Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Busy Being Me

I feel like I owe everyone an apology for not keeping you posted on all the antics going on here at Shenanigans Inc. lately, and there has been plenty of shenanigans, but no writing.


I really don't know.

It seems the writer within me is lying low.

She is at peace.

Typically, she is demanding to be heard,

dying to give my experiences shape and meaning,

but right now, she is dormant.


Resting from busy days filled with teaching, driving, cleaning, encouraging, comforting, loving, and disciplining.

Resting from busy weekends filled with dinner parties, plays, birthdays, and sleep overs.

Resting from a difficult winter, filled with many disappointments and challenges.


Observing my kids grow, live, and learn in their own unique ways.

Observing my very own piece of paradise, just a ferry crossing away, awaken from its winter slumber.

Observing how my life is slowly unfolding into something grander than I ever thought imaginable.


Thinking about my upcoming summer Writer's Workshops, my new chicken coop, and a new year of homeschooling.

Thinking about how blessed I am to be surrounded daily by four of the most precious, most interesting, and most lovable people in the world.

Thinking about how I can become a stronger, wiser, more patient, and more loving woman.

And enjoying.

Enjoying skirts, bare legs, and sandals (especially bright yellow ones).

Enjoying squeals of laughter, snuggles on the couch, kisses, and hugs.

Enjoying the sun that streams through my window in the wee hours of the morning and the sound of birds chirping outside my window.

 Enjoying dirty hands, dirty knees and tired muscles, as I prepare my garden for another growing season.

Enjoying just being me,

and all that being me entails:

a woman, wife, mother, teacher, writer, daughter, sister, and friend.

I can't think of anyone else I would rather be.

Oh, and because you are probably rolling your eyes by now and thinking enough already, here's a funny clip from our very own in-house comedian that kept us laughing all weekend long:

It's the change in his facial expression that gets us. Watch closely!

He is so darn cute!

tee hee!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

More than Just Homemade Cards and Breakfast in Bed

I have struggled with a post about Mother's Day all week.  I don't know why.  The day was wonderful: homemade cards, Indigo gift cards, breakfast in bed, and a BBQ with my family.  And yet I still struggled.  I had so many thoughts running through my head that I found it hard to put them all together and wrap them up in a nice, neat package, where, in the end, we are all left inspired and enlightened by some small truth I have uncovered.  

So, shall we see if I can do it again?

Because, in all honesty, I don't know if I can . . .

I was a little leery of this year's Mother's Day.  First of all, Mr. Level-Headed was in a course all weekend in Moncton, which meant I would be doing the "get-the-kids-up-and-ready-for-church" routine all by myself.  Secondly, the weekend was absolutely chaotic and my house bore the brunt of my neglect and would have to be straightened up before our guests came over at 6pm. And most of all, I worried that our Guest-of-Honour (my mom) would be unable to attend.  My mom has been struggling with a severe bout of depression for the past 18 months and holidays are particularly difficult on her.

When my eyes popped open on Sunday morning, I really wasn't expecting much.  As I came to, I heard a distinct pounding sound in the kitchen.  At first, I didn't recognise it, but it did not take me long to recall that familiar sound: the making of frozen juice.  And then it dawned on me.  I heard the squeals of laughter and the demanding voice of an older sibling in charge, and I smiled.  My babies were making me breakfast!  They got themselves up early and made breakfast all on their own.  I was so impressed!  As I laid in bed and ate my scrumptious breakfast, the kids took turns reading their cards to me, and I daydreamed about all the books I could buy with the Indigo gift cards they gave me.  It was heavenly!!

But then it was over.

I had to get the kids moving.  They needed showers, ironed Church clothes, and "positive reinforcements" to  put a smile on their face and to behave in church.

At a particularly frustrating moment, when I was about to cave under the pressure of my kids and declare it a "day off", I found my card from Mr. Level-Headed.  It was simple and sweet. 

On the last line, he apologised for not being there this morning and for not being able to do more to help out.  After reading his note, I mustered up some determination and unleashed my inner "tiger mom".  ROAR!!

Quit  your whining kids and let's get moving!  This is going to be a good day, and you are guys are going to help me.

After church, the munchkins needed to be fed, a cake had to be made, and our home needed to be put back in order.  

Then my mom called.  She was having a rough day, but after some kind words of encouragement, she managed to find the resolve she needed to come over and enjoy the evening with her family.

We ate, we laughed, and we discussed American politics (my mom has a mild addiction to CNN).  And then it was over.  It was exhausting, but it was a huge success!

As I curled up in bed that night, with my hubby snoring softly beside me, I tossed and turned.  I couldn't sleep.  Thoughts on Mother's Day and images of mothers ran through my head.  

What is Mother's Day?

Is it simply a consumer-driven holiday?

