Friday, 21 December 2012

A Shenanigan-Filled Christmas!

Well, it is finally here!  The last weekend before Christmas. This will be my last post until the new year because like you, I plan to dedicate the next two weeks to family, friends, food, board games, books, movies, puzzles and sleeping in.  There is nothing quite like Christmas!

Before we part for the holidays, though, I would like to share one final Christmas tradition we here at Shenanigans Inc. enjoy and that is sleeping under the Christmas tree.  I stole this idea from a dear friend of mine three years ago, and we love it!  Okay, let's be honest; the kids and I love it!  Mr. Level-Headed is a strict I-Sleep-In-My-Own-Bed kind of guy, but luckily, our bedroom is directly off of our living room, and if we leave the door open then we can see him sleeping soundly from our cozy sleeping bags on the floor.  It works!

We reserve this foolishness for the Eve of Christmas Eve.  The kids get into their jammies and we set up our beds.  Then, the kids exchange their Christmas gifts to each other, and we curl up to watch a Christmas movie.  This year, I have decided to take it one step further.  Of course you did, Krista!  Every Christmas, I bake a cake and the kids sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.  Unfortunately, because Christmas is so chaotic with my family and the Level-Headed family here, that it feels kind of rushed and no one ever eats the cake because there are so many other goodies to be had.  So, this year, I have decided to turn our Sleep-Under-the-Tree event into a birthday, slumber party for Jesus.  We will have His cake that night, and before the kids exchange their gifts, we will each give a gift to Jesus, an act of kindness that we will commit to carry out in the New Year.  Cute, right?   . . . Or too much?  I can't decide, but what the heck, I am going for it anyway . . . tee hee!  Wish me luck.

Merry Christmas everyone, and I hope your holiday is filled with love, laughter and peace.  Oh, and don't forget the shenanigans!  See you in 2013!

Can you believe that we are about to embark upon 2013?  It sounds so science-fictiony!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Snow Day Gifts

I received my present from Santa a little early this year, and when I saw it, I began to giggle.  It was pitch black outside and I was just leaving the Superstore, when the world around me, instantly, turned into a giant snow globe.  Staring up into the dark, night sky and watching the ginormous, fluffy flakes fall softly down upon the earth, I could not help but laugh.

It is really happening.  Christmas is finally here!

I know this is not a popular opinion amongst the over 25 club, but I love the snow!  It blankets over the drab, brown desolation that fall leaves behind, and turns the world into a wintry, whimsical playground, one that begs you to venture out from your warm home, to pack the cold, wet stuff between your mittens and to  throw it at the nearest, unsuspecting bystander.  Snow is magical!

The other reason why I love the snow so much is that it keeps my two monkeys entertained for hours.  From the wee hours of the morning until just before bedtime, my boys are out there making forts, throwing snowballs, sledding down our hill, and building ramps.  I love when they come back in with their red, rosy cheeks, smelling like the outside because they are exhausted!  In fact, they are too tired to even fight.  They just curl up with their blankets on the couch and peacefully watch a television show before bed.  It has been wonderful, and it is the best Christmas present this busy mama could ask for!

While the boys have been playing in the snow, I have been able to get all of my wrapping down and make a few last minute gifts.  I have decided to share one of my gift ideas with you today because A) the receivers of these gifts do not read my blog (If they do, shield their eyes NOW, Emmy and Peter . . . tee hee!) and B) they are my most favourite gifts to give and to make.  They are fleece, tie blankets, and I have been giving them as Christmas gifts for years.

They are the cosiest blankets ever, and they are super easy to make.

First, buy two, coordinating colours of fleece.  I like to make the blankets big enough so that they will fit nicely on a bed, and in order to do this, you need to buy 2 meters of each colour.  Also, wait for sales on fleece at Fabricville because it can be pricey, but, guess what?  There is a great sale on it this week! 

Second, lay the fleece on top of one another with the wrong sides together (the sides that do not look as nice).  

Third, trim all of the edges so that they line up with one another and so that the selvages are cut off (the white edges of the material that usually have the name of the manufacturer on it).

