brain is a little soggy from all this fog . . . sorry).  My ideal date night involves dinner and a movie, and I love to go to the Bourbon Quarter, which is owned and operated by my long-time friend, Shawn, and his family.  This is a fantabulous restaurant located on Prince William Street, and you have to try it out . . . wink, wink, nudge, nudge . . . can you see the possibilities, Shawn?  You give me free food, and I put embarrassing photos of me eating your very messy but ever-so delicious chicken wings right here on the ol' blogspot and rave about how yummy they taste.  See?  In all seriousness, though, the food is scrum-dillicious and the atmosphere is perfect for a quiet date for two.  Get out there and try it, and, oh, make sure you tell them at the door that Shenanigans Inc. sent you so that Shawn can see the unlimited potential of our innocent business venture.

  • Once your belly is full, it is time to head over to Empire Theatres for a movie . . . wink, wink.  Anyone out there work for Empire Theatres because I could really use some free movie passes. I know they say that a movie is not an ideal date because you sit for two or more hours staring at a screen not talking to your companion, but come on, after twenty years, Mr. Level-Headed and I no longer need to communicate.  In fact, we have been together so long we can now communicate telepathically . . . tee hee!  Seriously, though, if you are looking for a good movie this weekend for your own date night, you need to see The Help.  I saw it on Wednesday night with some girlfriends and I loved it, which is something because I usually loathe movie adaptations of my favourite books, but this one is awesome!  Oh, but make sure you take some kleenex because you will cry, not the ugly cry, but you will definitely cry. 

There you have it.  My shameless plea for a free date night with my hubby.  Any takers?

Oh, and so as not to leave out any of you who may not be associated with the fine establishments I have mentioned, you could always hire my husband to help you buy a new house.  Look around!  You know you want something bigger.  You know that your kitchen no longer works for you, and you just don't have the energy for renovations.  Right?  Give him a call, he will gladly get you out of that dump you are currently living in.

tee hee! 

Have a great weekend!

By the way, if you are looking Mr. Level-Headed and I tonight we will be taking our adorable puppy on a romantic, but very cheap, hike; that is, unless my shameless plea tugs on the heartstrings of my very generous friends . . . wink, wink.