My Beamish Brood

My Beamish Brood

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Everyone tells me that your first and second born children always have the most different personalities. Now, I don't know about my older brother and me - sure we have our differences, but all three of us are pretty much on the same track (Mom, correct me if I'm wrong). But I have seen in play out in other families (Monica and Paul maybe?), and I am currently seeing it play out in our own family. I've noticed it for quite awhile, but never before has it come out in such a visually obvious way as it did tonight while the boys were playing with Duplos. Max was busy at work on his castle, complete with turrets, pillars, a matchbox car, a beast of burden, there were no limits to the possibilities.


Meanwhile, on the other side of the room, Lucian was working just as hard on his creation...


Rectangles. Everything was orderly, every block had its proper place. Lucian is already showing himself to be the polar opposite of his brother. Where Max is footloose and fancy free, Lucian is an organized planner. Max could walk through a room ten times before finding what he is looking for; Lucian will walk right to it. Max would never even notice if the house is a mess; Lucian is a compulsive cleaner.

He even cleaned up our popcorn bowls for us last night during the movie! He stacked them up, carried them downstairs, and set them on the table. I don't know what to do with this child so unlike myself... so unlike anyone else in this house. If he keeps it up, I fear that the rest of his family will drive him up a wall! In the future, I'm envisioning a tape line down the center of the boys' room ("You keep your stuff on that side of the line, Max!") or the living room ("You keep your stuff on that side of the line, Mom!").

I am in awe that we could have created two such unique characters- I would have thought all of our kids would have personality traits from one of us or the other, but thus far it is so not so. It's exciting, and a little terrifying... If Max can be an extrovert and Lucian can be a neat freak, what could Audrey turn out to be??

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Treasure Hunting

My mom called me up Saturday on a whim to see if we wanted to try something new with them... Geocaching! It was a beautiful day, and how could we pass up the chance for a real live treasure hunt?? If you've never heard of geocaching, basically you follow a map on your phone to a spot of your choosing (they are all over the world!) and try to find the "treasure" that is hidden there. It comes in the form of a metal, waterproof box containing trinkets left by previous hunters. You can choose to take a trinket from the box as long as you leave something in return.

So of course Max was all on board with this idea. He took control of the map and lead us toward the coordinates. Once in the general vicinity, we started hunting among the trees until we came across a metal box hidden near a big tree.  With Grandpa's help, Max opened the box and admired the treasures within! He decided to trade a toy helicopter for a dusty little rubber frog that opened into two pieces (one man's trash...)

We followed the map to two more locations, and besides a run-in with a thorn branch, everyone had a great time! The boys enjoyed the exploring as much as the actual hunting, and we got to see areas in our neighborhood that we never would have ventured into otherwise! The boxes were hidden fairly close to walking trails, but there was still some bushwhacking involved.

It was an exciting day. I kind of feel like I stumbled upon a hidden subculture, and I can't believe all of these treasures are hidden almost in our backyard! I'm sure we'll do it again, and who knows? Maybe some day we'll unearth a real treasure.

The aftermath of a thorn branch attack

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Toy Jail

Max's "Train Track Skull"
There's a new sheriff in town, and he's layin' down the law.

We've been getting fed up with our kids' lazy cleaning at the end of the day, and we were having trouble figuring out a good consequence for not picking up their toys. One day, Paul had a stroke of genius and invented "Toy Jail". Every night before bed, the boys have five minutes to clean up all of their toys in the living room. At the end of that time, Paul sweeps the room and picks up anything remaining out of place. These toys are banished to jail until they are earned back by Max or Lucian.

How do they earn a toy back? Well here's the best part! They earn stars on a chart for doing nice things for each other, listening well, and generally being good and helpful kids. When they earn ten stars, they are allowed to rescue a toy. So this gives them incentive to climb in the car a little more quickly, put on their shoes after being asked only once, and maybe try to share their train set with their brother even if they don't really want to. I'm not saying they've changed overnight, but I have noticed that they're maybe just a little bit more aware of the consequences of their actions.

And they sure do clean a lot faster than they used to.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Up North

A couple of weekends ago, my parents invited us on an impromptu overnight on the North Shore. I am so impressed with us- we left less than 24 hours after deciding to go! Who needs planning and foresight? Not us! We left Saturday morning and caravaned with my parents, sending Lucian to ride with Grandma and Grandpa and the Okee Dokee Brothers CD (he's a little obsessed ), while Max opted for the minivan with the DVD player.