Fourth, cut a 4x4 inch square from each corner.  Then you make a 4 inch cut approx 1.5 inches away from the square. This cut makes your first tie.  Tie it and double knot it.  Do this on both sides of all your squares.

Fifth, go around the entire blanket making 4 inch cuts approximately 1.5 inches apart from one another.  Another great thing about these blankets is that they hide your inconsistencies very nicely; therefore, you do not have to measure anything out.  You can just eyeball it to see if it looks right.

Sixth, double knot all of the ties you cut.  I like to ensure that the opposite coloured tie ends up on top because this makes a nice contrast.  Also, the tying is so easy that you can get your kids to do it.  Both Avery and Zoe helped me yesterday, which made the projects go by even faster.

Seventh, stand back and ooh and ahh over your creation.

oooh . . . ahhhh!

They are really that easy and make the perfect, last-minute DIY Christmas gift.

Well, my boys are back in and they are looking for some breakfast.  I hope you have a great day, and try to get out there to enjoy the snow while it lasts.

Happy Five-More-Sleeps-Before-Christmas!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Getting our Craft On

In light of last week's devastating events, I decided that Shenanigans Inc. needed a kinder and more gentler week before Christmas.  We put away our school books, we dismissed our morning routine, and we got our craft on!

As Zoe and I made the drive to the IWK on Monday, I asked her to google craft ideas for the boys and I this week.  After much oohing and ahhing, we narrowed our crafts down to four projects, one for each school day left in the year.

On Tuesday, the boys and I made these adorable construction paper Christmas trees.  Unfortunately, the boys ran out of steam once they learnt there were four sides that needed to be decorated for each tree . . . tee hee!  Nonetheless, they got 'er done, and I think they are centrepiece-worthy:

Elliot, who has never been one for gluing on decals or pompoms, opted to draw cartoon figures on his tree.  What looks like dangling Christmas bulbs is actually vampire teeth dripping with blood.  This is what I get for crafting with boys . . . tee hee!

Today, we are making Candy Cane Mice.  This was our favourite idea of them all; therefore, I was so happy to learn that school was cancelled today because that means Zoe gets to join us.  These little guys are absolutely adorable:

I can't wait to see what the boys come up with . . . tee hee!

Tomorrow we are making signs to the North Pole and on Friday, we are making cotton ball Santa faces.  I LOVE Christmastime, and the closer we get to the big day, the better it gets!

Happy Snow Day everyone!

Oh, and if you are looking for fun Christmas craft ideas for you and your kidlets, Zoe found all of these ideas on the Martha Stewart website.  

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Happy Endings

Last night, Elliot curled up in bed between Mr. Level-Headed and I.  He was frightened and he was crying.  As I rubbed his back and assured him that he was safe, he innocently asked:

Mom, why do children have to die?  Why can't we all be allowed to grow old?

Unfortunately, I could not answer this question.  It is one that has always troubled me.  I am a firm believer in happy endings, and yet, this world does not seem to share my affinity for them, which is why I refuse to believe that This is all there is to life.  I snuggled in closer to Elliot, and with tears streaming down my face, I whispered:

I don't know, Bud.  I really don't know.

Words cannot express how heavy my heart has felt since Friday.  I am all too familiar with the pain of losing a baby whom I have never held or even seen, but how does a parent say good-bye to a child whom they have loved, nurtured, and enjoyed for six or twenty-seven years?  The depth of their pain is unfathomable to me.  I have wept and prayed for those whose lives have been touched by this tragedy all weekend.  I have held my boys a little tighter during our nightly scripture study, my lips have lingered a little longer on Baby Girl's forehead as I have kissed her goodnight, and I have sat and listened more intently to all of their tales and concerns.  

This is all I can do.  My tears can not mend the broken hearts.  My prayers can not bring those innocent lives back.  But, they can make a difference.  They can help me to better appreciate the blessings in my own life and help me to focus less on those blessings I have been denied.  They can help me to be more mindful of the sorrow of others and help me to be more "willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18:9).  If this tragedy does nothing more than to help everyone be a little more loving and a little more gentle in their words, their thoughts, and their actions, then it will not be for naught.  Then, indeed, this tragedy will have a happy ending after all.

