My Beamish Brood

My Beamish Brood

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Two Crazy, Two Cute

Well I just have to say, it's a good thing they make toddlers cute! Blaise has kept me running since the day he was born. I get exhausted just thinking about the distance he covers each day, even if he doesn't leave the house! He is into everything, climbs on everything, escapes from everything, and he does it all with a huge smile on his face. He is the joy of his siblings' lives, and he feels the same. Most mornings, Blaise is the first one awake. As his brothers and sisters wander down the stairs one at a time, they are each greeted with an enthusiastic squeal... and often a tackle. The same goes for his Daddy... when Paul gets home from work, you'd think it was Christmas the way Blaise trips over himself to get to the door. He sure makes us all feel loved!

These past two years have brought a lot of growth in motherhood as I juggle the needs of older kids who just keep getting older with little ones who just want MOM. I still haven't figured out any magic formula, but I wouldn't trade the craziness for the world! Sibling relationships bring their challenges, but I know that my kids will never wonder if they are loved. On the days that my patience has run out and I snap a little louder than I wanted to, they can always turn to their sweet brother for a snuggle or a smack in the face... his two favorite ways of showing affection.

I will not be a bit surprised if Blaise ends up being an extreme sports fan when he grows up. Every drive we take, he points out (actually, shouts out) each motorcycle, big truck, and brightly painted car that we pass. The louder and faster, the better. His goal in life is to ride his big wheeler as far down the street as he can before I catch him. Once he made it to the end of the block, and I didn't see him slowing down at all as I ran to catch him! I honestly don't know how far he'd go! Monica and Glenn, if you open your door one day to find him on your doorstep, don't be surprised.

He thinks helmets are the coolest thing since sliced bread... literally. He loves bread. I once found him in our bread drawer eating whole slices plain. But helmets are even better! He has been known to steal helmets from unsuspecting kids who biked to soccer practice. Thankfully, he has always returned them... so far.

But for as much as he is on the go, he still loves to snuggle in my arms with his paci and blankie at bedtime. He has amazingly turned into a great sleeper, a huge 180 from his first year of life! I have been getting full nights of sleep for over six months now and it. is. amazing. And necessary... oh man, he hits the ground running every morning!

Blaiser, Blaisius, Blaisey, you are the joy of my heart. I hope you never lose your enthusiasm for life!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Cabin Life

Have you ever had an experience that felt too good to be true? This summer has give me a taste of that, since my parents purchased a cabin on a lake in Wisconsin. I keep pinching myself. Can we really get away with our family whenever we want? It has been unbelievably fun and amazingly peaceful, and this is just the beginning of a lifetime of memories to come!

If I could name one downside of living near my family, it would be that we don't do overnights like we did when we lived far away. Since they live only minutes away, there is no reason for us to sleep over when we visit. And the vast majority of our time together is with the kids around, so we don't get to spend much adult time alone. But the cabin changes all of that! When we go, we go for a weekend. We settle in and relax and just enjoy each other's company. We can stay up late drinking wine and playing games long after the kids are in bed. 

The highlight for my kids is definitely the extra time spent with their cousins! When we were able to visit at the same time, the kids spent hours splashing and digging and coloring and enjoying each other. They have come up with a host of games that keep them busy for hours while we relax (or chase Blaise around, depending on his mood). Edith and Sammy have become inseparable water buddies, having conversations about secret things that none of us can understand. I love watching all of their bonds deepen as they spend this time together!


The cabin has even allowed us to spend more time with extended family. Both of my sets of grandparents have made a point to come up as often as they can, and my kids have spent hours chatting and reading with their GREAT grandparents. How many kids can say that??

I have gotten packing for the cabin down to an art already. When Paul gets off work on a Friday, we can turn around and make it to the cabin in time for a late dinner! It has been an amazing blessing for our family already, and I can't wait to see what the future brings!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Family Photos 2017

I don't know why it took me until three years ago to start getting our family's photos professionally taken, but if I had known how much joy it would bring me, I would have started long before! My dear friend Jess, owner of Jessica Shurts Photography, is an unbelievably talented photographer who seems able to effortlessly capture the personality of our family every time she lifts her camera. When I take photos of my children, I don't feel like they ever do justice to how I see my children when I look at them. But when I look at these pictures, I see my children with all of the silliness, enthusiasm, and joy that I want to remember about them when they are grown. (And Paul and I look o.k. too, I might add...)

I have nothing much to say about these pictures, except that they make my heart so happy to look at, I just couldn't wait until Christmas to share them with all of you! 

(and also, just look at Blaise's expression in every photo. I dare you not to laugh out loud!)


