Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Sure Signs of Spring

Even though I woke up this morning to a light dusting of snow all over my lawn and flurries flying by my bedroom window, I have decided that, gosh darn, it is spring! With only four more sleeps until Easter, I have grown tired of winter and in spite of Mother Natures' unrelenting hold on this frosty season, I am pushing winter out the door and giving it a little kick for good measure.

Hit the road, Winter, and don't you come back no more, no more, no more, no more.

First, I decided to finally remove the once beautiful snowflakes that were hanging in our window.

So much better. Especially since the view includes our recently thawed out river in the background. Hello spring!

Then, the other day as the boys and I were leaving the grocery store, we noticed an elderly gentlemen selling daffodils for the Cancer Society.  This year we have had three very dear people to us diagnosed with cancer; therefore, we stopped and purchased some. Not to mention, I LOVE daffodils and for me, nothing says spring like blossoming daffodils.

Aren't they spectacular!

Now, although I am excited to roll in spring, I have to admit that I do not condone the next practise, but Avery was adamant that it is time and so I let him go for it. Yep, Avery decided that for his inaugural bike ride of the season, pants would not do and that he needed to be sporting shorts.  This kid is clearly crazy!

And, finally, last night as we made our way home from Zoe's volleyball game, which they won hands down, we opted not to get our favourite winter treat, a steamy cup of hot chocolate, and instead went straight to the DQ for blizzards.  They never disappoint!

Okay, so if  you are still doubting my powers of persuasion and their influence on the seasons, and you remain unconvinced that spring is just around the corner, then have no fear because I have undeniable proof that spring is in fact finally here.

Ta da!

Yes, this is none other than Scouty's most favourite Pooh Bear, who has just recently reappeared from his icy prison in the backyard. How can you argue with that face?


tee hee!

Happy spring!

Oh, and since today is the last day of school before the Easter break, I will not be checking back in here until next Tuesday.  Have a great Easter!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

An Easter Idea

If you are anything like me, you are in complete and utter shock that Easter is only five more sleeps away . . . craziness!  How did that happen?  

I woke up Monday morning determined to get things done for the upcoming holiday. My mom has planned the menu for our annual Easter buffet; so all that is left for me to do is to pick up the ingredients I need for the recipes I am responsible for. Easy cheesy! I made my grocery list and then I made a list of the supplies the Easter bunny will need for his annual Easter egg hunt and scavenger hunt. Outside of Christmas, I am really not a fan of decorating because it requires three things from me: money, time, and ideas, none of which I ever seem to have enough of. So, Easter decorations are kept to a minimal in our house: a few candy dishes my mom bought for me over the years and a basket of coloured eggs. Perfect!

Since, Easter also has a spiritual side . . . what? If you have no idea what I am talking about, perhaps you should read thisMr. Level-Headed and I have been reading twenty verses each night to the kids from Matthew 26.  This is my favourite scriptural account of the days leading up to the Savior's crucifixion and after he rose from the dead because it is the one account that says the first person Jesus appeared to was Mary of Magdalene. It is such a touching reunion! This has been going really well, but I never feel overly confident about how much the kids are actually taking in during our scripture study because they are often too busy kicking one another, snoozing, or making faces.  Yesterday, though, as I checked in on a couple of my favourite bloggers, I came across this great idea from 71 Toes to help kids better understand all that went on during the days leading up to Easter. It is a fabulous idea and a very easy one to do; so I got to work.

First, I copied a brief synopsis of what the Savior did each day from this link.  It is a great site and it even comes with the scriptures that reference each day.

Then, I cut them out.

Next, I found some card stock and cut them in half.  At 71 Toes, she used bright yellow card stock and kept them full length, and I really liked how this looked in her kitchen, but since I did not have any yellow card stock left and my kitchen cabinet doors are not so plenty or large enough to house 9 sheets, I improvised. You have to do what works for you.

Then, I wrote each day of the week at the top of the card stock in black marker starting with two Saturdays before Easter. This gives you a total of 9 sheets. I also spruced each of my sheets up with a butterfly cut-out. Springy but not biblical; that's okay.

Next, (this was my favourite part) I pulled out my laminator and started laminating my sheets. There is nothing better than laminated projects hot off the press . . .  I am such a geek!

