My Beamish Brood

My Beamish Brood

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bluegrass Birthday

I love parties. My kids love parties. When the opportunity arises to plan a party for my kids, I'm all about it! For Lucian's third birthday party, we had only one option for a theme: The Okee Dokee Brothers! It is the only thing that Louie is passionate about, and boy is he passionate! He acts out concerts and scenes from their DVD, he knows almost every word to every song, and he doesn't leave you alone until you join in.

We based his party theme around the Okee Dokee Brothers' latest CD, "Can You Canoe?" (If you don't own it, you should). The songs are all about camping and canoeing and everything that goes with it, so it made for some fun possibilities for a party! We set the scene with a paper campfire and tree-stump seats, with a "canoe" (sled) and "paddles" (kitchen spoons) parked nearby. The kids got to play in a tent, eat off of tin plates and "roast" marshmallows after lunch. 

But the highlight of the day was the singalong! Grandpa brought his guitar and a stack of Okee Dokee songs that he had been practicing, and we all joined the birthday boy in singing and rocking out to the music. All of the kids added their own musical talents along the way; we had Lucian on guitar, Augustine on drums, and Anna on ukulele. It was priceless.

After the jam session, we broke out the banjo cake. I am pretty proud of this creation.

Here's another picture of it:

Oh, ok, I'll throw in one more for good measure. 

The time and stress it took to make (Paul will tell you- he had to remind me to breathe while I was frosting) was totally worth it to see the look on Lucian's face when he first laid eyes on it!

We enjoyed our cake, although I may have cried a little as it got sliced into pieces, then Lucian opened presents (in the canoe of course). It was such a fun day. Now we have a short break before the next celebration... time to sit back, relax and listen to some bluegrass!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lucian is Three!

My sweet little boy, you are three years old already! It's funny to think that we imagined you to be our shy, quiet child who would hide behind my legs as both of your parents did when they were kids. Maybe you've taken cues from your fearless big brother, but I think you've always had a spark that just took a little longer to flare up.

You are a born entertainer. Hand you a guitar (or tennis racket or stick) and you will turn any surface into a stage to perform your favorite songs. You leave us in stitches because your performances are spot-on, but you still have a sweet baby voice. You love to sing about "Roskeeta Bug Bug" (Rosita the Bug), "Blurass a Buppist" (Bluegrass for Breakfast), and "Boakin Dance" (The Boatman's Dance) by your idols, Justin and Joe from the Okee Dokee Brothers.

As I have been dreaming since the moment I found out I was having a second baby, you and Max have become the best of friends! Most days you disappear into your room to play Moon Landing, turn the dining room into a railroad train, or take up your swords to hunt down the "scary stuff" that lurks in the corners of the house. You and your brother have your differences, but it amazes me how much you love each other.

And speaking of love, you have taken on your role of big brother with joy and determination! You love to feed your little sister, you throw away diapers for me, you even make faces at her just to see her smile.

I have loved seeing your personality blossom over the last year. You have made your mark on our family, and I know you'll make your mark on the world. I am so proud to be your mommy!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Knights and Castles

Having a child born on Christmas always presents a challenge: how and when and how often do we celebrate the day? It's something we juggle every year, and generally Max ends up getting at least two separate birthday celebrations. This year, we celebrated with his friends on the anniversary of his baptism, January 19. And wonder of wonders, there was not a pirate to be found! Max chose a knights and castles theme for his party, and I can't tell you how excited I was to buy crepe paper that wasn't black.

His friends showed up and were given a glow sword and a cardboard shield, which they decorated until the pizza arrived. Everyone filled up on pizza to prepare for the quest ahead of them: they had to complete three tasks in order to earn the title of Knight.

First, they crossed the swamp, making sure to touch only the "rocks".

Then they threw a ball to knock over a troll and cross his bridge.

Finally, they had to sneak up on a sleeping dragon (Uncle Liam) and steal one of his scales without stepping on the tissue paper that surrounded him or making any other noise.

When the tasks were successfully completed, the knight-hopefuls gathered in the throne room to be knighted by King Paul the Second and awarded with a certificate of knighthood by Queen Taryn. The Knighting ceremony was followed by a celebration with cake and ice cream in honor of Prince Maximilian!