Shenanigans Inc. would like to extend our heartfelt prayers to the community of Newtown, Connecticut.  

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matt 5:4)

Being a lover of happy endings, I would like to share our very own happy ending:  Baby Girl is healed and has gone into remission.  Hallelujah!  Here's to a healthier, happier, and gentler 2013.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Aspiring to Be Like Buddy

I have always complained that my children are picky eaters, but recently, at one of Zoe's appointments at the  IWK, I was speaking with the dietitian and she assured me that it sounded it like Zoe's diet included lots of diversity within the four major food groups.


So, I went along with what she was saying and decided it must be the boys who always complain at the dinner table.  Then, after much reflection on the matter (because, let's face it, I think every thing to death), I decided that my kids are not picky eaters; but rather, they are particular eaters.  Everything I make has to be made to their very particular and long list of requirements; for instance, they all like cinnamon buns, but you can not put cinnamon in anything else or they will gag and go on like you are poisoning them.  They love broccoli, but you better not go and cook it.  Stir fry is a huge hit, but it better not be soggy and it better not be too crunchy and it better not have too many peppers, but a few peppers are necessary, and so on and so on and so on.

Last night, after a busy day of trying to get school done with two boys who are hard-wired for nothing but Christmas right now (I really can't complain because this is entirely my fault), I decided to whip up a home-made pizza and a Caesar salad for supper.  The minute I started rolling out the pizza dough, I was inundated with a long list of suggestions:

Mmmm . . . pizza!  Don't forget the salami.

You mean pepperoni?

Yep, that's the one.

Make sure there are some veggies on my half!

Do NOT put veggies on my half!

Remember I don't like too much sauce.

Ohhhh!  I love the sauce.  Make sure there is lots of sauce.

Then Baby Girl texted me to tell me that she was almost home and was wondering what was for supper.  I told her and waited for the onslaught of all of her specifications:

It BETTER NOT have hamburger on it.

And you BETTER NOT have used the cheap pizza sauce.

She has such a lovely way of expressing herself . . . tee hee!

Then Avery ran up behind me, and pointed out that I always ruin my pizzas by putting on too much cheese.  Elliot then chimed in:

PLEASE do not put too much cheese on it!

And so this is what I came up with:

I have to admit I was feeling pretty pleased with myself for incorporating all of their suggestions until Avery came up behind me once again and groaned:

Why do your pizzas always have to look like that?!

Grrrr . . . .

With yet another supper-time fail under my belt and far too many things to do over the next couple of weeks, I have decided that for the remainder of this Christmas season we, the residents of Shenanigans Inc, are going on the Buddy the Elf diet and only partaking in sweet sugary goodness.  Because in all honesty, we are practically there already:

Thanks, Hil, for the idea!  We'll just call this a little gift to myself . . . tee hee!


Happy Two Weekends Before Christmas!  Oh, and I won't be checking in here at a Ferry Crossing Away until next Tuesday because Baby Girl and I are heading back up to the IWK for her last appointment of 2012.  Hooray!  Wish us luck.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Our Silent Night

It finally happened . . . we had a Silent Night.

It didn't start out that way.  The kids each had activities at the church, and by the time we returned home it was 8:30.  Mr. Level-Headed, who arrived home some time after we left the house, was studying for an upcoming assignment.  Everyone looked pooped, but I didn't let that stop me.  I told the kids to get their jammies on and meet me in the living room.  I started brewing some hot chocolate and pulled out the gingerbread cookies the boys and I had made earlier that day.  Elliot was the first one ready, and after he noticed what was going on, he excitedly ran around the house turning off all the lights.  Mr. Level-Headed started to suggest that it was probably too late for us to be doing this, but one look from me quieted his protest and he curled up on the chair.  He is such a good man!  When Avery came out to find the main room lit up by only the Christmas lights and hot chocolate and cookies sitting on the coffee table, he too began to get excited.  

I'm sitting with Mom!

Mom, don't forget to light the candles.