Then, since my kitchen is quite tiny and since we do our scripture study in the living room, I decided to rearrange a couple of the pictures I have hanging up to create this display on the main wall. Isn't it awesome!

Finally, I made a little envelope to carry all the strips and hung it up beside the display.

That evening, as we all gathered around to do our evening scripture study, the kids each pulled out a slip of paper outlining what the Savior did on days Saturday, Sunday, and Monday  (we had a little catch up to do). Then we read them and hung them up on the time line.

My hope is that with this display centred in our home and with an evening reminder of what this Holy Week is all about, my kids will not only focus on the Easter  bunny and his delightful  chocolate eggs this year, but that they will gain greater insight into the life and ministry of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Here's hoping!

Monday, 25 March 2013

Party Season

Let the birthday season commence!

If you thought January was busy in our house for birthdays, then you haven't seen our spring.  Basically, if you are not born in December or January (mom, Zoe, myself, and Avery), then your birthday falls between Mar. 24 and May 19. It starts off with Papa Skov, quickly followed by Emily, then John, then Hilary, then Mr. Level-Headed, and finally, Elliot. Phew! Throw Easter somewhere in the mix, and you've got yourself one crazy, wild party season. To celebrate each birthday, everyone gathers at my house for dinner and birthday cake. It is always way too loud and we always eat way too much food. I love my family!

On Monday, the boys and I went to get groceries. As soon as they saw me put bottles of pop in the cart, they got excited because they know that if mama buys pop, it can only mean one thing: party time!  Every morning, Avery would stumble in my room, half-awake, and ask:

Is the party today?

My kids love our family get-togethers.

Not today, Avery. It is on Sunday.

When Sunday finally came, the kids were ecstatic. The pizzas were baking, the pop was chilling, and they were buzzing.

When are the coming?

Are they here?

There they are  . . . just kidding!

There's John and Tiffany's car . . . just kidding!

There's Grampy and Grammie . . . just kidding!

Yes, this is Elliot's latest and most annoying trick to play on us. He fails to realise that the more he does it, the less we fall for it, but nonetheless, he thinks it is comedic gold. Therefore, he does it over and over and over and over again. What a kid!

This year, for the first time, we skyped with my sister Hilary who lives in Halifax. It was hilarious! Five skov's and three Websters vying for the best position to see Hilary and to be heard. We are not known for our social graces. In the end, albeit probably very overwhelming for my sister, it was a huge success and will probably become just as much a party staple as the pop, the cake, and the teasing. Especially, since Emily, my youngest sister, is off to UBC in the fall to get her Masters degree in Creative Writing . . . woohoo!

All in all, I would have to say that Papa Skov's 60th birthday was a hit. For Elliot, though, this birthday was a tremendous success. You have to understand that although Elliot gets excited for our parties, he also finds them very overwhelming and typically retreats to the basement for the entire time. Recently, he is not so quick to escape and he often sits down and eats with everyone. Well, I say eat, but in all honesty, he more like picks at his food, but we have to start somewhere. After dinner, while we were all gathered around the table carrying on at least two different conversations, Elliot pulled out his Ipod and played with one of his apps. He took a picture of Grampy's car, did something with the app, and made a short video of Grampy's car being crushed by a gigantic boulder barrelling from the sky. He was quite pleased with his work and showed everyone. Much to his surprise, everyone laughed and asked to see it again. Elliot's face beamed and he did as he was asked. Then he went on to make more videos. The most popular one being a video of Grampy's head exploding. He titled that one: What Happens When You Get Grampy Angry. Of course, we laughed and laughed. Trust me, if you grew up in the Skov household, you would too.

After everyone left, Elliot came up behind me and gave me a big squeeze.

Did you have fun tonight, Bud?

Yep. Did you notice that I made everyone laugh tonight?

Yes, I did. Everyone really liked your videos. They were very cool.

This was the first time I have ever made them laugh.

Really? I think you have made them laugh before.

Nope. This was the first time.

Well, congratulations! You are becoming a Skov.

I don't know about that; I made them laugh, but I don't think I will ever get their jokes.

 . . . tee hee!

Yes, Bud. Most people don't.

Happy Birthday Papa Skov!