I know I say this each year, but five sure seems like a big milestone. It was five whole years ago that we all gathered at Blessed Sacrament Church to welcome a tiny new baby into God's family, and look at how he has grown since then! He's ready to take on the world, slaying any dragons that come his way. God bless you, my Maximilian!

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Oh what to say? Four of my very favorite people just flew across the ocean away from us again. The boys and Catherine were here for a month, and I was getting pretty darn used to seeing them whenever I wanted. The last week of their visit, after Tony had joined them and we returned from South Dakota, we spent pretty much every day at Grandma and Grandpa's so the cousins could get to know each other. This was the first time they had seen each other in a year and a half, and it was certainly the first time they have actually played together. 

Max and Alexander had some important chats over their coloring book, and it was such a joy to hear them really talking to each other!  Zander is verbal beyond his years, so he kept right up with Max in conversational ability.

Alexander and Lucian are only six months apart in age, and they share a love of all things music, especially the Okee Dokee Brothers, guitars and banjos. We were serenaded time and again by the dynamic duo; my dad is hopeful that he has the makings of a band to rival the Radecki Family Band from my childhood. (Yes, back in the day, yours truly played some high-profile gigs at church auctions, YMCA events, and fundraisers. If you want my autograph, just ask). I think the boys will be ready to go on the road as soon as they can strum a real chord!

The four boys were in heaven playing games with Grandma, and I don't think she minded too much. My parents take this grandparent thing to a whole new level... they'll do anything for their grandkids! I think by the end of the visit they may have been ready for a little break (having five kids five-and-under in the house nearly full-time might do that) but you wouldn't know it by looking at them. They were going strong til the last.

We took the kids to the train museum in St. Paul with Great Grandpa, and everyone was enthralled with the exhibits. After watching the trains for awhile, we went to the Como Park Pavilion for a snack and a little exploring. Funny how it takes visitors from Austria to get us out into our own neighborhood! Lucian and Isaac had some nice moments together throughout the trip; they are both a little more laid-back than their older brothers, so even though there is quite an age difference, I think they really enjoyed each other.

Alexander fell head-over-heels for Audrey and just couldn't get enough of her! Every time he saw her, he wanted to shower her with affection. That girl... for now, she's the center of all sorts of positive attention. But just wait, little one. With four boys above you, there are all sorts of shenanigans to come!

Tony and Catherine, thank you for sharing so much of your time with us. I know that traveling is not easy, and being away from home for so long wreaks havoc on little bodies. A seven hour time change is hard enough on the most seasoned travelers, I can only imagine what it does to kids! But you did a beautiful job and you are wonderful parents. We miss you terribly, and we hope that someday we will meet you at the airport for a homecoming rather than just a visit. Until then, Max, Lucian and Audrey will try to wait patiently for the next chance to play with their cousins!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Comfort and Joy

There is much more to tell about our Christmas Extravaganza in South Dakota, but I'll try to keep it contained to the highlights. Much of the week was spent gathered at the kitchen table, either playing cards or eating delicious food. With fourteen people in the house, it's not surprising that we sometimes had three card games going simultaneously at times! The favorites were 500, Euchre, Cribbage and Yahtzee. By the end of the week, I felt like I could actually call myself a proficient card player! (For those of you who know me, yes, this means I finally got up the guts to bid).

When we did venture out of the house, we visited the City Center, a new area in downtown Rapid that boasts an ice rink in winter and water fountains in summer. The boys got their first taste of skating for the year, with the help of Uncles Liam and Patrick (and Daddy, of course). I stayed safely on the cement snapping pictures. Don't tell anyone, but I never really learned how to ice skate, and I feel it's just too late for me now. Oh well, somebody's gotta hold the camera!

Since the whole family was present, we made it a point to snap a family picture. We all went up to Dinosaur Park and had a grand old time! Who knew family pictures don't have to be horribly painful? The only downside was the freezing wind; I don't know if you can hear the teeth chattering when you look at the picture, but man-oh-man we did not want to linger for long. I escaped with Monica, Glenn, Megan and Audrey to Bully Blends after the shoot while the braver ones let the boys play on the dinosaurs for awhile. It went something like this: "Oh, I really wish I could stay and play, but Audrey will get so cold if we don't get her inside now."

