My Beamish Brood

My Beamish Brood

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Word from Audrey

Hey guys it's me! Guess what?

 I'm super cute, and I know it.

 I just decided that I love the camera, and guess who loves that?? Mommy does!

So I'm sure you'll be seeing a lot more of me in the weeks to come... Mom just can't seem to put down that camera.

You don't mind, do you?

A Pirate's Life for Me

Last Wednesday was International Talk Like a Pirate day, so I decided it was a good time to kick off our second unit study: Pirates! We heard that if you dressed up like a pirate, Krispy Kreme donuts would give you a free dozen... sad to say, the nearest Krispy Kreme was over 200 miles away. But we made the best of   it and took Uncle Ben to our favorite donut shop in full costume anyways! Ben even wore his "Pirate Boots", to the delight of Max. When we got to the donut shop, the owners were excited to see two little pirates come into their store! We even got a few extra donut holes along with our purchase for the buccaneers... so I guess pirate costumes can get you free donuts anywhere!

Our first day of pirate school, we learned about five famous pirates- and Max drew portraits of each that now decorate our living room wall. But that's about as far into real pirate history that we're going to go... much of pirate lore is not exactly preschool-appropriate. Instead, we're focusing on maps, ships, oceans, precious gems... anything remotely related to the pirates that Max knows and loves.

First on the list, pirate FOOD! We found recipes for hard tack and grog (don't worry, we left out the rum), and we cooked and ate them to see what meals would be like on a ship. I was thanking my lucky stars that I don't have to eat that stuff every day, but when I asked Max, he was ready to board the next ship he saw!

In case you want to give it a try, here are the recipes we used:

Hard Tack

2 c flour
2 T salt
approx. 1 c water

Mix flour and salt
Add water gradually until dough stays together but is not sticky
Roll out dough on floured surface, form into a rectangle
Cut dough into squares, place on ungreased baking sheet
Poke 4 rows of 4 holes on each square
Bake at 350 for 1 hour, flipping the biscuits after 30 minutes

Grog (the real stuff!)

3 measures hot water
(1 measure rum)*
1/2 lemon or lime
3 scoops sugar

*We obviously skipped the rum, opting to soak a tea bag in the hot water to give it a little flavor. 

Squeeze 1/2 lime into hot water, mix in sugar and stir until dissolved

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A is for Artery

It's official: we have started homeschooling, and so far we love it! I let Max choose his first area of study, and he decided on the human body. Oh great, I thought, we start out with biology- my least favorite subject in my entire school career. But already it has turned out to be a blessing. The internet is chock full of activity ideas for introducing the body systems to preschoolers, and in doing my own research I have totally had my interest piqued! Did you know it takes at least 19 hours for your food to digest? Did you know that the sound of your heartbeat is actually the valves of your heart slamming shut after the blood goes through? Ok, maybe you already knew those things... but they were news to me! I guess maybe I need to learn science at a preschool level in order to really get into it.

But this is all beside the point. We have begun following a schedule each morning, and I include between 30-60 minutes of structured "school" activities. In the beginning I thought I would be lucky to hold his interest for a quarter of an hour, but on the first day of school, Max kept asking for more. We ended up learning about the human body together for almost three hours that morning! We've made pasta skeletons, a water balloon heart, a Max-sized body outline complete with labeled organs, even a model of the digestive system. We had to make it twice because Max though it was so cool... I just thought it was disgusting. I throw in counting, writing, patterns, and other basics as they come up, but his real interest lies in the nitty-gritty details of the body's inner workings.