Same time, same place, same jokes next weekend? 

Oh, and if you missed it on Saturday night, my second article was published with Please read it hereThen like it and share it with the Facebook tab at the top. If you are on Pinterest, you can pin it. If you are twitter, you can tweet it.  Or you can do all three. Easy cheesy!  Thanks everyone.

Friday, 22 March 2013


It's Friday! Can you believe it? I don't know where the week went. I am not sad to see it go, though. This week I was not on my game. It just seemed like I never was able to get up on that ball. Instead, I was just dragged behind it. I hate when that happens.

I don't know why it was such an off week. I started Monday morning with my usual weekly planning, but it never seem to take off from there as it usually does. In fact, I didn't even stick to the meal plan I made, and we didn't make it to all of our scheduled events . . . eeeek!  But, there were no fatalities. The house, albeit in total disarray, is still standing and we are all smiling. So I guess, in the grand scheme of things, you could say this week was a success. Let's, okay?

And since this week was a success, but not really and we're just going with that to make me feel better, I have run out of ideas to write about. I have used up all of my funny stories, my cute kid moments, and my rants about education. I don't even have any grand ideas in the works. 

Did you hear that? No? I could have sworn I just heard Mr. Level-Headed let out a giant sigh of relief . . . tee hee!

And so I am left sharing a few random photos of a few random moments that brought a smile to my face this week.

^^Before the return of winter on Wednesday, the boys got in a game of baseball.^^

^^Avery woke up at 5 am the other morning and was feeling inspired.^^

^^In spite of all the snow we got, it still feels like spring out there. The river is almost thawed, the air smells fresh and damp, and the sun, oh that glorious yellow orb in the sky, has returned and is finally warming up my innards. Hallelujah! ^^

^^Elliot made a very yummy dessert the other day: banana slices, chocolate syrup, and sprinkles. Lots of sprinkles!^^

^^Avery was a huge fan!^^

Baby Girl sent me this text yesterday: "I have good news", and then she does not tell me the good news.  Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh! It was torture. I spent the entire afternoon running through all the possible "good news" scenarios my fifteen year old daughter could tell me:

I ditched school today, and bought the cutest pair of sneakers for only ten dollars . . .

I am NOT pregnant . . .

I tried Crystal Meth and it really isn't my thing . . .

She should know better than to allow my mind to run rampant with possibility.  Anyhoo, when I finally picked her up at school, I asked her very nonchalantly:

Oh, so what was your good news?

I knew I had to play it cool, like I hadn't even given it any thought or else she would relish in this power trip and refuse to dish the dirt.

You know that math competition I signed up to do?


Well, I got the highest mark of all the grade nine students in our school and now I'm going to the district math competition at the university.


It rocks having a nerd for a daughter!

Just kidding, Baby Girl!  Mama loves you.

Yep, it wasn't my most productive week ever and it definitely wasn't my most exciting week, but it happened, I mustered through it, and for the most part, I enjoyed it.

Happy weekend!


Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Difference One Year Makes

Warning: This blog post is not for the faint of heart or the seasonally disgruntled.

Yesterday, was the first day of spring.  One would think that this would mean waking up to sunlight streaming through an open bedroom window and the sweet sound of birds chirping . . . wrong!  Instead we woke up to a dark, cold, blustery morning. The wind howled outside my bedroom window and rather than birds chirping, I heard the grinding sound of the snow plow driving past our house.  The only thing that made this day even remotely bearable was that enough snow had fallen through the night to make the powers that be cancel school . . . woohoo!  Baby Girl came up to our room and made the grand announcement, then we rolled over and fell back to sleep. I love snow days!

Sure, I really should not have been surprised about our first day of spring weather because I live in Canada, and in all honesty, it never really warms up here until at least June, but after last year's tropical temperatures, I guess I was hoping for more.  Tropical temperatures? For those of you don't remember what I am talking about read here or take a stroll through some pictures I took of the boys and I on MARCH 21, 2012.  Oh, and in case you forgot, it was  a whopping 34'C that day!