Other memorable moments include Kelley's birthday, meeting Kelley's beau Tim, an early birthday bash for me, a movie with Kel and Megan (Les Miserables... I won't give you my full analysis here, but overall I loved it!), visiting our Goddaughter Gemma, meeting my friend Bridget's newest little one Felicity, and getting the Trask and Yantes boys together for a quick visit. All of this was underscored by a constant stream of mulled wine, of course. 

It was a full, fun week, and as always it was hard to leave. But we created some wonderful memories!

The boys loved being trapped in Uncle Patrick's Kid Jail
All three kids playing together!
Paul Yantes Jr. Family photo
Zooming with his uncles
Lucian tried for a little while, but wasn't too thrilled
Audrey stayed warm snuggling with Auntie Megan
By the end of the day, Max was scooting by himself!
Max and Lucian with their friends Joey (3 1/2) and Patrick (5 1/2)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Celebration of New Life

Our trip to Rapid City included a beautiful baby shower for Monica, who is due in just a couple of weeks!  We are so thrilled and excited to be welcoming another member into the family, and our kids are well ready to meet their first Yantes cousin. All of the wonderful women of the Rapid City Catholic community came together to celebrate with Monica, to shower her with gifts and to pray for her upcoming delivery and the exciting journey she's about to begin. 

Monica, I am so blessed to have you in my life. Calling you my sister-in-law has never felt quite right- there seem to be some negative connotations involved with the term "in-law". So instead, I prefer to think of you, Kelley, and Megan as my sisters. And dear sister, I am thrilled beyond words that I will soon be sharing with you something that is so central to my life and identity: motherhood. It is a role you have always seen yourself in, and I am so thankful that God has blessed you and Glenn with this great gift. I hope to share the joyful moments with you as well as the difficult ones, the excitement and the tedium. I want you to call me when you are bursting with pride and when you are about to pull your hair out. Life is about to change forever, and change is not always be easy, but oh Monica, you radiate a grace and poise that I wish I had myself! You will be amazing.

You are a beautiful woman in every way. I know that you will be a beautiful mother; you were specially chosen by God for the tiny child you are soon to meet. Blessings on you and your growing family!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Merry Little Christmas

My mother-in-law Maureen is always very easy going about the holidays. She loves having her family around her, but she is quick to tell us to do what works best for our family.  If that means we don't strictly alternate years between families, that's fine with her. She just has one simple request: every so often, she would like her entire family to be present for a celebration. That was this year. All six Yantes kids (plus spouses and children) returned to Rapid City for Christmas.


With up to fourteen people in the house at any given moment, it was anything but a "little" Christmas. Their next door neighbor was kind enough to lend their house while they were out of town for the week, so everyone even had a bed to sleep in. But honestly, a bed was the only thing we used that house for; we were all desperate to spend as much time together as possible.

Our traveling day was the 23rd, so we were in town all of Christmas Eve day. We attended a celebration with Paul's grandparents, then we spruced up and walked to "midnight" Mass at 10:00. The snowflakes were so big and slow-falling that I felt like I was in a snow globe. It reminded me of Christmas five years ago, when we attended this same Mass at the Cathedral, had a beautiful snowfall and welcomed a beautiful baby boy into the world! I can't believe that little boy is already five years old.

We sang the opening song, said the opening prayer, sat down, and all three kids promptly fell asleep for the remainder of the Mass. It was such a wonderful service, I almost felt bad that the kids were missing it... almost, but not enough to wake them up. It was nice to have my attention undivided for once.

We went home after church to stuff stockings, prepare for the morning, and hit the hay. Christmas morning came quickly for two excited little boys. We exchanged gifts and hugs, had a fabulous brunch, and basked in each others' company for the rest of the day. Christmas dinner was prime rib-- a Yantes family tradition that I didn't miss out on even when in the hospital with  Max five years ago! Although I must say, if given the choice, I preferred to eat it off of a plate at the table with the whole family rather than out of tupperware in a hospital bed. After dinner, we sang happy birthday to Max and he got to blow out some candles and open a few more presents (wrapped in birthday wrapping paper, mind you!).

We stayed in Rapid City for a whole week and just got home yesterday, but we had so many great adventures that I will close here for now at the close of the great feast of Christmas.

Hail, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning!
Jesus, to Thee be all glory given.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing,
O come let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord!

Lucian and his new banjo

Max does brain surgery on his human body kit

Audrey get 'stachified by her aunties and uncles

Happy birthday to Max!