My Beamish Brood

My Beamish Brood

Friday, December 27, 2013

I'm Back!

I bet you all thought I gave up on this blog, huh?

It's been a rough month (more on that later), but as a re-entry into the world of blogging, here are a few winter pics of the kids to tide you over.

Carving pumpkins:

 Playing in the snow:

Decorating for Christmas:

Soon to come:

-The Yantes family Thanksgiving visit
-Christmas festivities
-A big announcement!

Stay tuned...

Monday, November 25, 2013

Twelve Books of Christmas

The boys love this statue outside our local library
Like the good Catholics we are, we like to drag out our celebrations as long as we can. Last year we decided that we wanted a concrete way to celebrate each of the twelve days of Christmas with our kids, and what better way to do that than with more presents?? Why not let the unwrapping go on another two weeks? So each morning for the next twelve days, the boys got to take turns opening a numbered gift, and each morning that gift was... drumroll please... a book! Of course it was a book. (Have you noticed I'm a little obsessed with books?) But what made my heart sing was that every day, the boys were excited to open what they knew would be another book. 

This gift was my favorite part of Christmas shopping; I scoured book lists and blogs, I looked at the library and bookstores, I spent hours finding the perfect twelve books. And when they all arrived and I saw them stacked together... I was underwhelmed. Sure every one of them came highly recommended, and we have returned to them many times over the past year, but they weren't the perfect books. Don't get me wrong, the boys loved them, but I was left feeling like there were better books out there that I had yet to discover. Or maybe I tried so hard to pick great books that I forgot to pick books that were great for my children at that particular time.

Maybe it's an unrealistic expectation, but this year instead of trying to find the twelve most perfect picture books on the face of the earth, I want to find the twelve picture books that are perfect for Max, Lucian and Audrey. So that's where you come in. In all of my searching, the thing that was missing was advice from people I know and love who know and love children's literature (I'm looking right at you, Monica and Annie!) This is my plea: send me a list of your very favorite children's picture books, or your go-to book lists, and I will be forever grateful. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

If You Can't Beat 'Em...


...then join 'em!

Max has discovered the camera on my phone. Almost every time I pick it up, I am greeted by a few more of these gems. What a ham...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Branching Out

Our favorite hiking woods are closed, indefinitely! It saddens my heart to think that we may not be able to hike there again... it has been our family's special place since we moved to Minnesota. I wrote about the woods hereherehere, and here, but it looks as if those memories might have to be sufficient. The boys still point every time we pass by and ask, "Is it still closed?" Yes... it's still closed. And it may not open again.

We didn't do much hiking this summer... Paul was very busy at work and we did a lot of traveling. Plus, fall has always been our favorite time for getting out into the woods. So I didn't miss the Hiking Woods too much until we decided to go for a hike last week. "You mean, we have to try something new?" I thought. Adventurers that we are, we set out to see about a place called Crosby Farm in St. Paul. Not as close as our hiking woods, but still very convenient.

And friends... I was blown away. I felt like we were in an enchanted forest! After they moved beyond the fact that there were no horses, cows and pigs at Crosby Farm ("Then why is it called a farm??"), the boys and their imaginations took flight. They became jungle explorers, knights on horses, beachcombers. They were eaten by a massive tiger, they built a home in a hollow tree, they discovered the "five wonders of Crosby Park" (named by Max). When it started getting cold, we headed back toward the parking lot for some hot chocolate.

I can't believe I'm saying it, but should "our" hiking woods never reopen, perhaps I would be satisfied to adopt Crosby Farm as our new special place.

"Someone carved a face on this log!"

Who knew all we needed to get a great smile was to throw a handful of leaves on Dad?
Look at that handsome man
The tree house

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Up the Hill

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine compared her laundry battle to that of Sisyphus and his boulder. No matter how hard she worked, she still felt as if she had accomplished nothing at the end of the day. At the time, I giggled and moved on; it was a clever analogy but it didn't hit home in my experience. I had one child, and while I've never loved laundry, the pile that three people can make is generally pretty manageable.

I haven't thought about Sisyphus in years. But recently Max discovered the name in some book or song and was curious about it. We researched the Greek myth and read the story together. This was about a week ago, and since then Max has illustrated the entire story, acted it out, and brought it up in conversation nearly every day.

Two days ago, I was engaging in my bad habit of folding clothes and leaving them in piles on the stairs to bring up later. This is a terrible idea; the folded clothes have a tendency to sit untouched for days, and as new clothes get clean the piles begin to look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

And then the children happen. One time it's a careless kindergartner who bumps a rickety pile and launches it into the air. The next it's a toddler who finds joy in carefully unfolding and throwing every article of clothing into a pile on the landing. Or maybe it's just a mom hurriedly searching for a clean pair of underwear at the bottom of a stack who sends the whole thing tumbling down.

Anyways, the clothes were folded and I walked away. The toddler came and undid my work, again. I sat down on the landing, amid a huge pile of newly-unfolded clean clothes and looked up the stairs. Suddenly, I understood what it means to feel like Sisyphus.

At least he's got a good attitude about it

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Apples of My Eye


The boys have been talking about apple picking for a full year without pause. Ever since we went last year, it has come up at least once a week... and finally the day arrived! We went apple picking at Minnesota Harvest in Jordan, MN, and I would highly recommend this orchard to everyone. It had everything we wanted (tractor-pulled wagon, you-pick apples, super affordable and gorgeous pumpkins) and loads of things we didn't know we needed (a sunflower maze, kiddie train, petting zoo, live music with Cactus Willie) that were offered free of charge. It was large and well-run, but it still had the feel of a family-owned orchard. 

Max spent most of the day up in the trees helping Paul find the very best apples, Lucian found sticks and brandished them like swords as we hiked through the apple tree jungle, and Audrey got her paws on an apple and wouldn't put it down. The kids were all thrilled to have my mom join us for the day, and we ended up being there for almost four hours. They had wagons sitting around the grounds for anyone to use as needed, so we claimed two of them for the later part of the day as little legs started getting tired. (Remind me to add a wagon to my Christmas list... SO awesome!) The kids got pulled from the pumpkins to the petting zoo to the old tractors to the playground, munching apples all the while.

I mentioned to my mom that sometimes the best part of outings with children is the memories, because the actual event can be super stressful. Not so with this orchard; it was a child's dream come true. No hushing, no corralling, they were free to roam and explore, while we were free to relax and enjoy. And we did!