Monday, November 6, 2017

School Snapshot

As promised, perhaps more for my sake than for yours, I am back to give you a snapshot of an average school day in our little one-room school house. We are into November now, so I can say with some confidence that I have finally stumbled upon the recipe for success in our homeschool days, at least as far as consistency is concerned. I'll be honest, there are some years where I was much more creative with my lesson planning (ahem, threekidsago, cough, cough) but I have never managed to hold to a schedule as well as I have so far this year. 

When I say the word "schedule", I mean it in the loosest possible sense. There is very little that happens at an allotted time during our days, but I have learned to take activities that need to get done and pin them to something that will always happen no matter what. And that usually means food. So this year, our days look something like this:

6:00 Mom awake, morning prayers, drink coffee by myself
6:30-7:30 Everyone else wakes up slowly, eats a bowl of cereal or lays on the couch reading. Their only task is to get dressed by 8:30.
8:30 Real breakfast is served (YES I'm cooking breakfast every day! This is new!)
   Monday is oatmeal
   Tuesday is pancakes
   Wednesday is eggs
   Thursday is cereal (we have a church class in the morning so we need to get out the door)
   Friday is yogurt and granola
9:00 I play our school song (This year it is Multiplied by needtobreathe- just try listening to this song without dancing!) while we clean up the school table from all of the mad crafting that inevitably went on the day before. I've found that I just can't make sure the school table is clean at the end of the day, so I've enlisted the kids to do it for me! I mean, with me... hey, it was their mess anyways!
   Then we begin with prayer, followed by our subjects that everyone learns together (history or science). Then the girls are excused... but they don't usually leave... and we do some math or English. 

It is unbelievable how much has changed in my motivation to do school each day, simply by making sure breakfast is served at 8:30 (or, let's be honest, 8:45 or even 9:00) and then we transition directly to school from the breakfast table. The kids don't have time to get engrossed in other activities, I don't have time to get distracted by dishes or laundry; we drop everything and go to school! Just like normal people! 

After this, the kids are free to do what they want until lunch time. Sometimes I serve a snack, sometimes I read a story, sometimes the kids scatter instantly to every corner of the house. I call them back around noon for lunch, which I usually eat while I'm preparing it. We all sit down at the table and if Blaise is in a good mood, I read a chapter from our current Boys Book Club book while they eat. If it doesn't work out at lunch, I read it during afternoon snack. 

After lunch, I have my ideal schedule and my actual schedule. Ideally, one of the kids would read a story to Edith while I clean up lunch, then I would put her and Blaise to bed and the rest of us would have D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read) time for about 20 minutes. This has happened in reality about twice. Children are notoriously bad at following my plans for their nap schedule, believe it or not. When it does work out, it's dreamy. But when it doesn't, we roll with it.

Following D.E.A.R. time... or C.T.K.W.E.E.D.W.T.W. Time (That's "Clean The Kitchen While Everyone Else Does What They Want" Time), the three big kids usually do our afternoon assignment lists. The trick to making assignments more palatable is to either A. Have a child like Audrey who would like nothing better than to practice her handwriting and math all afternoon or B. Put something they enjoy (i.e. something on the computer) at the end of the list. 

Max's current list looks like this:

-Math Worksheet
-Handwriting Worksheet
-Read 1 Chapter of assigned book, find one word you don't know
-Practice Taekwondo
-Practice Piano
-Duolingo (online Spanish class)

Lucian's list:

-Math Worksheet
-Handwriting Worksheet
-Grammar Lesson
-Read 1 Chapter of assigned book
-Practice Taekwondo
-Practice Piano
-Typing Lessons 

Audrey's list:

-Handwriting Worksheet
-Reading Lesson
-Math Worksheet (sometimes)
-Practice Piano
-Starfall Phonics (online)

Once their lists are completed, they are free to do whatever they like for the rest of the afternoon. Often we have afternoon snack and storytime together, sometimes we play board games together, occasionally we do an art project, but most days the kids entertain themselves with all sorts of creative pursuits that don't take any guidance from me. 

We have dinner when their Daddy gets home, and then the kids have chores to complete before they are free to do what they want after dinner. We usually start winding down around 7:30 with prayers and stories, and then on a normal day the kids are in bed by 8:00. 

Looking at our daily schedule all laid out like this, it actually looks like we accomplish a lot each day! One of my biggest fears as a homeschooling mom is that I am going to fail my kids by not teaching them what they need to know. While other kids go to school for 7 hours a day, we never "do school" for more than three hours, four days a week. But we accomplish a lot in a little time, and we make a point to make learning a way of life. It might not always look like school, but those little brains are growing all the time. I can't wait to see what they become some day!

Late night flash cards with Dad

Audrey loves choosing the letter of the day!

Making apple pancakes... while Edith falls asleep at the table 
Learning doesn't have to happen in a classroom

Sometimes we light things on fire in school...

Learning from a sibling

Lucian is very self motivated in his piano practicing

Outdoor D.E.A.R. Time with the neighbor girls

Our Book Nook

And yes, we do schoolwork at the table sometimes