The world tells us it is a day, where moms should be pampered and relieved from their cares.  The week leading up to Mother's day is filled with advertisements offering reduced spa packages, get-away trips, and expensive jewellery to show Mom just how much we care.

I didn't get any of these.  It wasn't even a day off.  Does this mean I am not appreciated and loved?

Then my thoughts turned to my friends.  One, who is a single mom and had spent the afternoon working to support her little family.  Another, spent the afternoon in the hospital with her young son, who has Cerebral Palsy and who took a serious seizure at Church that morning.  Another, who spent the day at the bedside of her dying husband, and yet another, whose husband works far away, and who, like every other day, had to take care of her four kids on her own.  

Did they get pampered on Mother's Day?  Did they get a break from their daily cares and struggles?


And then something occurred to me.  

Each of us moms, don't call ourselves "Mother" for the recognition.  We don't do this job for the accolades or the rewards.  We do it out of love.  I struggled to get my kids out the door to church because I love them and know that is where they need to be on Sunday mornings. I didn't pout or freak out at my husband for not being there on my "special day" because I love him, and I know he works hard so that I can have the blessing of staying home and raising my kids.  I cleaned my house and prepared a meal for my family because I love my Mom and wanted to surround her with family on this day. And it was out of love that each of my friends faced their Mother's Day in their unique circumstances and made the most of it.

Being a mom is work. 
 It is sacrifice. 
 It is service.  

And, no amount of time at the spa, or the wearing of expensive trinkets, or the treasuring of homemade cards can make it any easier or any more wonderful.

So, I ask you:  do we really a need a day devoted to Mother's?

As I heard one mom this week at volleyball vent that she didn't get anything for Mother's Day, and therefore, felt hurt, I struggled again with this idea.

I know this family.  They are a loving family, and I am sure that they perform small acts of appreciation for their mom throughout the year, but because it did not happen on this one particular day, does that mean it is all for naught.  Does their lack of foresight negate all that they do the rest of the year?

It seems so.

And don't even get me started on what Mother's Day must be like for all those women out there who struggle with infertility and want nothing more than a child to call their own. Or, the moms who have lost a child.  Or the women who have just recently lost their moms.  Or the women who never had a mom in their life.

(Do you see why I couldn't sleep?)

And yet, although Mother's Day may never be perfect, may always be tied to consumerist ideals, may never, ever be a day off for those women privileged enough to be called Mom, and may, actually, be painful for so many, we need to observe it.  We have all been influenced by a woman at one point in time in our life.  It may not have been our "mom", but I am confident in saying that EVERY life here on earth has been touched in a positive way by some woman.  And we need to take a moment out of our hectic lives, grab some construction paper and crayons, and let those women, who have sacrificed so much to comfort us, protect us, nurture us, inspire us, teach us, encourage us, and love us, know that we love her too.  

Because, in all honesty, that is all she is working for:


Thursday, 10 May 2012


I love listening in on my kids' conversations!

I find them so funny and so insightful as to who they each are and what matters most to them.

Like tonight . . .

The boys had their jammies on and were seated at the kitchen table eating their bedtime snack, while Zoe was on the computer preparing for the District Math Competition she is attending in the morning.  Very quickly their conversation turned to the usual teasing.

Elliot squealed:

I bet Zoe is going to meet the man of her dreams at Geekfest tomorrow!

To which, Zoe replied:

Actually, I think Geekfest would probably be the best place for a person to meet their future spouse at.   Think about it, they would be super smart!

For some reason or other, Elliot did not come back with some snippy comment, but rather, he thoughtfully sat there for a moment and announced:

I'm going to meet my wife at church!

And of course, Zoe jumped all over this and started teasing him about potential crushes he may have on the girls in his Sunday School class.

Then all of a sudden, Avery pipes up:

I'm going to meet my wife in California, and she's going to wear coconuts on her "thingies" and a grass skirt!


Good to see he has his priorities straight . . .

Tee hee!

What a kid!!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

First the Wine Glasses, and Now Poetry

I come from a family of poets.

It is in my blood.

And, yet, the art of poetry eludes me.

My father and all of my siblings are published poets,

and I, well, I blog.

So, I was really shocked today when Baby Girl shared this poem with me:

by Zoe Webster

The blossoming flowers
pop and bang across the silent meadows
like fireworks in the night sky.
The once frozen ground is slowly revived
by these light giving wonders.
The yellow, the pink, the blue blind
my winter adjusted eyes and enlighten my darkened mind.
The war is over,
the light has won
when I see the blossoming flowers.

Beautiful!  Simply beautiful!

She may just have more Skov-Nielsen in her than I thought!

Great job, Baby Girl!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Baby Girl's Got Talent!

What did you do last night?

Well, Zoe learned how to play the wine glasses . . .

tee hee!