I don't have many specific learning goals for Max this year; I want him to continue increasing his comfort with letter sounds and simple counting, but beyond that we are simply having fun. He is interested in so many things, I know we will never want for new subject material. He has already mentioned as future unit studies: pirates and seas, outer space, ancient Egypt, the ocean and underwater exploration, saints, knights and castles, famous artists... the list goes on and on. I believe that my main goal this year is to follow his lead and give him exposure to whatever interests him. Maybe later we'll get more structured... and maybe we won't! As long as he stays this excited about learning new things, I have no worries about the direction we're going.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fishing at the Pit

I love that I come from a young family. All four of my grandparents are still living - and very active! - as well as one great-grandmother. Our children are blessed with six grandmothers and five grandfathers, and they are growing up thinking that is perfectly normal! Last weekend we visited my Mom's parents in southwestern MN, so my grandpa could take Max fishing at "The Pit", his favorite place on Earth- a little fishing hole tucked away off of a gravel road, completely private, total paradise! I honestly don't know who had more fun, the boys, my grandpa or Paul. He came away with a three-foot Northern, which is now cleaned and in our freezer, waiting to be eaten. Anybody know how to cook Northern?

Max and Lucian both caught fish, but their highlight might have been the huge sand pile near the shore of the pond. Max got to use a full-sized shovel to "help" Grandpa move sand to the shore to make a beach! My Grandma and I brought Audrey out to join the boys for a lunch of hot dogs roasted over the fire. And of course we had to follow it up with roasted marshmallows. I'm just not thinking about the amount of sugar the kids ate while we were there... if I don't think about it, it doesn't count. Right? 

Speaking of sugar, my grandma concocted a grand dessert plan after dinner one night: cookie pizza! Refrigerated cookie dough spread out on a baking sheet, decorated with all kinds of sweets. One bite was enough to send me over the moon! The boys were in HEAVEN.

We left Sunday after Mass and a pancake brunch (I think I may have discovered the perfect pancake... but I haven't tried to replicate it yet). The kids were great travelers, and we arrived home to be greeted by .... dinner cooking on the stove and a spotless living room! Megan knew we were getting in about 5:00 and had spaghetti waiting for us. If only we could always come home to a clean living room and dinner waiting, I'd leave every weekend! Thanks Megan!

The boys are looking forward to their next trip to the Pit, and I think Paul is making plans already! It was a fun weekend, Grandma and Grandpa, thanks for putting up with the chaos that is our family!

Play-doh with Grandpa
Audrey loves Grandma!
This fish is bigger than me!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New Beginnings

This Labor Day was a little different than any before it: we were celebrating the start of the SCHOOL YEAR! We made the decision to home-school Max for preschool, and our first day of teaching was today. To mark the new beginning, we turned Labor Day into a big back-to-school bash! From the moment they woke up until the moment they went to bed, we were in full fiesta mode. We started with waffles for breakfast, new school supplies, and school pictures. (I got the crown idea here, it made the kids feel pretty special!) 

After breakfast and pictures, we went down to Grandma and Grandpa's for lunch and a swim. Max got some new goggles and really enjoyed the whole new underwater world that they revealed to him. The kids' great-grandparents were there to celebrate with us and dine on my mom's delicious pulled-turkey sandwiches... and to finally catch Audrey smiling! Every day the smiles are coming more and more easily- I love it.

After swimming, we took a trip to Old Chicago with Megan, Grandma and Grandpa for some delicious pizza. We got each of the boys a book as a gift to start off the school year, and I'm hoping to make it a yearly tradition. We were seated outside on the patio, so when the boys were done eating, they were free to roam while we relaxed and conversed.


For now, I will just say that our first day of school was a resounding success, and I think we kicked it off in style!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Road Trippin', Part 2

After a night in the campin' tent
Our road trip continued west to the Black Hills, to Grandma and Grandpa, Uncles Patrick and Liam, and many many deeply-missed friends. Our visit started off with a bang and refused to slow down for a full week! We were exhausted by the end of it (Maureen, I hope you have recovered by Christmas for the BIG invasion!) but I wouldn't have changed it for the world.