Our first stop was the Duluth Train Museum. Not just electric models, this was a museum full of real trains, many of which are open to climb in! Lucian thought he died and went to heaven. The boys climbed from engine to caboose to snow plow to dining car, pressing buttons and pulling levers everywhere they went. And by boys, I'm sure you know I mean all four of them. My dad and Paul were just as into it as the little ones, and in some cases possibly more so.

After the museum, we walked along the pier and out to the lighthouse, and of course the boys got to climb on some rocks. Then we warmed up with a treat before making our way farther North to the cabin where we would be spending the night. My mom made an a-maz-ing carnitas for dinner, a recipe that I am actually stealing and making for dinner tomorrow! Then we settled in, put the boys to bed and played cards.

We spent most of the next day exploring the shore, throwing rocks and hiking around the cove. Yes, there was a real live cove on the grounds of this resort! You can guess how excited Max was to experience his first cove. Sadly, we didn't see any pirate ships anchoring there, but he is thoroughly convinced that once upon a time it was a hot spot for scallywags.

In the afternoon, Paul and I stole away for a bit to play a game of cribbage in the "Fish House", a little hut heated by a wood-burning stove and overlooking the lake. We daydreamed for awhile about living in a place like that, and then I remembered that it had no bathroom. Most modern luxuries I could live without, but I should thank God every day for sewers and running water.

We stayed into the early evening and then drove home, getting back around bedtime. It was an unexpected vacation, and a reminder that it doesn't take months of planning to indulge in a fun little getaway... although it does sure help to have two grandparents who do all the work for us!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Lie

First Degree Artwork on a non-approved surface

Maximilian Yantes, AKA Captain Max Salty, age 4
Pirate ship carving in guest room door 
Detail: smiling jolly roger
Not guilty

"Lucian did it!"

-No alibi
-Time of crime coincides with Suspect's rest time in the room where crime was committed
-Height of artwork exceeds reach of Suspect's brother, "Lucian"
-Piratical nature of artwork fits Suspect's modus operandi


They say lying is a normal part of a child's development, but it was still really hard to see Max lie to us in the face of indisputable evidence. He stood by his story for quite awhile, perfectly willing to let Lucian take the fall for him. Lucian even admitted to the crime after some prompting from his brother, even though he couldn't reach the top of the sails! Max did eventually confess to his crime after a long talk with Judge Dad, and we are hoping that he is fully reformed and ready to re-enter society as a productive citizen.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Max has been talking about Halloween since June. I don't know where he gets his love of Halloween, except that he gets to dress up in costume and knock on strangers' doors and collect loads of candy... ok, I guess I know exactly where he gets his love of Halloween. 

We recycled our beloved lion costume for Lucian, originally worn by Uncle Liam back-in-the-day. That one was easy. Max, on the other hand, has been dead set on being a green and yellow triceratops since before my parents closed their swimming pool. Supposedly this would be a good thing, giving me lots of time to prepare, but you know me. Need I say more? Thankfully my mom came to the rescue, finding a green dinosaur costume and sewing on a yellow frill and three horns. Have you ever seen a better triceratops costume?? I think not. 

We carved pumpkins the Sunday before Halloween with Chris and Grant again, and the boys were beside themselves with excitement that their two friends were finally back! Paul was happy to put them to work doing the bulk of the carving while he whipped up some tasty roasted pumpkin seeds. 

On Halloween, we invited the Rogers and my parents over for pizza and trick-or-treating. Anna was adorable as a little bumblebee, and the three kids were the definition of cute as they trekked around the block together. Everyone gathered more than their share of candy, and I've snitched plenty of my favorites already (don't tell them!). 

It struck me this year how incredible it is that in this day and age, people still come out of their homes in droves once a year and knock on the doors of strangers. No, we didn't stop any one place long enough to make much of a connection, but at least we have seen the faces of our neighbors. It gives me hope that people do still want to be a part of their community. We just need more opportunities to open our doors and come out of our shells!

Yes, that is actually Lucian sticking his hands in the nasty pumpkin goop.

Jolly Roger, Triceratops, and Frankenstein