She is so cute!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Play-Doh Wars

Every evening last week, just before supper, I would do my daily chore patrol and pick up the day's books, clothes, toys, dishes, food, and wrappers that litter the house.  I enjoy this time of day.  In fact, I love it!  My children are sprawled out on the couch enjoying their one hour of screen time for the day, and I am alone with my thoughts.  Each of these discarded items have a tale to tell, and for the most part, they are stories of laughter, learning, and love.

But what made last week's patrol stand out was a small, lump of red Play-Doh.  Every evening, I would find it nestled in between my flower pots on the end table.  And every evening, I would pick it up, squeeze it into my palm, and place it back in it's container on the kitchen counter.  After three days of this routine, Avery came over to me and asked in exasperation:

Why do you keep putting my Play-Doh away?

It will dry out if it is left out like that.



Why didn't I think of that?

So, Avery opened up the Play-Doh container and went straight to work trying to fix what I had yet again destroyed.

After he was done and had gone back to his television show, I went over to check out this Play-Doh creation.

What is he making?

Then it dawned on me.  This is probably my Mother's Day gift.

 Awwww . . . my sweet little boy was making me a gift.  

My heart melted.

He can be so thoughtful.

I bent down to take a closer look at the small, red lump, and noticed an imprint of one of his Star Wars Lego men on the inside.

Well, that is strange.

Then it dawned on me; this is NOT a gift for me!  It is an encased Han Solo from one of the earlier Star Wars movies. Remember that?  Han is solidified in a metal grave by the evil, and very disgusting if I may add, Jaba the Hut.

Remember now?

Mother's Day?!  What was I thinking?  All that is on these boys' mind lately is Star Wars . . . nothing but Star Wars!

Sometimes, we, moms, can be very dense.

tee hee!

Happy Monday!

And in case you haven't heard, yet, I will be teaching a Children's Writing Course this summer.  Check out this link for details.  I already have students signing up.  We are going to have a blast!  Hope to see your kidlets there!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Creative Writing Workshops with Shenanigans Inc.

I am so excited to be finally announcing this!

Yes, you have heard correctly: The School of Shenanigans is opening it's doors this summer to all kids ages 8-14 for a creative writing workshop.  I am sure your kids will LOVE it!

Classes will be held every Tuesday and Thursday from 10:00-11:30 am at my house here on the Kingston Peninsula beginning July 3 and ending Aug. 23.

The cost will be $160 for the summer, with payments of $80 due on July 3 and Aug. 2.

The curriculum we will be using is Lucy Calkin's Units of Study for Teaching Writing (Grades 3-5). For more information on this curriculum check out this link. Don't worry if your child is of middle school age because this course can be easily adapted to meet their needs.  I have worked with this curriculum in the past, and have seen first hand how helpful it is in enabling children to find their "writer's voice".   If you are interested in learning more about this course, please email me at

Hope to see you this summer!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Sometimes We Need a Reminder

Mom, I am trying.  I really am.  I am doing everything we have talked about. 
 I am doing my best!

I know, bud . . . 

I had thought Elliot's sleep problems were behind us.  I felt like we had finally conquered one hurdle along our journey with NLD, but that was not the case.  Sleeplessness has reared it's ugly head once again, and I fear it may just win.  Each day, we look at what we have done, what still needs to be changed, and try to make improvements.  Last night's improvement was placing Elliot's mattress on the floor.  During our "Worry Time" session, fifteen minutes in our day that is allotted for Elliot to express his worries and then, for the rest of the day, no longer "feed them" by talking about them or thinking about them and placing them in a figurative strong box with a GINORMOUS lock, Elliot shared with me that he was worried he would fall out of bed.  Sounds silly, right?  But hearing him say this reminded me that in one of our many books on NLD, it mentioned that most kids with this disorder/disability (whatever you want to call it) sleep on the floor because of this very fear.  


Problem solved!

Or at least I thought so . . .

I am quickly learning that there is not just one answer to this puzzle called NLD.  There a million pieces, and each day it seems I find a new one.  

With his bed on the floor, his red light on, stories read, and prayers said, Elliot fell asleep.  But, at 2am when I awoke to see the outline of his body in our doorway and his tired, little voice say:  I tried mom.  I really tried, I felt defeated.  We invited him into our bed, where he apologetically nuzzled in between us and went over everything he had tried to do on his own to get back to sleep.  Eventually his "bellyache" subsided and he did fall asleep.

When I woke up this morning, I was tired and discouraged.  I started beating myself up again for missing something, for not conquering this hurdle yet.

And then one of my bestest friends sent me this note:

I can only imagine what was said when he [Elliot] got his call to come to earth . . ."My son, in your life you will have great trials, but I will give you a mother who will make your path her own . . . she will love you, bring you the gospel, she will make your journey infinitely easier . . . your life will be blessed".*

My heart leapt, my tears flowed, and my hope was restored.  I know this is true!!