The boys have reached the age where they can really enjoy the fun attractions Rapid City has to offer, and I think we hit nearly every one of them!.... well, at least the free ones. We made it to town for dinner on Sunday, and decided not to waste any time before visiting the big green Brontosaurus at Dinosaur Park. The boys climbed on the dinosaurs and explored the area until the idea of ice cream was mentioned, and off to Armadillos we went. What a surprise when we walked in the door and our good friends the Trasks were there! We did a little catching up and then made plans for Tuesday, then went home to rest up for a busy day the next day.

Monday began with a trip to Storybook Island, a free story-themed playland. If ever you take a child to Rapid City, SD, this is not to be missed! Hours and hours of fun for not even a dime- how can it get any better? They even had a Treasure Island pirate ship. Max couldn't contain his excitement, flitting from one place to another as if his feet were on fire- the castle to the fire truck to the pirate ship to Pooh's house and back to the pirate ship... it felt like he barely had a chance to glance at everything before it was lunch time. We ate sandwiches on the picnic tables outside the park and then went on to our next destination, the brand new Outdoor Campus by the Games Fish and Parks department. Oh. My. Goodness. I loved this place! Just to give you an idea, there were real animal skulls and a mud kitchen. A mud kitchen! Genius.

As if we didn't start out at a full sprint, we decided to pack a whole week's worth of fun into Tuesday. It was Max's feast day, and we wanted to make it a day to remember. We started with a visit to the "Old West" at Ft. Hayes (99 cent pancakes, corn husking, rope making, awesome.) and then snuck in a nap before checking out the City Center Fountains. The boys enjoyed splashing and playing until we mentioned the idea of cooling off with some... you guessed it... ice cream! And they were out of the water like a flash.

Tuesday evening deserves a post all to itself, but since I was a dunce and never once took out my camera, I will fit it in here. A whole slew of our favorite people from Rapid came over to celebrate the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, including another Max! Altogether, there were eleven kids at the Yantes home, but amazingly we had plenty of time to chat with our friends because Uncle Liam took it upon himself to organize  a water fight and a movie with all the kids!! He deserves to be knighted.

The rest of the week slowed down a little: we went to one of Patrick's soccer games, we went back to Storybook Island with Bridget and the kids, and Bridget and I got to have a coffee date like old times- just us and one baby. Talk about "back in the day"! Then on Thursday, the boys went camping. Even with the fire ban, they LOVED it. Max's highlight was the hiking and exploring, but Lucian couldn't say enough about the "campin' tent!" Maureen and I brought out KFC for dinner, since they couldn't cook over a fire. Then we went home and had a girls' night in, watched a silly chick flick that I really can't recommend, and ate fudge from Keystone that I definitely can.

Friday brought a wedding reception for Sam and Joan, our friends who got married in June (beautiful wedding, beautiful couple!!) and who wanted to celebrate with their friends and family in the Black Hills. It was held at Sam's parents' gorgeous home, and we got to catch up with some good friends we hadn't seen in quite some time. Then on Saturday, we got to celebrate with more old friends at Laura and Eric's wedding! Max and Louie stayed home with Patrick and Liam (I know... I was nervous too. Just kidding, the uncles did a great job!) and Audrey came with us. The couple was so joyful, I loved being there to share the day with them! With a baby in tow, we didn't get in as much dancing as I would have liked... but Paul was probably perfectly happy with that. Congratulations, Laura and Eric!

Sunday we went to a Mass celebrated by Fr. Sparks and then took our time packing up to head home. We finally got out the door close to 3:00, with a long, late drive ahead of us. But the kids did great in the car, and when we finally pulled into the garage in the wee hours of the morning, we were all ready to fall into bed!

All in all, I'd say Audrey's first road trip was a success! We had a blast, and the boys are already looking forward to going back again.

Storybook Island

Grandma and the boys inside a whale!
Hot chocolate
Sound asleep in sleeping bags

Big fish!
Audrey fell in love with Patrick
Brothers! (How could you tell?)