It warmed my heart to see how excited the kids were for our candle-lit scripture reading.  Last year, as I wrote in this earlier post, wrapping up our hectic days with Christmas cookies and reading scriptures by candlelight was the highlight of our season.  In spite of how much we enjoyed it last year, though, this year we just couldn't get our butts in gear to do it.  Sure, we read our scriptures each night, but everyone has been too worn out by bedtime to be concerned with adding the extra touches.  And as I learnt last night, it is the extras that make this activity so special.  In fact, the kids did not hang upside down or kick one another, which is their typical daddy-is-reading-from-the-scriptures shenanigans, because they were too preoccupied with their treats.  Embarrassingly enough, our scripture chain was a little backlogged and we had to read three nights worth of scriptures (how did we let that happen?).  Typically, this would have thrown the boys, in particular, into hysterics, but last night, they were begging for more.  Nobody wanted to leave their cosy spot.  There is something about fire that draws people near and makes them want to chat.  After the boys were tucked in, that is exactly what Mr. Level-Headed, Zoe, and I did.  We returned to our spots and started talking, and talking, and talking.  It was a magical evening, and now that we have done it once, I hope we continue to make the effort each night because it is so worth it.

The game-changers:

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

My Jolly, Round Elves

Being December 12, if you happened to come across these two jolly, round fellows, you would think:  

aaawwwww . . . they are pretending to be Santa Claus!

But, then you would give your head a shake because you would remember that you are at Shenanigans Inc., where the Webster boys reside and where nothing is at it appears.

So, you would sit down and carefully observe the shenanigans that are bound to ensue, and you would learn that they are, in fact, two sumo wrestling elves here to provide merriment for all their fellow weak-minded boys and girls.

tee hee!

These two monkeys never cease to amuse me.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

In Need of a Silent Night

This elf is spent, and she is in desperate need of a silent night.  By the way, have you heard this song from Amy Grant?  If not, you need to listen to it because it sums up exactly how I, and every other mother on the planet, is probably feeling right now.

Yesterday, I had an early morning appointment to get snow tires put on my car.  I sprang out of bed, quickly wrote up my blog, scarfed down some breakfast, and headed out the door.  Since it was a snow day, Zoe was home and I was able to leave the boys behind to put a major dent in my Christmas shopping.  It was like my very own Christmas miracle:  the stores were not busy, I was all by my lonesome, and I even had lunch with that hunk of a husband of mine.  But, as the hours passed and with each new store I entered, the spring in my step began to diminish.  I began to grow weary of all the toys, the jeans in everything shade of pastel imaginable, and the same Christmas songs playing over and over again.  Before the mall managed to zap every last ounce of my Christmas spirit, I decided it was time to grab some groceries and head home.

Once I was safely tucked back in my car, my trunk brimming with gifts, and the radio shut off, I could feel the layers of extraneous sights and sounds from my shopping excursion begin to flake off.  Amidst the silence of my car, I breathed a sigh of relief as I felt my Christmas glow slowly begin to return.

Unfortunately, although my glow had returned, my strength and patience remained zapped.  With supper done and the kitchen cleaned up, I laid on the couch wanting nothing more than a hot bath and an end to the day.  Mr. Level-Headed was still not home and so I had to put my plans on hold and muster up the last of my reserves to put the boys to bed.  There was a lot of yelling from all of the involved parties and the Santa sign was eventually turned to naughty, but in the end, I had two boys snugly tucked into their beds.  And then it happened.  A moment I would chew off my right arm to take back, and one of those moments that will haunt me to my grave.  In my exhaustion, my brain momentarily shut off, and I said something extremely stupid to someone so very dear to me.  I did not mean for it to come out that way, and I definitely did not mean for it to be interpreted the way it was, but that does not matter.  Words carry power, and as soon as they have been said or written, you are no longer in control of what they may do.  I know better than this.  Nonetheless, I said it.  It was insensitive.  It was hurtful.  It stung.  And it will never be forgotten.

After much explanation, consoling, and tears, I finally dragged my empty shell of a body to bed.  I turned off the lamp and let my tears flow freely upon my pillow.  I had screwed up, ROYALLY!  In all my gusto to send 2012 off with a bang, I had lost sight of what truly matters, my family.  I have been so consumed by my to-do lists and my daily goals, that I overlooked my main role as a mother.  A mother, who looks after not only her family's temporal needs but also their spiritual and their emotional needs.  A mother, who is sensitive to the feelings and plights of those around her and gauges her responses and actions accordingly.  Last night I was not that mother, and I can not lose sight of her again.