I recalled that tiny voice last night assuring me he had done everything he could, and promised myself to never give up.  If Elliot can give 100%, then I can not give any less. No matter how hard it is, or how hard it becomes, or how many times I fall down, I will NEVER give up on him!

Thank you, Anita! I really needed this reminder today.

Being a mom may not be the most glamorous job in the world, or the most rewarding, but it is definitely the most important, and it is a job I love with all of my heart.

Elliot getting some much needed rest, while listening to "The Alchemyst"  by Michael Scott, thanks to

 *(We Latter Day Saints believe our journey in life started as spiritual beings long before we came to earth.  If you believe this too, or are interested in finding out more, please check out

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

A Not-So Cheap Night

This week as I was making up our schedule, I noticed that the kids and I had THREE . . . can you believe it? . . . THREE weekday evenings off!

This is nothing short of a miracle, folks.

I was elated!

So, yesterday, after I dropped the kids off at their piano lessons, and after witnessing the foul mood my baby girl was in (yes it is rare, but she does have bad days like the rest of us), I decided to treat us all and buy tickets to the movies.

As I scrolled through the list of movies now playing on my Iphone, I saw "The Pirates" was playing, which I knew ALL of my kidlets wanted to see.  It was like this night was just meant to be.  And to top it all off, it was "cheap night"!  I love Tuesdays!

I even managed to coax Mr. Level-Headed away from his studies for the evening so he could join us (his BIG CMA exam is in June). 

Could this night get any better?!

Well, unfortunately, it didn't . . . tee hee!

The movie was not as laugh-out-loud as the kids had hoped.

The movie was in 3D, which meant my "cheap" tickets were not so cheap.
(But I have to admit the 3D effects were really good and I don't usually like 3D)

The first trailer was for a movie called "FrankenWeenie", a movie about a little boy who brings his dog back to life AND looks like a monster afterwards (dead dog + monster = one very anxious boy, who did not fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning and who needed his mom to "not sleep" with him).

 But . . . 

in spite of all these less-than great points, we still had a fabulous time.  We got to wear crazy glasses, drink copious amounts of carbonated beverages, eat ginormous bags of popcorn, and giggle at the word "weenie" . . . boys . . . sheesh!

In all honesty, it wouldn't matter what we did, or how it ended up, just getting to share a mid-week break with my four favourite people in the world was pretty spectacular.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Zzzzzzz . . . .

Ahhh . . . sleep.  Glorious sleep!

It's hard to believe, but there is a person in there somewhere.
I am so pleased to announce that Shenanigans Inc is sleeping once again.  That's right; a full eight hours for mama and ten for the wee ones.

What a difference a full night of sleep can make on a weary soul!

I am no longer wandering around like a zombie, unable to complete my sentences or finish a thought.  And Elliot?  He is like a dream come true.  His anxiety has reduced, he is working hard, and he is smiling.  And there is nothing I love more than his sweet smile.

So, how did we get back to here?

Well, I found the hints Elliot's doctor gave us for overcoming sleep problems, and we got to work.  We removed the Lego table from his bedroom because toys stimulate children and make it difficult for some of them to sleep.  The Lego table was put in his room just a couple of days before our trip, and was making it difficult for him to relax.  Who could relax when you know an epic battle of gargantuan proportions could erupt at any time (or anywhere . . . even at Nanny's dinner table)?

Since Elliot is terrified of the dark, he needs to sleep with the bathroom light on, but as I learned all those nights I spent sleeping with him in his bed, that light is bright and very difficult to fall into a deep sleep with.  So, we bought him a red light because it does not inhibit the production of melatonin like white lights.

And last but not least, I started waking him up everyday at 7:30am EVEN if he does get much sleep the night before.  I always thought a regular bedtime routine with a set time to go to bed was the key to a good night sleep, but even more important than that, is a regular wake up time.  Who knew?!  I was actually creating a bigger problem by letting him sleep in the morning after he was up all night.  Well, it only took two nights and Elliot was sound asleep and back into his routine.

Halleluhah! It has made such a tremendous difference in our home!

We are working hard:

Playing hard:

Elliot was in the net for one of his soccer games and got kicked in the upper arm with a cleat as he was going down to grab the ball.  Eeek!  The four Websters had planned to "trick" me by telling me his arm was broken just so they could see me swoon and vomit all over myself (I have a small phobia of broken bones).  Nice, eh?  Luckily, Avery spilled the beans . . . I love that kid!

(and cheering hard for Zoe, whose team by the way won five out of their six volley ball games yesterday . . . woohoo!)

Krista's Estethician services have started up again:

That Zoe is soooo spoiled!

Our fridge is stocked, the meal plan is made, and we bid farewell to take-out and frozen chicken strips (our supper time staples when mama is a zombie)

And, best of all, our home is filled with smiles and laughter once again.

Hooray, for sleep!