Here I am sporting a t-shirt, shorts and sunglasses:

Elliot doing a little fishing in our almost thawed out river:

Avery going for a little dip:

Avery doing his male model pose:

A rare photo of the bald eagle that lives in our backyard:

Since it was so warm, we had our first BBQ of the season:

and the boys did their school work out on the deck:


And now, let me present to you MARCH 20, 2013:

No fishing today:

This baby will definitely not be turned on for awhile:

No short and sunglasses needed here:

According to Avery, Mother Nature is throwing one gigantic hissy fit, and I would have to agree.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Peanut Butter and Nutella Sandwiches

On Monday, I wrote about Zoe.  On Tuesday, I wrote about Elliot.  It only seems fair that I devote today's blog post to Avery, and thankfully, he said the cutest thing ever yesterday.

Each morning, Avery pours himself a tall glass of milk and makes himself a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich on whole wheat bread.  Then, just before bed, he does the same thing.

As I walked in on him yesterday morning making his sandwich, I warned him:

You better watch out.  You are going to turn into a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich if you keep this up, and then I will definitely have to eat you up.

I'm not worried, Mom.

Why not?

Because I'm not gluten-free.

What a kid!

 . . . tee hee!

Photo bombed!

Happy spring! 
 (even though it definitely doesn't look like or feel like spring out there)

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The Poet

Last week, he was my philosopher, but this week he is my poet.

The boys and I have a fantastic cursive program that we work on together each day . . . gasp!  She teaches her boys cursive, that ancient and outdated form of writing that our school system has deemed useless?  Yes, that would be the one.  I really shouldn't take a jab at the school system because, in all honesty, I was there.  When I was teaching at Touchstone, the debate on cursive came up, and although I did teach it, I did doubt its benefits, and not because of any grand pedagogical reasoning, but simply on the basis that I felt I was already trying to squeeze too much in, and I fear that this is the reasoning behind our school board's decision too. They are trying to do too much with too little resources and too little time.
Now that I only have the needs of two pupils to look after, however, I feel very strongly that cursive needs to be taught.  For one, how are my boys if they ever grow up to become writers or English professors, be able to read the original manuscripts of the great authors?  If they become historians or archaeologists, how are they ever going to read ancient letters or documents?  When I am long gone, how are they going to read all my journal entries and be able to pass on my story to their grandchildren? Dismissing cursive is so near-sighted.  Yes, it may not be the way of the future, but it was the predominant communication method of the past, and what are we if can not access our past?  
The second and more practical reason I teach cursive is that it is easier for children to do than print and it eliminates reversals made with "b" and "d", which both of my boys are notorious for doing. From an OT perspective (occupational therapist) cursive is physically easier on your hands as well.  So, there you have it: Shenanigans Inc. comes out and takes a stand on the grand cursive debate.  We vote "Yea!"

Anyhoo . . .

So, the program we use is Handwriting Without Tears, and for Elliot's age, his cursive practise is centred upon grammar instruction and creative writing assignments.  I love this because we also have a grammar program  . . . gasp!  Another one of my pet peeves about the school system, but I will save that lengthy treatise for another day.  In short, Elliot gets a quick grammar review each day with his cursive lesson, and I think that is awesome!  This week, one of his cursive lessons discussed poetry and challenged him to write a haiku.  A haiku is an ancient Japanese form of poetry that is comprised of seventeen syllables, follows the pattern of 5, 7, 5, and does not rhyme. You can only imagine the initial distress this brought to Elliot and to me, his poor mama; however, after a bit of thinking time on the floor, he came up with an idea!  He poo-pooed on my suggestions of a winter day, swimming in the pool, or a day at the beach, and chose something he is more familiar with:  Halo  . . . gasp!  Yes, I am one of those terrible mamas who allows her boys to play violent video games.  Trust me, I held out for as long as I could, but they are relentless and I am weak. So embarrassing!

I was shocked at how well he did.  True, his format is more of a 4, 7, 5, which comes out at only 16 syllables, but Elliot found the form too restrictive, and rather than risk sacrificing the artistic integrity of his poem by randomly inserting another syllable, he took a stand and refused. Can you say temperamental artist?

Once again, without further adieu, I present Elliot's poem:


Grunts get blown up,
Grenades go off at their feet.
Then they come after me.