Like always, I was eager to wake up this morning and start anew.  Feelings were still hurt, but I am confident that time will heal them.  For now, though, I am going to slow down.  I am not going to stretch myself so thin that I am left unable to care for those I love.  I am not going to allow the Christmas spirit in my home to be dampened by over-scheduled days, worn out bodies and even more weary souls.  Christmas needs to be a time of peace, a time of joy, and a time filled with silent nights.

Monday, 10 December 2012

The Final Touches

On Sunday evening we celebrated Mama Skov's birthday.  For me, her birthday is the official kick off to the Christmas season.  I always host her party, and I try to have the house fully decorated for it.  I must say, Mr. Level-Headed and the kids sure delivered in that regard this year.  On Saturday, while I cooked and cleaned, they climbed, they decorated, they crafted and they grooved to Christmas tunes.  I love nothing more than those days when my family works alongside one another to get ready for a holiday.  There is something magical in the air when we are all singing, dancing, laughing and working together.  I will cherish these memories forever.

Here are the snowflakes Baby Girl made for my three windows in the main room.  I love these so much and they are so easy!

Here's Avery taking a moment to contemplate Christmas and to show off his brawny physique:

Mr. Level-Headed bought a HUGE tree this year!  We were so excited when he brought her in the house.  The kids loved her even more after we realized they would need a ladder to decorate her.

Rock'n around the Christmas tree:

And there he is:  my Mr. Level-Headed, braving the wind and the rain to make his wife happy.  You should all give him a big round of applause because it becomes particularly difficult to be the husband of yours truly during the Christmas season.

Here's Scout busy getting his nap on. Being the puppy of yours truly is also very hard work!

Finally, when the sun sank and our bodies grew tired from a hard day's work, we all stood back and enjoyed the beauty of what we had created.  It truly isn't Christmas until the tree is lit and decorated!

And as a nod to my sister Hilary, who is ten times the Christmas fanatic that I am (yes, it is possible) and who has always named her Christmas trees, I would like to present Geraldine, our 2012 Christmas tree.

Isn't she wonderful!

When she whispered her name to me late Saturday evening, I froze.  I have a dear friend named Geraldine, and I was fearful that she may be offended by this coincidence.  But that fear quickly passed after I marvelled at her splendour some more because, like my friend, Geraldine, our Christmas tree is bright, beautiful, strong, and positively perfect in every way. 

Now, I must be off!  I am on a top secret mission for good ol' Santy Claus because there are three little kiddos he feels have been especially good this year and does not want to disappoint on Christmas morning.

Wish me luck!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Callings in Life

I have so many thoughts swimming around my head since I saw Lincoln last night with my hubby.  Wow!   What an amazing movie about an even more amazing man.  I love movies that leave me lots to think about.  One idea that seems to be at the forefront of my mind right now, which was alluded to in the movie, is how we are are each sent here to earth for a specific reason, and our lives are filled with circumstances, experiences and challenges tailored in helping us become the individuals we need to be.  I believe this wholeheartedly, but I also believe that we choose whether or not we will step up to that role.  Abraham Lincoln clearly came here for a purpose,  and although, as the movie demonstrated so well, his calling in life was never easy, he embraced it and did his best to uphold it.  

A year ago, Zoe announced that she wants to become a doctor, and I can't help but think that all of the health challenges she is going through this Fall have a purpose. I believe Zoe's experience as a patient can serve to make her a better doctor someday, and I have no doubt she will be a brilliant one.

And then we have come to the reason why I am writing this post.  If we are each given lives filled with unique circumstances to help fit us for our purpose in life, what can Heavenly Father possibly have in store for my boys:

Yep, that looks to be about right . . . tee hee!

Well, whatever He has in store for them, I just pray they use their powers for good and never join the dark side.

Happy Weekend, everyone! 
 What do you have planned?  We've got a Christmas tree hunt, some Alpaca shopping, a Christmas party, and two birthday parties.  It's gonna be a good one!