Yep, this boy is proving to be more Skov-Nielsen everyday.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, 18 March 2013

How Quickly We Forget

On Saturday, Zoe's volleyball team played in their first tournament. It was a varsity tournament, but Zoe's team did not have their varsity players there. In fact, their entire team was made up of junior varsity girls, and they did awesome! They went undefeated until the semi-finals, where they lost one game out of three. In the end, they won second place, and although they were disappointed, they were all shocked that they had actually gotten that far.

I was particularly proud of Baby Girl. She is so confident on the court, and I marvel at how calm and level-headed she remains even when things are not going well for her team. She was playing against girls three years older and at least a foot taller, but that didn't intimidate her. She went out on that court and got to work. I was most impressed with the fact that even though Zoe can not do an overhand serve yet, her coaches still encouraged her to try in the game, and she would stand there fearlessly and give it her best shot. She is so close, and I know it won't be long before she is sending that ball clear over the net.  

While Mr. Level-Headed and I were cheering the team on, I kept leaning over to him and saying how proud I am of our girl and how thrilled I am that she is playing high school sports.  Even though she is knee deep in the trenches of teenage-hood and all the drama that surrounds that most difficult time in a person's life, she has managed to remain focused and firmly attached to who she is and what she wants.  Sheesh . . . it took me a good thirty years to get to that point. What a kid!

But it wasn't until later that night, after Zoe returned home from a babysitting gig and was safely tucked in her bed, that the full magnitude of the day hit me. This was the first sporting event that Zoe has played in since she became sick last fall, and it was only three months ago that she was spending up to four hours a day receiving medicine intravenously. She was too weak to go to school or to play sports. She spent day after day watching television on the laptop and napping. I remember watching her play last fall during the soccer season and only noticing how weak she was becoming and fearing that she may be pushing herself too hard.  She could only take quick spurts out on the field, and spent the majority of the time sitting on the bench feeling frustrated and disappointed. It broke my heart.

On Saturday, however, that sick girl was no where in sight, and like I said before, the thought never even crossed my mind. She played hard, she hit hard, and she laughed hard. Baby Girl is back and she is on fire!

Don't you love the socks! Her mama found those in Portland.


Unfortunately, none of my action shots turned out. :(

Here they are clapping for the winning team.  They look so impressed . . . tee hee!

Happy Monday!

Friday, 15 March 2013

We Interrupt This Winter to Bring You Some Sunshine and Warm Temperatures!

Yesterday, after lunch, the boys and I pushed our school books aside and headed outdoors to enjoy the beautiful sunshine and spring-like temperatures.  March, you are such a tease!

First, the boys had to test out the trampoline to make sure the winter didn't damage it.

Next, we walked down to the river to check out the spring thaw.  It is so exciting to see pools of water where there was once only ice.  Oh, and the smells.  Standing on our favourite rock, I couldn't help but take in a deep breath and savour the the fresh, crisp smell of spring. Sometimes I wonder if I even breathe in the winter.

On our way back up the hill, the boys decided to check on the camp they had made in the woods last autumn.

The ground was so mucky!

They were ecstatic to find the teeter totter they had made was still working.  Country kids!

Being the beautiful afternoon that it was, none of us were ready to go in just yet so we grabbed Scout's leash and walked down the road to see what interesting things we could find.  Thanks to all the rain we had on Wednesday, all the nearby waterfalls were overflowing.  They were beautiful, and not to mention, noisy.  At one in particular, we couldn't hear each other talking over the sound of the rushing water.  Even though it was tremendously loud, it felt so peaceful.  Elliot and I didn't want to leave, but poor Avery was having a difficult time restraining Scout from chasing a couple of taunting chipmunks, and so after a little bit we decided to move on.

Our next stop was a local beach.  Since our beach was still pretty iced over, Scouty was unable to play in the water, which is his favourite pastime.  Luckily, this beach was open and he quickly got to work digging up rocks . . . tee hee!  He is such a funny dog.

He would have had a lot more fun if we had taken him off of his leash, but since there was still a few sheets of ice out there and this was right around the same time of year our previous dog, Sport, died after getting caught under the ice, the boys refused to listen to my pleas on Scout' behalf.   Nonetheless, he didn't seem to mind.  Scout is just happy being where ever there is water and his family.

Such a wise puppy.

Happy Friday!